From masters to Microsoft: 7 charts that plot the path of today’s data scientists

There are currently 11,400 data scientists worldwide and 52% of them earned that title within the past 4 years. Where are they coming from? Where are they working? What did they do to get here?

Based on a massive study done by RJMetrics that analyzed 360 million LinkedIn profiles, we were able to answer these questions and more in order to paint a picture of the state of data science today.

In this post, we’ll look at 7 charts that determine the education level of data scientists, their areas of study, where geographically they work, and which companies they work for.

What degrees are producing the most data scientists?

Out of the roughly 10,000 data scientists who listed degrees on their LinkedIn profiles, 42% finished their education with a Master’s degree.

Graduate degrees, in general, are extremely popular among data scientists, representing 79% of the population.

Additionally, when you look at education level across the different seniority levels — Junior, Senior, and Chief Data Scientist — you can see that Senior Data Scientists actually have the highest ratio of PhDs to Master’s degrees.

Within those degrees, we found that the many areas of study for data scientists were similar.

Besides business administration/management, the majority of backgrounds for those boasting a graduate degree were STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Which countries have the most data scientists?

55% of the data scientists we found were located in the US, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering data science originated in the US, the US has arguably the highest concentration of tech companies in the world, and over 30% of LinkedIn’s users are in America.

What is interesting is the number of data scientists practicing out of India, the Netherlands, and Israel.

In fact, when we normalized the data, Israel, not the US, had the highest concentration of data scientists: more than double that of any other country.

Which companies do these data scientists work for?

Today’s companies are expected to build a data-driven culture. As an article by McKinsey put it:

Big data and analytics have climbed to the top of the corporate agenda. Together, they promise to transform the way companies do business, delivering the kind of performance gains last seen in the 1990s, when organizations redesigned their core processes. And as data-driven strategies take hold, they will become an increasingly important point of competitive differentiation.

Some businesses are taking this initiative more seriously than others. When we looked at who data scientists actually work for, we found that Microsoft employs nearly twice as many data scientists as any other company.

The software giant is also growing its data scientist population the fastest. From 2013 to 2014, Microsoft went from 49 data scientists to 123 – a 151% increase.

What’s next for data science?

In the closing section of The State of Data Science, Lillian Pierson (author of Data Science for Dummies) gave her two cents about what these findings say about the future, “My personal belief is that the next four years of growth in the profession will come from those who work in adjacent fields and now just need to sharpen their skills.”

Additionally, as Senior Data Scientists move into C-Suite roles, we expect to see more and more PhDs in the field. However, if the data scientist title continues its rise in popularity, we’ll likely see more hopefuls pursue educational paths tailored specifically towards data science, instead of pursue PhDs only to make the jump into data science. Hiring data scientists will continue to get more challenging while we wait for the skills gap to close.

If you’d like more analysis about this data and a more detailed explanation about our methods, you can check out the full State of Data Science.

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