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Data scientist

Alternative titles for this job include Data engineer, machine learning engineer, AI data scientist

Data scientists use software, artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse and interpret large amounts of data.

Average salary (a year)

£32,000 Starter


£82,500 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 week

You could work

between 8am and 6pm flexibly

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a data scientist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • a Civil Service training programme


You can begin your career in data science by studying for a relevant degree or postgraduate qualification, such as:

  • maths
  • statistics
  • data science
  • computer science
  • operational research

Subjects that include a lot of statistics, like physics, engineering or psychology may also be useful.

Graduates of other subjects can do a postgraduate master's conversion course to get into AI and data science.

Funding is also available to encourage people from under-represented groups to come into the profession.

Doing an internship or industry work placement as part of your course can give you an advantage when looking for jobs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship, for example:

  • Data Engineer Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship
  • Data Scientist Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship
  • Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist Level 7 Degree Apprenticeship
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Data Specialist Level 7 Professional Apprenticeship

These can take between 2 and 3 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

You could apply directly to companies and organisations if you have the right skills and experience from working with data. You may be able to find roles with:

  • the NHS
  • financial and professional services firms
  • IT companies
  • retail and sales organisations
  • government departments

Other Routes

You could register for a place on the Civil Service Fast Stream scheme to work in data. You'll need a degree, postgraduate award or have completed a degree apprenticeship to apply.

Real career story

Find out how Karen became a principal data scientist.

A woman with a dark blue blouse smiling widely in front of a dark background.

After school 

“I enjoyed maths and solving problems at school and went on to do a maths degree.”

Data analyst 

“My first graduate job was as a data analyst for the NHS, helping clinicians evaluate their medical interventions.”

Data scientist

“I had the opportunity to move into a data science team which allowed me to upskill in coding, and apply my knowledge to different problems.”

Principal data scientist

“I’ve worked my way up to principal data scientist, leading teams and helping others learn. It’s an exciting time to be working in artificial intelligence, and this job gives me the flexibility to work part time to look after my young daughter.” 

More Information

Career tips

Look out for coding bootcamps that offer intensive training courses in computing and data science.

You can also find free computer science and coding courses through The Skills Toolkit.

It will be useful to build up your knowledge of coding, analysis and data manipulation software packages like:

  • R
  • SQL
  • Python
  • Power BI
  • Excel

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Institute of Analytics (IoA) or The Royal Statistical Society for training and development opportunities, and to make contacts in the industry.

Further information

You can find out more about a career as a data scientist from The Royal Statistical Society and The Chartered Institute for IT.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of computer operating systems and software packages like R or Python
  • knowledge of maths and statistics
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • an understanding of how businesses are managed and operated
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a data scientist, you could:

  • gather data from different sources to create models and test ideas
  • analyse data patterns to form insights and make policy recommendations
  • set up automated data systems to transform business processes
  • make sure information management meets data security and quality standards
  • explain to different audiences how AI and data science can benefit their organisation

Possible green job

This job could help the environment.

For a data scientist to be a green job, you could:

  • develop systems to cut down on waste and help businesses operate more sustainably
  • identify and store only relevant data to reduce the energy consumption of servers
  • use AI and machine learning to process huge amounts of real-time data more efficiently, for example in climate modelling

Find out more about green careers

Working environment

You could work in an office or remotely.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in:

  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • database management

You might also:

  • move up to senior or principal data scientist
  • become a departmental strategy manager
  • go into academic research and university teaching
  • work as a freelance data consultant

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Data Science Apprentice

  • Wage: £20,000.00 Annually

Data Scientist Degree Apprenticeship - Level 6

  • Wage: Competitive salary Annually
  • Location: London

Courses In England

Access to Higher Education Diploma Data Science

  • Start date: 04 September 2024
  • Location: Birmingham

BSc (Hons) in Data Science - The University of Winchester - Data Scientist Degree Apprenticeship

  • Start date: 17 September 2025
  • Location: Winchester

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