What it takes to score the ‘best job in America’

Data science jobs are the best jobs in America, according to Glassdoor. And scoring a data scientist jobs isn’t impossible, but it certainly helps if you develop a number of different coding skills.  

Glassdoor released a study on Thursday that lists the 10 most frequently mentioned skills in job listings for data scientists, all of which involved coding languages, including Java, Python, SQL, Tableau, and Hadoop. The sample consisted of nearly 10,000 data scientist job listings from January through July of this year.

It’s perhaps not surprising that data scientists — who essentially use their honed coding and analytical skills cto organize large chunks of data —  are in such incredible demand. For the second year in a row, the job has topped Glassdoor’s Best Jobs in America list, boasting a median annual salary of $110,000 and a 4.4 out of 5 job satisfaction score on the site. Harvard Business Review once  called the job the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” To wit, Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Aetna (AET), Bank of America (BAC) and Allstate (AAL-PB) are just a few of the numerous companies currently looking to hire capable data scientists.

“As companies have a huge amount of data now, they need people to make sense of it and to make some big decisions,” explained Ling Cheng, a data science manager at Glassdoor.

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Jobs parents misunderstand the most

10.  Fashion designer (57%)

(Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty Images)

9.     Software developer (58%)

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8.     Investment banker (59%)

(Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images)

7.     Sociologist (60%)

(FogStock/Erik Palmer via Getty Images)

6.     Radio producer (62%)

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5.     Sub editor (66%)

(FrankieMea via Getty Images)

4.     Social media manager (67%)


3.     Data scientist (72%)

(shironosov via Getty Images)

2.     Actuary (73%)

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1.     UI designer (80%)

(T.T. via Getty Images)


Cheng, who has been a data scientist at several businesses, describes her role as hugely satisfying because she is constantly asking questions in an effort to detect patterns and trends in the large swaths of data she examines every day.

Thankfully, there isn’t just one narrow path to becoming a data scientist. Although Cheng says people who excel in the role usually have skills in areas such as business and mathematical statistics. Some of the coding skills Glassdoor mentions can be learned through master’s programs or even boot camps that teach skills in a shorter period of time.

Most avenues toward obtaining these skills require money to enroll.  Other resources such as Udacity and Kaggle offer free online courses which could also help you develop some of the skills needed to land an entry-level data analyst and work your way up to a data scientist role.

As time goes on, Cheng foresees data science diversifying further into different specialized roles — a movement Glassdoor is already observing.

Translation: demand for good data scientists, if you can make the leap, won’t dry up anytime soon.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter.  

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