Career Pathway: Data Science

Pathway Overview

Why Data Science?

  • High demand and low supply
  • Booming field
  • Desirable payscale

Big data is an exploding field creating a new specialization in the technology fields that combines analytic methods and data science. Many industries need employees who can analyze data and create actionable approaches to emerging technologies, like AI and machine learning. These skills are in high demand and low supply. That means, there’s plenty of room for growth and you can take the time to find the right fit for you. If you like to collect, clean, visualize, analyze, or problem solve with data, this field is for you!

Note: Analyst, engineer, and scientist are terms used interchangeably. The title, however, may indicate the position level. For example, “lead data analyst” often refers to a mid-level role, whereas data specialist likely refers to an Entry-level position. 


Note: Many employers encourage at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field for a data analytics/science position. There are no “required” certifications; any requirements for a role will be noted accordingly on job postings. This list is composed of certifications that some employers may seek in candidates.

CertificationDefinition/PurposeAssociated Roles
CAPCertified Analytics ProfessionalAll roles in the data landscape.
Oracle (BI) Oracle Business Intelligence CertificationMid-level roles that work with business intelligence solutions.
SASCertified Data Scientist Data scientist or a role that works with big data.
CCACloudera Certified Data Analyst Core certification for SQL developer/technical roles. Must pass the CCA Data Analyst Exam. 
MCSE Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Any role in the data landscape. There are four certifications to choose from. 

In-Demand Skills

Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and background, as well as your proficiency in the skills below.

Field Specific Skills

  • Advanced Microsoft Excel
  • Big Data Analytics and Visualization
  • Business Intelligence Software Databases:
    • SQL/NoSQL
    • Tableau
    • MongoDB
    • Hadoop
  • Data Mining and Warehousing
  • Advanced Statistics
  • Business Intelligence Software
  • Machine Learning
  • Python Programming
  • Data Analysis and Modeling (Python, R)

Transferable Skills & Qualities

  • Detail Oriented
  • Business-Driven
  • Collaborative
  • Critical Thinking
  • Data-Driven
  • Leadership-Oriented
  • Organized
  • Presentation-Adept
  • Project-Management Focused
  • Quality-Assurance Minded
  • Supply-Chain-Management Centered
  • Communicative

Job Titles

Note: This is a basic guide to kick-start exploration, not a complete list of all paths. See specific job descriptions for more details.


(Junior) Data Analyst

Collect, organize, and interpret information using data analysis tools for a company or organization. They check the quality of data and guide employers or clients on important decisions based on facts and trends. Simply put, they make meaning out of large amounts of data and create solutions to address business challenges. Analysts may also work with a research team to present their findings or recommendations. Tags: Data Analytics Manager, Data Specialist

Relevant Certifications: CAP, CCA, Microsoft Certified Expert (various apps), None Required 

Future Roles: Sr. Data Analyst, Consultant, BI Developer, Data Visualization Analyst, Data Engineer

Data Engineer

Data engineers create a foundation for analysts and scientists to build upon. By constructing data pipelines, they utilize tools and techniques to work with large and complex data at scale. Their focus is to build and optimize by continuously monitoring and testing performance. Tags: Database Engineer, Database Administrator, Machine Learning Engineer

Relevant Certifications: CAP, CCA, MCSE, Oracle MongoDB, None Required

Previous Roles: Software Developer, Data Analyst

Future Roles: Big Data Engineer, Business intelligence analyst, Data Scientist, Senior-Level Roles 


Applications Architect

Manages the overall roadmap of an information system—from structures to updates to developments—to formulate business-oriented solutions. Applications architects design event-driven analytics, as well as machine learning solutions at scale. Overall, they maintain and ensure application design standards and collaborate with stakeholders to meet business requirements. Tags: Data Architect, Solutions Architect, Web Application Architect

Relevant Certifications: Dependent on Applications, AWS Solutions Architect, or Scrum Master.

Required Certifications: Software/App Certifications Specific to a Role

Previous Roles: Software Developer/Engineer, Data Programmer, Consultant

Future Roles: Director/Senior Architect, Project Manager

Business Intelligence (BI) Developer

This role combines data analysis with problem-solving techniques. In establishing the data management framework, BI developers assess current procedures while developing data mapping and models to recommend best practices. They are responsible for reports, data visualization, migration, and validation. The role requires project management skills to guide a team toward quality standards and data consistency. Tags: BI, Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst II, Data Visualization Analyst, Operations Analyst

Relevant Certifications: CAP, CCA, MCSE, Oracle, None Required

Previous Roles: Data Analyst/Engineer, Consultant

Future Roles: Data Science, Project Manager, Senior Business Analyst/Developer

Data Scientist 

Data scientists use exploratory analysis to design and conduct research studies that interpret  complex data. They also create visualizations to deliver results and address business-focused challenges and solutions. They have expertise in statistics and build learning machine models to forecast and problem solve. Tags: None (other than level of position—Sr.)

Relevant Certifications: CAP, CCA, DASCA, EMCDSA, SAS, MCSE, Oracle, None Required 

Previous Roles: Data Analyst, Engineer

Future Roles: Director of Data Science or Other Senior-Level Positions

Big Data Developer 

Big data developers design analytic solutions by analyzing and processing large datasets through documentation, testing, automation, and optimization. They are innovative in their approaches to solutions and strong collaborators who work with teams and business partners to generate quality data. Tags: Big Data Engineer, Big Data Architect, Big Data Consultant

Relevant Certifications: CAP, CCA, DASCA, EMCDSA, SAS, MCSE, Oracle, None Required

Previous Roles: Data Analyst, Engineer

Future Roles: Senior/Director or Role Specific to an Application or System

Infrastructure Architect 

This role requires a passion for both design and architecture as infrastructure architects are  responsible for the overall delivery and roadmap of infrastructure solutions integration. This entails networking, visualization, drafting, and storage, as well as planning, documenting, testing, and coordinating overall implementation with business risk and cost efficiency in mind. Tags: Cloud Architect, Infrastructure Engineer, Infrastructure Delivery Manager, Infrastructure Developer

Relevant Certifications: Software/App Certifications Specific to Roles

Previous Roles: Consultant, Developer, Engineer

Future Roles: Director/Senior Architect, Project Manager

Machine Learning Engineer

The focus of this role is to research, develop, design, and test frameworks and data pipelines. Machine learning engineers primarily analyze requirements and implement models while working with data teams to build the infrastructure for deployment. Tags: Machine Learning Data Scientist, Test Engineer, Engineering Manager, Staff Engineer

Relevant Certifications: Oracle, MCSE, AWS, Certifications Specific to Role 

Previous Roles: Data Scientist, Project Manager

Future Roles: Data Engineer, VP of Machine Learning, Machine Learning Scientist, Architect


Director of Data Science

Directors of data science lead teams of data analysts, engineers, and scientists to ensure proper execution and function to enhance data management, best practices, and development of new methodologies. By designing the pipelines for their department, their team creates value from large data assets using database processing, statistics, and advanced machine learning techniques. Directors are responsible for communicating and presenting to senior executives and stakeholders recommended improvements to senior executives and stakeholders. Tags: Senior Director, Sr. Manager Global Data  

Relevant Certifications: DASCA, EMCDSA, SAS, MCSE, Oracle, Advanced Education Degree.

Previous Roles: Lead Data Scientist, Data Program Manager, Business Intelligence Director

Future Roles: Vice President, Senior-Level Role, Machine Learning Engineer

Principal Architect

Principal architects oversee the end-to-end

Management of data pathways. They understand business and stakeholder requirements, focus on solution strategy and design, carry out pipeline procedures, and lead architectural governance and oversight. Tags: Principal Software Architect, Enterprise Architect, Cloud Architect, Data Architect, Solutions Architect, etc.

Relevant Certifications: Certifications Specific to Role

Previous Roles: Consultant, Developer, Engineer, Lead Architect

Future Roles: Director/Senior Architect, Senior Project Manager

Help Us Improve