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What is a Data Scientist’s Career Path

by Sonal Shukla

Data Scientists are analytical experts who collect and analyze a large set of structured and unstructured data. They usually try to find trends out of the messy data from sources like social media feeds, emails, smart devices, etc., that do not fit neatly on the database.

Highly essential for the growth of an organization, the role of a Data Scientist involves analyzing, processing, and modeling unstructured data to provide market insights. Organizations and companies use these insights to create actionable plans for their profit.

Businesses today are highly relying upon data scientists to create business value from the collected data. Since 2019, the hiring of data scientists has increased by 46%. It has been predicted that by 2026, India will have 11 million new job openings in data science [Source: India Today].

Owing to this surge, students have an increasing craze for pursuing online courses related to this field. Data Science Courses in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore have the highest popularity. Being a Data Scientist is a gratifying career that offers an average salary of around ₹8.24 lakh per annum [Source: payscale.com].

Go through the article to understand the various stages and job roles that you would explore as you gain more experience in the field of data science.

Career Path of a Data Scientist

A Data Scientist is a part Mathematician, a part Computer Scientist, and a part Business Trend-Spotter. Therefore this job realm includes multiple profiles like Analysts, Data Visualizers, and Business Intelligence experts. Though the job roles sound entirely different, all these candidates are considered data scientists as the overall responsibilities are collectively the same.

The chart below explains the career path followed by these data scientists in an elaborative manner.

Entry Level

The candidates get to work in basic job profiles like a Junior Data Scientist at the entry level.

  • The major job responsibilities here include testing new ideas, existing refractory models, and structuring data.
  • Immediate college graduates are eligible for entering the Data Science sector at this level. Preferred qualifications include a degree in Data Science, Computer Science, Information Technology, Mathematics, and Statistics.
  • Candidates having a degree other than Data Science are expected to have some relevant certification in data science.
  • The individuals applying for this job should be proficient in programming languages like Java, Python, R, and SQL.
  • They should also know about Machine Learning, Research, Data Analysis, and allied concepts.
  • They should also have soft skills like communicating and working in a team, analytical skills, etc.

The average salary is expected to range from ₹5.25 lakh to 7.8 lakh per annum at this Level in India.

Mid Level

After working as a junior data scientist for about three years, the individuals can get promoted to the roles of Senior Data Scientist, Machine Learning (ML) Engineer, or Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer.

  • Candidates applying for these roles should have a master’s degree and might also require a Ph.D. in some cases. A Ph.D. degree in Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI Engineering is preferred.
  • They should build a well-architectured product by designing, creating, evaluating, or deploying models to production.
  • The job profile here includes supervision of junior scientists and dealing with higher authority and management.
  • Experienced candidates are expected to avoid greenhorn mistakes, avoid logical flaws in the models, write reusable codes, build resilient data pipelines in the cloud environment, and prepare immaculate data.

Data scientists should upgrade their skills by gaining knowledge in machine learning and artificial intelligence. For this, they can take up a relevant certification course. The average salary is expected to range from ₹7.8 lakh to 12 lakh per annum at this stage.

Advanced Level

After having a work experience of more than five years, the individuals can decide to continue their work as a data scientist or take up managerial roles.

  • A data scientist can get promoted to Principal Data Scientist or can take up managerial roles and work as a Data Science Manager. 
  • At this stage of your career, it would be more important to hone your managerial and soft skills than the pre-existing technical skills.
  • Candidates are expected to understand business, data analytical technologies, maintain budgets, and prevent fraud.
  • They will use the data insights to shape the data products and build corporate strategies.

The average salary at the advanced level is expected to range somewhere between ₹12-20 lakh per annum.

Key Advanced Data Science Jobs

The following classification talks about two major job categories of Data Science roles at the advanced level.

Principal Data Scientist

  • Since they are highly experienced data science members who are well-versed with data science models, they will mostly be working on high-impact business projects. 
  • They are expected to understand challenges in various business domains, discover business opportunities, and show excellent leadership in data science methodologies.
  • They are expected to have a Ph.D. in the field of data science.

Data Science Managers

  • The work of a data science manager would include team leadership and project management. They will lead the team, set priorities for the team, and communicate with the management.
  • They will usually require a master’s degree in Business Administration.
  • They should have technical knowledge, primarily focused on database systems.
  • They should also possess some relevant certifications.

A career as a data scientist is fun, interesting, and challenging at the same time. Those who have good knowledge and skills in the area of data science can draw lucrative benefits out of it. Another added advantage is that this field is still evolving, and there are only a few certified data scientists in India.

The demands are huge and only expected to rise in the present circumstances. So grab this opportunity and start learning new data skills. Build your profile by taking online certification courses, even if you hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A profitable career in Data Science can take you to great heights.


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