These In-Demand Jobs Promise Fantastic Pay – If You Can Make the Grade

For those with the mix of education and skills needed, data crunching can be extremely lucrative

Aug 17, 2014 at 11:00AM

Flickr / notbrucelee.

No doubt you've heard about "big data", those mounds of information being garnered from every collectable source, pretty much every minute of every day. Whether that data is being used to help college students choose lucrative careers, or to predict consumer behavior, workers are needed who can turn these oceans of information into usable business intelligence.

Data scientists are becoming the employees of the future, as companies who need their expertise court them with personalized letters, chocolates – and huge salaries. 

Jobs are many...
Nearly every business sector you can imagine has a need for data scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which acknowledges that the occupational segment is quite new, currently has no "data scientist" designation, but lists those who work with big data by titles such as statisticians and computer programmers. 

 BLS notes that industries as diverse as finance and health care use big data, as well as government entities. The Wall Street Journal describes several big data opportunities at Internet-based firms, such as social media sites and business-review sites.

The WSJ notes that these jobs are so in-demand that data scientists with two years' experience are commanding salaries between $200,000 and $300,000 annually.

...qualified candidates are few
Though jobs for data scientists are becoming plentiful, finding the right candidate can be tough. Likewise, those looking to entering the field will find educational requirements akin to those of rocket scientists. Coursework in science, technology, math, and statistics are core requirements. Most often, a graduate degree in a STEM discipline is preferred. A study published last summer by Burtch Works showed that 46% of data scientists held a PhD, and 42% had earned a Master's degree. Only 11% had only a Bachelor's degree. 


Flickr / nyuhuhuu.

Specialization is also key. The BLS notes that, for instance, data scientists who want to work with health care companies would do well to have some background in the industry. Often, however, having education or experience in one field helps the data scientist get a job in a completely different discipline. The WSJ mentions one astrophysicist who now works for Yelp, as well as a former biostatistician who crunches data for e-commerce site Etsy.

That's not all. Employers want soft skills, too – great communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team being of paramount importance. Then, there are those characteristics that make these data tamers worth those glamorous salaries: intellectual curiosity, and the ability to make sense of seemingly unrelated pieces of data.

Once interpretations are made, the data scientists must then create statistical models that use those reams of information to give the employer insight into customer behavior. In this occupation, problem-solving skills are an absolute must.

For STEM students who are interested in pursuing a career in big data, employment is practically guaranteed. With the surging demand and dearth of qualified candidates, higher education and business have joined forces to help increase the pool of candidates. A program called Insight Data Science Fellows Program near Stanford University, for example has a job placement rate of 100%. 

With the sector still evolving, it may be difficult to identify which areas of study will produce the desired mix of education and skills required for big data jobs. Colleges and universities are rushing to fill the void, dishing up new offerings that can help students tailor their degrees to suit these jobs. With an estimated 4 million jobs in big data opening up by 2018, the time to begin acquiring the right combination of skills and training is right now.

Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days. Click here to watch this stunning video.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers