Why study data science? Degrees, jobs and salaries

by Jennifer Johnson,

  • Teacher drawing on white board

If you could invest in one form of insurance for your career, consider data science first. 

We are data machines. We are constantly gathering, processing or analyzing it in some form at work or school — and when we’re not, we’re creating 44 billion gigabytes of it every day. 

As we find more ways to connect our lives to technology, more of our lives are represented by data. We now rely on processes like analytics to improve our healthcare system, predict a band’s next hit song or measure the effectiveness of an email campaign to a political constituency. This shift toward technology will only increase in the future, as will the need for more people who can interpret it. 

In the past few years, the job market for data scientists has exploded — the job is considered by several institutions as the No. 1 job due to salary and employee satisfaction. Thousands of opportunities are available, and if that pool is expanded to include jobs requiring related skills — like modeling techniques or automation of analytics processes — the number grows exponentially, said Assistant Professor of Marketing Jameson KM Watts

Data science is useful because the knowledge can be applied across many disciplines, so you’re not limited to a single profession. In addition, the coursework suits people at almost any stage in their career — from first-year students to working professionals who enroll in certificate programs like Atkinson Graduate School of Management’s Data Science for Professionals. 

Few fields are as dynamic as data science and fewer can guarantee as much success, today and down the road. In one of Watts’ recent classes, an HR manager who works for Intel told his students that the company is increasingly  interested in human resource personnel who have analytics skills because so much of the job deals with data. 

“All of the jobs in the future are going to require these skills, in one form or another,” Watts said. “The most qualified applicants in any discipline are able to work with and derive insights from data.” 


  • Data science product manager 
  • Associate professor 
  • Customer facing data scientist 
  • Advance technology group data scientist 
  • Air quality data scientist 
  • Data scientist consultant 
  • Applied data scientist 
  • Data science manager 


  • IBM
  • Yelp! 
  • Root 
  • Major League Baseball 
  • Amazon
  • Stitch Fix 
  • Aetna 
  • Adobe 

Average salary

$95,998-$120,495 per year  

Willamette University

University Communications

Waller Hall, Fourth Floor
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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