Demand for data scientists is expected to grow by 28% by 2020, according to an IBM report, and given other expert opinions, that’s not an unreasonable estimate. Let’s look at the trends driving this demand, the current employment stats, and the long-term outlook for this profession. We’ll also address the different job categories associated with data science and the demand for data analysis skills overall across the board.

Job Categories

Data science and data analysis skills range from basic querying and report generation to data mining of data “lakes” to find information that is otherwise invisible in the firehose of data that so many businesses are collecting too fast to make use of. Data scientists are the ones trained to do advanced analytics, though their need for advanced math and programming skills is not as high.

Below this are data systems developers like systems analysts and database administrators. Analytics managers oversee data analysis operations and communicate findings; these jobs include marketing analysists and managers of data analysis departments. Functional analysts use data and data models to make informed business decisions in a very narrow area. Job titles in this area include financial analysts and business analysts. Data-driven decision makers are simply any manager who needs to be able to find answers to questions they have and make informed decisions based on that decision.

Employment Figures

In 2011, McKinsey’s report said that by 2018, up to two hundred thousand data scientists would be needed. The career outlook for Data Scientists is strong since the number of data scientists has grown by nearly 700% since 2012 and there is now a host of online and offline degree courses covering data science, which are proving popular with students. These figures don’t include roles like data engineers, data quality experts, data governance professionals, or chief data officers.

In 2017, IBM predicted that demand for data scientists would soar by 28% in just three years. Job growth has far surpassed supply, which is why these jobs take far longer to fill that other STEM positions.

General Demand for the Skillset

The ability to query, mine, and analyze data is essential to an estimated one and a half million managers. Advanced data analytics is considered essential to professions like economists and intelligence agency employees. Machine learning is generating a massive number of jobs in data analysis, though the tremendous volumes of data collected by organizations in the hope that it is useful are also increasing demand for data analysts at all levels.

Demand for people creating the software that can mine masses of data to present results is growing. Big Data Developers has increased 5.5 times over the past five years. Full stack developers have seen demand for their skills go up by a factor of five over the past five years. If you’re specialized in machine learning via AI analysis of massive data sets, demand for your skills has grown ten-fold over the past five years.


Big Data, customer behavior tracking through apps and data collection by telecoms and the internet of things is sure to drive demand for data scientists in the future. Those with a solid formation will stand to benefit from these opportunities, as they are expected to be more numerous and varied in the coming years.