Here are four key questions to consider before pursuing an online degree in data science.

Should you earn an MS in Data Science?

Businesses need data scientists to help interpret and provide insights on the growing volume of data. From finance to healthcare, there is a demand for data scientists in nearly every industry. In fact, a Glassdoor survey of the “50 Best Jobs in America for 2019” recently ranked data scientist No. 1.1 Before you decide to pursue a data science master’s program, you need to get answers to four key questions.

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Why should you consider earning a master’s degree in data science?

Numbers can be a powerful tool in decision-making, so analyze the numbers as you explore earning a master’s degree in data science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for computer and information research scientists are expected to grow by 19% through 2026—much faster than average.2 Not only is the field growing, but BLS reports that the annual median pay for individuals in this profession was $118,370 as of May 2018. Education also figures in. A 2017 report from IBM and Business-Higher Education Forum in partnership with Burning Glass Technologies, shows that 39% of data scientist roles require a master’s degree or higher.3 An MS in Data Science could lead to higher earnings and greater job security in a rapidly growing market.

Is pursuing your master’s degree something the field requires?

Successful data scientists need a well-rounded set of skills that encompasses both academics and hands-on learning. In many job descriptions for data scientists, an MS in Data Science isn’t directly specified. However, earning a master’s in data science could allow potential candidates to distinguish themselves with sought-after data analytics skills. Certain data science master’s programs give students the opportunity to engage in hands-on coursework that they could apply directly in their career. A strong academic background could also help data scientists develop the necessary foundation they need to succeed.

Will the demand for data scientists continue?

Most businesses are actively collecting data, and the amount of data continues to grow exponentially. What does the future look like for data scientists? Will the field plateau or continue to rise? By 2020, the number of job openings for data professionals is likely to increase to 2.7 million.3 While no job market is guaranteed, the numbers swing positively for the future of data science.

How will this degree impact the future of your career?

Before investing in graduate school, you need to determine your expected outcome. Do you hope to forge a new path in the field of data science or implement information systems for emerging startups? Your choice to take on a new challenge needs to outweigh potential obstacles you may face, such as combining your studies with full-time work or juggling family responsibilities. If you decide an advanced degree is the career differentiator you are looking for, earning your master’s in data science online may be a good option for you. Online learning offers the ease of accessibility and flexible scheduling needed by working professionals.

When you look at the facts and figures, there’s no question that data science plays a pivotal role in today’s market. A degree in data science could help you pursue a new career, climb the ladder in your current role, or make a lasting difference in a new organization.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of IT degree programs online, including an MS in Data Science program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible online learning platform that fits your busy life.

1 Source: Glassdoor 50 Best Jobs in America for 2019
2 Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
3 Source: www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/3RL3VXGA

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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