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Do you need

a degree in

computer science

to land a

data scientist position at a tech company?

Do you need a degree in computer science to get hired as a data scientist?


Data scientists typically receive their jobs through the company they work for or through an organization that hires them as a consultant. To get started, you may need to have some experience with coding and data analysis. After that, you'll likely need to attend an accredited college or university and complete at least one year of undergraduate-level computer science courses.

The reality is, if you have a degree in computer science, you’re in a great place to get a data scientist position at a tech company. After all, data scientists are responsible for analyzing and manipulating data to extract insights. They use their skills and knowledge to design algorithms and models that can help computers figure out how things work. In fact, there’s an increasing number of tech jobs that require a degree in computer science. So if your goal is to move up the career ladder, getting a degree in computer science is definitely a path you should consider.

Before you decide to study data science, there are a few things you should consider. First of all, math is involved in this field. So if you're not comfortable with numbers or mathematics in general, think twice about pursuing this career path. Secondly, data science is a complex field. So while some basic knowledge is definitely required, you'll have to learn a lot more than that to be successful in this career. And finally, data science is demanding. You should expect to work long hours and handle complex tasks. A degree holder in Computer Science or a related major will likely be prepared to pivot into data science.

But, what if you don't have a degree in computer science? Not all roads that lead to a successful and rewarding career in data science travel along the same route. There are still pathways to break into the field, for the ambitious and creative learner, professional certificates in Data Science from accredited learning institutions and providers can normally be sufficient, academically, and in some cases are seen as degree equivalent. In fact, professional certificates are widely recognized and accepted in the tech industry. In some cases, professional certificates in a data science field, such as data engineering or machine learning, can make a job-seeker more competitive and attractive to employers. And with the rapid evolution of data science in general, obtaining professional certificates can be a strategic move to keep up-to-date with industry trends and demands.

Professional certificate programs are popular and have several advantages over pursuing a traditional degree.


Obtaining a certificate in data science will likely be significantly cheaper than college tuition. How much you'll spend depends on your preference of education providers and your budget. However, the difference between costs can vary greatly. Platforms such as Coursera are on the low end, as far as affordability, while companies like General Assembly are mid- to high-cost alternatives.


Several, if not most, colleges and universities offer online classes. Most certificate programs in data science and related fields are hosted online. The difference is many programs follow a "self-study" framework, which allows a student to attend classes at their own pace and learn asynchronously. While this approach requires discipline and organization, others can benefit from structured cohorts that establish weekly milestones and deadlines. Some certificate programs in data science offer both; self-study and structured.


A significant factor when choosing a degree is often location. While online programs offer many benefits, not all are the same. Some people prefer to live in close proximity to professors and other classmates. If you thrive in an in-class learning environment, this would be the better option. In contrast, some professionals want to be able to work remotely if necessary or for a myriad of reasons cannot travel to a physical location. A certificate in data science can be delivered almost anywhere, which makes it a great choice for those who want more flexibility in their career path. Remote learning can be facilitated through live webinars (via Zoom or another platform), where students can interact with the instructor and each other in real time. Another form removes the interactivity of live classes, which is typically seen in self-paced programs. Lastly, some data science certificate programs are a hybrid of both styles – offering a "classroom" experience as well as independent study.

All of these benefits make obtaining a professional certificate in data science an attractive option for anyone looking to break into the field. Whether you have a degree or not, a data science certification will give you the skills and knowledge you need to get started in this fascinating and rapidly growing field. 

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Maths + English is a personal blog documenting my journey into data science. Topics I cover include ethics & data, machine learning, data analysis, business intelligence, and behavioral design,

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