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Summary

data-scientists
Data scientists use machine learning to classify data.
Quick Facts: Data Scientists
2021 Median Pay $100,910 per year
$48.52 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 113,300
Job Outlook, 2021-31 36% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 40,500

What Data Scientists Do

Data scientists use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.

Work Environment

Data scientists spend much of their time in an office setting. Most work full time.

How to Become a Data Scientist

Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or a related field to enter the occupation. Some employers require or prefer that applicants have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for data scientists was $100,910 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of data scientists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 13,500 openings for data scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for data scientists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of data scientists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about data scientists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Data Scientists Do About this section

data-scientists
To present their findings, these scientists often make use of data visualization.

Data scientists use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.

Duties

Data scientists typically do the following:

  • Determine which data are available and useful for the project
  • Collect, categorize, and analyze data
  • Create, validate, test, and update algorithms and models
  • Use data visualization software to present findings
  • Make business recommendations to stakeholders based on data analysis

Data scientists often begin a project by gathering or identifying relevant data sources, such as surveys. They may use a variety of methods to obtain data, including through access to other organizations’ databases or by using web-scraping tools (software that extracts specific information from websites). They may start with large, unstructured datasets, commonly referred to as raw data. To properly analyze the data, these scientists must “clean” the raw data, a process by which they structure the data to make them readable by software programs.

Data scientists develop algorithms (sets of instructions that tell computers what to do) and models to support programs for machine learning. They use machine learning to classify or categorize data or to make predictions related to the models. Scientists also must test the algorithms and models for accuracy, including for updates with newly collected data.

Data scientists often use data visualization software to present their findings as charts, maps, and other graphics. Visualization techniques allow data scientists to clearly communicate their analyses to technical and nontechnical audiences, including colleagues, managers, and clients. Ensuring that audiences understand the information helps data scientists make recommendations for business decisions or process changes based on the results of their analysis.

Some data scientists choose to focus on a particular area of work. For example, data scientists who have a strong coding or engineering background may develop or recommend systems, build machine learning algorithms, and devise ways to enhance web-browsing functions. Others conduct research for reports or academic journals. Still others focus on improving business strategy for activities such as marketing, sales, and user engagement.

Work Environment About this section

data-scientists
Data scientists typically work in an office setting.

Data scientists held about 113,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of data scientists were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 15%
Management of companies and enterprises 10
Insurance carriers and related activities 9
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 7
Scientific research and development services 5

Data scientists spend much of their time in an office setting.

Work Schedules

Most data scientists work full time.

How to Become a Data Scientist About this section

data-scientists
Data scientists need strong computer skills.

Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or a related field to enter the occupation. However, some employers require or prefer that candidates have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Education

Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree. Common fields of degree include mathematics, statistics, computer science, business, and engineering.

Because data science involves the use of algorithms and statistical techniques, students need extensive study in mathematics and statistics. High school students interested in becoming data scientists should take classes in subjects such as linear algebra, calculus, and probability and statistics.

At the college level, courses in computer science are important in addition to math and statistics. Students must learn data-oriented programming languages as well as statistical, database, and other software for presenting analyses.

Other Experience

Some employers require industry-related experience or education. For example, data scientists seeking work in an asset management company may need to have experience in the finance industry or to have completed coursework that demonstrates an understanding of investments, banking, or related subjects.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Data scientists must be adept at researching and at examining and interpreting findings.

Computer skills. Data scientists must be able to write code, analyze data, develop or improve algorithms, and use data visualization tools.

Communication skills. Data scientists must be able to convey the results of their analysis to technical and nontechnical audiences to make business recommendations.

Logical-thinking skills. Data scientists must understand and be able to design and develop statistical models and to analyze data.

Math skills. Data scientists use statistical methods to collect and organize data.

Problem-solving skills. Data scientists must devise solutions to the problems they encounter in data collection and cleaning and in developing statistical models and algorithms.

Pay About this section

Data Scientists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Data scientists

$100,910

Mathematical science occupations

$98,680

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for data scientists was $100,910 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $167,040.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for data scientists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Scientific research and development services $102,750
Computer systems design and related services 102,600
Management of companies and enterprises 101,000
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 101,000
Insurance carriers and related activities 100,360

Most data scientists work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Data Scientists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Data scientists

36%

Mathematical science occupations

29%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of data scientists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 13,500 openings for data scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Employment growth for data scientists is expected to stem from an increased demand for data-driven decisions. The volume of data available and the potential uses for that data will increase over the projections decade. As a result, organizations will likely need more data scientists to mine and analyze the large amounts of information and data collected. Data scientists’ analysis will help organizations to make informed decisions and improve their business processes, to design and develop new products, and to better market their products. 

Employment projections data for data scientists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Data scientists

15-2051 113,300 153,900 36 40,500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of data scientists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Actuaries Actuaries

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the economic costs of risk and uncertainty.

Bachelor's degree $105,900
Computer and information research scientists Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing computing technology.

Master's degree $131,490
Economists Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master's degree $105,630
Financial analysts Financial Analysts

Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to attain profit.

Bachelor's degree $95,570
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study consumer preferences, business conditions, and other factors to assess potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $63,920
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $96,280
Operations research analysts Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor's degree $82,360
Software developers Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

Software developers design computer applications or programs. Software quality assurance analysts and testers identify problems with applications or programs and report defects.  

Bachelor's degree $109,020
Survey researchers Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Master's degree $59,740
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Data Scientists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/data-scientists.htm (visited October 19, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, September 8, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.