What can I do with a degree in Data Science?

Data science head of data

The data we generate is growing exponentially and increasing in complexity day by day. The storage, maintenance, and analysis of data is important for organisations who are accumulating data faster than they can process effectively. New sources of data such as web logs, mobile devices, and embedded sensors require new techniques to make sense of this deluge of “big data”, and graduates with the skills to develop and use these technologies.

Data science draws from mathematics, statistics, and computer science to turn data into meaningful insights. Graduates are at the forefront of technical innovation by developing and implementing new techniques for data analysis and decision making.

Aotearoa New Zealand and other countries are currently experiencing a skills shortage in this area. Data Science graduates develop a valuable set of skills that include:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Numerical confidence
  • Advanced analytical capability
  • Communication
  • Group work
  • Algorithm design and programming
  • Database software
  • An understanding of techniques and theories from mathematics, statistics, computer science, and business intelligence.

Data Science graduates are employed in a range of organisations. Many go on to work in:

  • Technology companies
  • Consulting and research firms
  • Manufacturing and retail sectors
  • Professional services
  • Healthcare
  • Not-for-profit sector
  • Finance and insurance
  • Science organisations
  • Start-up businesses
  • Government agencies.

A variety of organisations in Aotearoa New Zealand have hired recent university graduates for data science roles. For example:

  • Public sector bodies such as: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defence, and the New Zealand Police; and
  • Private organisations such as: Weta Digital, Fonterra Co-operative Group, Heartland Bank, Tenzing Management and Technology Consultants, Spark NZ, FAST NZ, Sysware, Harmonic Analytics, and SLI Systems.

With global demand increasing apace, there are also significant opportunities to work abroad as a data scientist, especially in the USA. Fortune 500 companies are building their own data science teams to extract insights from their data to stay ahead of the curve, and businesses are being built around new ideas that exist almost entirely in the digital world.

Data science is a fast-growing employment sector. Job titles could include some of the below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Examples:

Data scientist

  • Analyses past and current data
  • Makes predictions and provides insight
  • Acts as a bridge between IT experts and business analysts

Data analyst

  • Analyses data and modelling to solve problems
  • Gains insight across differing domains and functions

Intelligence advisor

  • Ensures a high level of data quality
  • Understands industry datasets and processes
  • Conducts analysis, monitoring and reporting
  • Responds to incidents and resolves problems

Insights analyst

  • Deploys surveys and analyses data to help understand patterns and opportunities
  • Prepares reports, presentations, new ideas and communicates to stakeholders or clients
  • Develops tools, processes and training

Analytics officer

  • Oversees analytical operations
  • Communicates insights to decision makers

Database coordinator / administrator

  • Designs and builds an organisation’s data infrastructure
  • Maintains the database
  • Provides analytical support to others

Data engineer, big data developer

  • Uses coding frameworks and software packages to analyse large datasets
  • Extracts and transforms big data efficiently
  • Solves complex data engineering problems

Technical / project analyst

  • Utilises data and analytical models for technical or project purposes
  • Provides insight to help make technical or project decisions
  • Liaises with different project personnel

Business analyst

  • Utilises data and analytical models for organisational information purposes
  • Provides insight to assist with strategic and operational decisions
  • Liaises with different business functions

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their services as a freelancer or consultant

Entrepreneurship and innovation are an increasing part of the working landscape.

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress in their studies and into a career, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations often provide regular communications and offer the opportunity to network with others within the same community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

For more information

see the Data Science subject page