Data science is a relatively new field, though the demand for degree programs suggests it’s likely here to stay. In the past decade alone, New York University established a Center for Data Science, MIT launched the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, the University of California–Berkeley inaugurated a Division of Data Science and Information, and Yale University transformed its Department of Statistics into a Department of Statistics and Data Science.
Glassdoor’s No. 3 best job in the U.S. has seen job growth surge 480%BY Meghan MalasMarch 08, 2022, 6:12 PM
So, it does not come as a surprise that there’s also robust demand for graduates of these data science programs. Data scientist ranks No. 3 among the 50 best occupations in the U.S., according to Glassdoor’s list of the best jobs for 2022, and was beat out only by the roles of enterprise architect and full stack engineer. This year, the job had a satisfaction score of 4.1 out of 5, a median base salary of $120,000, and over 10,000 job openings, according to figures from Glassdoor.
Data scientist isn’t new to this front-runner status; it’s been in one of the top three spots for the past seven years. This trend indicates that demand for data scientists and salaries for the position will continue to increase. Job openings have grown by 480% for the occupation since 2016, when there were 1,700 data scientist job openings.
How demand for data scientist roles has grown
“Data-driven decision making has led to huge profit for most of these data science and big tech companies like Amazon and Google,” says Arya Mazumdar, an associate professor and Chair of Communications at UC San Diego’s Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. “The moment they started to implement data-driven machine learning or decision making based on prior data, they saw an increase in revenue from all sides.”
For example, companies with recommendation systems like Netflix have seen more clicks and views after adding machine learning and statistical analysis methods to their strategy. Additionally, companies like Amazon have seen more revenue after investing more into data-driven methods for advertising, Mazumdar added.
Broadening demand for data scientists
But it’s not just the FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) that are upping the demand for data scientists, start-ups are also responsible for driving the need for data science. Data-driven ideas are easier to implement, so more people are starting companies that rely on looking at past data to make predictions for users, like restaurant applications, for example.
Even companies that aren’t primarily focused on data science, particularly hardware companies like Intel and IBM, are investing a lot in the field.
“Some of these hardware companies have a lot of user data coming in, like how people use their services or what people are doing with their computers,” Mazumdar says. “They see that with this type of data, they can actually use those insights to improve the performance of their processors.”
FAANG companies have a head-start on the data market, so a lot of companies are trying to catch up so they will reap the same benefits, Mazumdar notes. These companies are partnering with universities so they can have a steady supply of interns and hires among freshly graduating students, he says.
How data science programs are responding to demand
UC San Diego, which launched its Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute in 2018, has continued to add more advanced degree programs for data science to address the need for highly-skilled data scientists across industries.
“Even in more traditional disciplines, people are trying to use data for decision making,” Mazumday says. Fields like mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, physics, and chemistry now rely on data-driven methods, so they need expertise in data science too, he added.
The vast applications of data science are reflected in the graduate programs being developed for the field. University of Connecticut’s new master’s degree program in data science, which is set to launch in Fall 2022, features interdisciplinary collaboration between five of its schools and colleges.
“I don’t think that the full potential of artificial intelligence has been realized, a lot of these companies and universities are just getting started, and there is a big push to bring big technological paradigms in the next few years,” Mazumday says. “So, I think the demand is going to be there.”