A Trillion Dollar Career in Data Science

14th February 2019

I have some great news for you.  

Data Science has been voted the best job 3 years in a row by Glassdoor.  Now we don’t have the 2018 numbers yet but it would be hard for me to imagine Data Science dropping at all much less more than a few spaces.  So first of all congratulations on making some great decisions about your career and the direction you have chosen. You have entered a field that is going to give you a lot of options and great job security.

However, before I share the outlook data I wanted to step back and take a look at the big picture as to why Data Science is important and how it fits into the big picture of the overall economy and what the future of the industry looks like as a whole.   If you open any media outlet you are likely to see a story about how AI is going to change just about anything and everything. Self driving cars get a lot of press, but AI as a business tool is coming into its own.

A trillion dollar industry

According to Gartner AI was worth an approximate 1.2 trillion dollars to the world economy in 2018.  That represents an increase of 70% over 2017. If the growth of AI in the market place is only one third of what it was in 2018 Data Science powered AI tools will be worth approximately 1.5 trillion dollars in 2019. According to that same report by 2022 AI is estimated to be worth 3.9 trillion dollars to the world economy.  For context if the value of AI was a country in 2022, it would be one of the 10 wealthiest countries in the world.

So what does that mean for you and the future of Data Science as a whole? As most people in the industry are aware, but rarely say, the data behind an AI and its Machine Learning algorithms are of secondary in importance to the quality and volume of the data behind the process. The executives at companies that develop AI understand that the term AI is a good marketing term, and that Data Science is the proverbial wizard behind the curtain.

The market is expanding faster than demand can keep up. That is good news for anyone in the industry. From a career perspective it gives you a lot of flexibility on where and how you want to work. Understanding the growth in demand and the value you bring, put you in a better negotiating position than employers. If a company can’t offer you a salary increase I would recommend negotiating other perks. Look for a sign-on bonus, extra vacation, work from home or increased PTO.

Your career development

There are a few paths that data science can offer you. There are also a few things you can do today that can give you access to some of the most desirable jobs in data science in the future. In general the demand for technical experts and leaders will increase. A solid first step for either direction. is to get an advanced degree. A master’s degree in Data Science will open the door for you into technical expertise or leadership. If you plan to become a technical expert you need to learn R and most likely Python. Python is the language that enables machine learning and it is becoming increasingly valuable.

Data Scientists are going to be working more frequently and closely with Data Engineers. Having basic coding skills will help the relationship function more efficiently. Data Scientists who can communicate with Engineers on their own terms are the most likely to be chosen to lead cross functional teams. Think of this role as both technical expert and translator. Technical experts will develop a specialty that will limit some of their career options but it will make them more valuable. As with any other career, leadership is generally selected from practitioners.  

Leaders need to be able to manage a team and a process. They also need to communicate with the non technical professionals in the business. Taking courses on AI and its business impact would be valuable. Classes and certifications in and around change management should also be considered. AI and Data Science are making drastic changes in the economy and in many traditional business activities. Becoming leader who not only understands data science but also change, will make you worth more than your weight in gold.

There is no better time to invest on your skills

So there is great news for the industry and it is unwise to sit on our laurels.  Businesses are starting to feel the benefits now. Now is the time to invest in your skills and position yourself in an advantageous place to the unknowable opportunities that will present themselves over the next 18 months.

As you acquire new skills make sure you update your resume and your LinkedIn profile.  You can also set your LinkedIn profile to indicate that you are open to hearing about opportunities.  I’d recommend changing this setting every six months even if you aren’t ready to look for a job. I say this because you want to keep tabs on what is available and what you are worth to the market if nothing else.  In my career I’ve interviewed thousands of people and helped hundreds find a new job. I will share with you some of the advice I given thousands of times before. Spend 90% of your time on your job and 10% of your time on your career.   If you do this you will give yourself the best chance at the best opportunities for you and your career.


Read also: What not to put on your Data Science CV

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Mike Wolford

A published author and experienced recruiter. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Mike published “Becoming the Silver Bullet: Recruiting Strategies for connecting with Top Talent” and “How to Find and Land your Dream Job: Insider.

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