Data scientist

A data scientist turns raw data into valuable insights that an organisation needs in order to grow and compete. He or she is part statistician, part artist – interpreting and analysing data from multiple sources to come up with imaginative solutions to problems. It’s a rapidly evolving role in a fast-changing sector and one that is in big demand.


The role of data scientist has evolved and expanded from that of data analyst. As with an analyst, they organise and analyse data collected by an organisation, such as sales figures, logistics, market research etc. The difference is that a data scientist will use their strong business sense along with an ability to communicate findings to both business and IT leaders in a way that can influence how an organisation approaches a business challenge. Data scientists may have different functions depending on which industry/sector they are involved in, for example a data scientist working for Facebook might analyse the types of pages users ‘like’, and then use this information to decide what type of advertisements the user will see when using their Facebook account. They combine practical skills like coding and maths with the ability to analyse statistics. The main programming languages often used within analytics, data mining and data science are R, SAS, Python and SQL, while knowledge of Java, C/C++, Perl and Ruby. A major trend has recently surfaced called “Big Data” and as a result data scientists are in demand worldwide. Big data refers to the collection (or mining) and analysis of massive amounts of data.

Alternative job titles

  • Data analyst  
  • Informatics analyst
  •  Analytics officer
  • Digital analytics manager

What the job involves

  • Use strong business acumen, and ability to communicate findings to mine vast amounts of data for useful insights
  •  Use these insights to influence how an organisation approaches business challenges • Use a combined knowledge of computer science and applications, modelling, statistics, analytics and maths to solve problems
  • Extract data from multiple sources • Sift and analyse the data from multiple angles, looking for trends that highlight problems or opportunities
  • Communicate important information and insights to business and IT leaders
  • Make recommendations to adapt existing business strategies

How your career can develop

With many of the world’s top tech companies such as Google and Facebook with a significant presence in Ireland, data analysts are in big demand. From there, experience and further study to MA and PhD level can mean progression to data scientist level. Why it matters Earlier this year, the White House hired it’s first-ever data scientist to help the government harness the power of innovation and big data.


  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  •  Teamwork skills
  •  Investigative skills
  •  Interest in statistics
  •  Interest in predicting trends and identifying patterns
  •  Innovative thinking
  •  Observation skills
  •  Critical thinking

Typical employers

  • Universities and third-level research institutions
  • Wide range of companies from State agencies and departments to manufacturers and service providers such as banks, airlines, large retailers etc
  • Big data companies such as Google and Facebook


Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €35,000
  • Senior/Potential €75,000+ after 10 years

Typical qualifications

Entry level can be gained through courses in computer science, data management, statistics, and specific software applications. However, a 4-year degree course is recommended for this career path. These are usually in the area of statistics, maths, business administration, or computer science. Students can also study a related topic at Post Leaving Certificate course or diploma level, before progressing to degree level. Job candidates frequently complete master's degrees to gain a competitive edge.