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:
- 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.
You'll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship, for example:
- 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.
You'll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
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
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.
“I enjoyed maths and solving problems at school and went on to do a maths degree.”
“My first graduate job was as a data analyst for the NHS, helping clinicians evaluate their medical interventions.”
“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.”
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:
- Power BI