Making a Smart Career Choice: Data Scientist or Data Analyst

Author: PeopleFinders on May 21st, 2020
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As people start to use technology more and more in their everyday lives, new career choices are opening up, especially for young people trying to find where they fit in the job world. Some of the more up-and-coming jobs in the technology sector are data scientist and data analyst, two jobs that are similar on the surface but have very different specialties. If this type of work interests you, here are some things to keep in mind about making this career choice.

What’s the Difference Between a Data Scientist and a Data Analyst?

At first glance, these two jobs may seem like the same or similar career choices. However, they’re actually very different, even though they both deal with large amounts of data in their day-to-day work. Making sure you have a clear idea of what both data scientists and data analysts do is crucial to your decision, because both require different educational and practical backgrounds.

Data Analyst

Essentially, what data analysts do is comb through data to uncover trends and present the information they’ve discovered to the businesses they’re working for. Data analysts work exclusively with pre-existing information, trying to find out what business choices have previously been successful in certain sectors. They look to the past so higher-ups can look to the future.

Data Scientist

Where a data analyst works mostly behind the scenes in a passive manner, a data scientist has a much more active role in the employer’s business. Data scientists design new processes for future data, and may use predictive models to help higher-ups understand the best choices to make to ensure successful business decisions.

What Will I Have to Do As a Data Analyst?

Data analysts have much lower education and experience requirements than data scientists, but they still require a substantial amount of schooling. Even for entry-level data analyst jobs, you’ll need to get your bachelor’s degree in math, statistics and computer science, information management, finance, or economics. If you’re interested in finding more advanced data analyst jobs, you’ll want to earn a master’s degree in computer science or information management, or at least obtain a graduate certificate in a similar field.

Usually, people pursue a career in data analysis because they love statistics and are good at finding correlations between different points. The data being analyzed can come from many different places; for example, you can find plenty of data at PeopleFinders. With PeopleFinders, you’ll be able to comb through public records and criminal records, which can help you find patterns in family, in management positions of companies, and more. Whether you’re using it as a starting point at a job or you’re using it for practice as a student, PeopleFinders is a great place to find huge amounts of data, and the PeopleFinders blog can give you more ideas on how to use it!

What Will I Be Doing as a Data Scientist?

Data scientists have to go through much more training than data analysts do, as creating new ways to measure and export data is more complicated than analyzing it using existing structures. To land a data science job, you’ll usually have to have a graduate diploma, such as a Master’s, an MBA, or a PhD, although some entry-level jobs may accept undergraduate diplomas in analytically heavy sciences, such as computer science, economics, or statistics. However, to move up in the field, you’ll want to pursue higher education.

Choosing to pursue a career as a data scientist usually means that you’ll be working to formulate new and innovative ways to use data. If you’re a very creative person, but you still love hard data, becoming a data scientist can be an extremely smart career choice. Data scientists get the best of both worlds when it comes to STEM skills and other creative skills. If you’re willing to go through the many years of schooling required, you may find a fulfilling and lucrative career; the mean annual salary for North American data scientists is $89,000, with the career ladder going all to $138,000 and up.


Data scientists and data analysts are both extremely important to businesses, as they both fulfill different requirements in the business world. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, every business requires someone to crunch numbers, and you could be that person. To practice for your upcoming job, you can use PeopleFinders to gather data and string together ideas.

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