The demand for data scientists is at an all-time high. Every time you interact with a mobile app or visit a website, data is generated. Data scientists are responsible for analyzing this data and deciphering what it says about an organization’s products and services.
However, before you decide to pursue a career as a data scientist, you should familiarize yourself with the field to ensure it’s the right career path for you. So, let’s explore this growing occupation in greater detail below.
Data Science: The Basics
Beginning a career in data science can be difficult. So if you’re looking to begin a career as a data scientist, you’ve come to the right place. Before diving into a data science program, it’s important to understand what exactly it is that data scientists do.
A data scientist may analyze the data from a website to help an organization better understand its clients and improve its services. Often, data scientists will present their findings to other departments, so it could be useful to gain experience and comfortability speaking in front of larger groups.
Data scientists often work with engineering and design teams to improve the user’s experience with a product or service. Data scientists are frequently employed by companies and the government. Some data scientists even work as independent consultants.
If you’re preparing to enter a bachelor’s degree program in data science, it’s important to become familiar with the skills all data scientists are expected to have. These skills can be broken into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Let’s begin with the hard skills.
Hard skills include data wrangling/munging, preparing data, basic statistics, data visualization and writing code. These are all skills you will be expected to master during a bachelor’s degree program. Though data scientists do not code as often as software developers, they must still be able to do so. During your bachelor’s degree program, you can therefore expect to learn at least one common coding language such as Python, R, SQL or Java. Now, let’s move on to some of the soft skills required of a data scientist.
You’ll need more than just the technical skills to excel as a data scientist, especially if you’re aiming to work at a big company. With this in mind, you should acquire a strong set of interpersonal skills, or soft skills, such as communication, a business mindset and critical thinking. You may not necessarily be tested on these skills during your bachelor’s degree program. If you choose a good program, however, the courses you take should help equip you with these necessary skills.
Types of Data Scientists
There are three main types of data scientists: data scientists, data engineers and data analysts.
Data scientists find solutions to problems and create programs to analyze data. They utilize SQL, R, Python, Hadoop, MongoDB, Tableau and Scala.
Data engineers create the methods used to analyze data. Their responsibilities involve maintaining databases and creating queries and pipelines to store data.
Data analysts are essentially entry-level data scientists who are just beginning their career in data science. A data analyst’s duties involve analyzing data and making recommendations. They aren’t usually responsible for creating their own technical programs for solving problems.
Choosing a Data Science Bachelor’s Degree Program
Data science programs include certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and doctoral degrees. There are also plenty of options for online programs to meet your unique financial situation, schedule and education level.
A quality data science bachelor’s degree program will equip you with all the skills necessary to thrive as a data scientist, ranging from soft skills like critical thinking and problem solving to hard skills like statistical analysis and data visualization. Before you choose your online data science bachelor’s degree program, make sure it is from an accredited college or university. This ensures that your education meets national standards.
Searching for the right online bachelor’s program to fit your needs and situation can be overwhelming. To jumpstart your search, here is a list of five accredited online data science bachelor’s degree programs.
Top 5 Online Data Science Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Western Governors University
The online bachelor’s of science in data management/data analytics program at Western Governors University equips students with necessary data science skills like database management, data wrangling, data science, data analytics and visualization. Some of the courses that WGU offers through its program include web development foundations, data wrangling with MongoDB and spreadsheets. Students enrolled in this program are also required to complete an IT capstone project.
This program is well-suited for professionals looking to earn their data science degree to advance their career. For instance, students can take assessment tests to forego familiar material and advance through the program at a quicker pace. Another benefit of WGU’s online program is that students receive a Udacity Nanodegree, which involves resume support, employment guidance and networking opportunities that last after graduation.
WGU’s online program is largely self-paced. As soon as a learner has demonstrated mastery of a subject, they can move on to the next course without waiting for the next term to begin (each term lasts six months). The length of the program depends on a learner’s background experience and the number of transfer credits they have, but students typically take anywhere from six to 36 months to graduate.
This global university offers an online bachelor’s of science in data analytics that trains students in foundational methodologies, concepts and technologies necessary for a career in data science. Webster University’s data science program involves 128 credits, including 36 major-related core credits.
Courses cover topics like decision support systems, data science, data warehousing and electronic commerce. Online classes at Webster are small (around 24 students) and take place asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Moreover, Webster University’s data science program offers courses in eight-, nine- and 16-week terms, allowing students to choose the format that best fits their lifestyle. Webster suggests that adult professionals enrolled in the program take one course per term.
New York University
New York University offers an online bachelor’s of science degree in applied data analytics and visualization. This program prepares graduates for roles as database administrators or database analysts at government agencies, corporations, service industries, political organizations, consulting firms and nonprofit organizations.
Students must complete 128 online credits; this includes core curriculum courses, foundation classes, data science and visualization courses, and electives. Some of NYU’s course offerings include visual analytics, data analytics, cultural and legal implications of digital technology, and business intelligence, among others. Students are also required to complete a four-credit senior project, either as a seminar or an internship capstone.
All online courses are asynchronous, allowing professionals to work at their own pace. Professors hold office hours through live web conferencing, so students can be confident that they will receive individualized attention even while learning remotely.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s online bachelor’s of science in business data analytics is the perfect fit for students looking to manage data analytics for large businesses. Students earn their data science degree through ASU’s nationally recognized business school. US News and World Report ranked ASU as #1 in the United States for innovation.
ASU data science students take courses that train them in data warehousing, data science, large data analytics solutions, dimensional modelling and visualization methods. Courses take place over intensive, 7.5-week terms. Students are required to complete 120 credits that include 51 credits of upper-level classes.
ASU’s online course offerings include enterprise analytics, business data mining, and business data warehouses and dimensional modelling. Online bachelor’s of data science students are also expected to complete a final capstone course that integrates ethical business practices into a global setting.
The application requirements for ASU’s data science program are rigorous. For example, freshman applicants must be in the top eight percent of their class or hold a minimum GPA of 3.6 to be considered.
Baker College’s online bachelor’s of computer science in database technology is the perfect choice for students or professionals seeking to gain proficiency working with Oracle database software. In addition, graduates of this program gain an understanding of internet communications, data science, data analytics, software development, computer science and database programming.
Students enrolled in Baker’s bachelor’s of computer science program are expected to complete 120 credit hours. This requirement includes 72 hours of major courses, 30 hours of general education classes and 18 hours of a specific concentration of their choice. Major course topics include unit testing and interfaces, advanced database topics, trends in computer science and mobile device programming. As a final project, students complete a 10-week, 150-hour work experience before graduation from the program.
Baker College offers an adult transfer scholarship to some professionals, which covers half of their tuition if they maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for up to three years. Qualifying transfer students must have an associate degree and a 3.5 (minimum) cumulative GPA.
Data Scientist Job Prospects: What to Expect After Graduation
The job outlook for data scientists is rather good, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting job opportunities for data scientists to grow by 16 percent by 2028.
With this type of growth predicted, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in data science is a good investment. Although salaries for data scientists differ from company to company, entry-level data scientists usually earn about $69,000 per year. You can expect a higher salary once you have gained more experience, with the average salary for a data scientist currently at $108,971.
It’s important to note that earning a bachelor’s degree is not the only path to pursuing a career in data science. Many people have achieved a successful data science career by attending a short-term, intensive data science bootcamp.
Data science bootcamps are much more affordable than attending a traditional four-year university. Many professionals who are already in the workforce and are seeking to advance their career find them to be the most effective. There is no “right” way to learn data science and each path has its own merits. Be sure to do your research to find out which path is right for you!