Undeclared: Exploring Data Science Careers

A major in Data Sciences can lead to careers in Business Analytics, Health Informatics, Crime Analytics, Cybersecurity and more! 

Many freshmen students start out college undeclared; they aren’t sure what they want to major in and hope to use their first year to find something they want to study. Unfortunately, many students take up to 2 years to decide on a major and they may even switch majors several times up into their junior year. This wastes a lot of time and money, and can significantly delay graduation.

If you have no idea what you want to major in, one option you might consider is taking time off from college. If taking a break isn’t an option for you, doing your research and finding a major you can be passionate about should be your number one priority. The sooner you declare a major that you want to stick with, the more you can focus on taking the classes you need to graduate, allowing you to stay on track to graduate on time.

Here is the second in a series for discovering majors and what opportunities each can hold.

A Degree in Data Sciences

Though not yet available at all universities, an up-and-coming major popping up at a variety of schools is a degree in data sciences. As technology grows, and our ability to collect data and learn from it increases, the demand for big data professionals is opening jobs in a multitude of fields. People proficient in gathering and analyzing data in a way that benefits businesses, healthcare, data security and beyond are going to be very valuable and coveted in the years to come.

Depending on the particular career, you may need to get a master’s specific to data science and analytics in that field, but it will be well worth the effort for the math and analytics enthusiast looking for a lucrative and stable career.

Here are some career paths you can consider when you have a degree in data sciences:

Business Analytics

Companies of all kinds are making data analytics a priority in their business model. Due to the massive evolution of big data, businesses are able to take all the information they gather daily from various sources and learn how to improve their infrastructure and predict future successes. The conclusions derived from the results of big data analysis are helping to drive the decisions that will help businesses grow and improve services for their customers.

For example, small businesses and large corporations alike will benefit from market analysis, gathering data from target consumers and analyzing where they interact most, what products are most popular, and which types of advertising are most effective in driving sales. Another field is Search engine optimization (SEO) which tries to discover top keywords and search phrases for specific industries to give marketers the information they need to successfully build their brand and raise their Google search rank.

Health Informatics

Another field that is predicted to see strong growth in the coming years is the healthcare industry. Big data has a significant place in this field, and data scientists will be integral in helping the growth and accuracy of health data analysis, in conjunction with doctors and nurses.

According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, the healthcare system is becoming increasingly reliant on data, and analytics will “help derive insights on systemic wastes of resources, can track individual practitioner performance, and can even track the health of populations and identify people at risk for chronic diseases.”

Analyzing healthcare data will also allow fast cross-referencing of medical research and the health history of patients everywhere. This will help patient care by assisting healthcare professionals to diagnose patients more quickly and accurately based on their personal history, those with similar histories, and medical research without having to spend the time to do individual research on their own. Instead, doctors and nurse practitioners can use their experience and knowledge to determine the accuracy of the diagnostic analysis, and spend more time directly with the patient and focus on their healing.

Data scientists will be vital to the implementation and maintenance of healthcare analytics, and it will be a career path with plenty of opportunities for years to come.

Crime Analytics

For someone who is interested in a career in crime prevention, has a mind for analytics — but doesn’t quite like the idea of the terrifying excitement of being out on the field with a gun and bullet-proof vest — a career in crime analytics could be just the thing.

Analytics and big data can be used in crime prevention by using the data accumulated to find crime trends and predict possible future crimes. While it sounds like something out of “Minority Report,” it’s more realistic when you see how it works. By combining the crime data from several years, crime data analysts can pinpoint where certain crimes tend to happen and what they might entail — such as a district in a city that is a hotbed for selling drugs or physical assault. Once crime trends are identified, local law enforcement can increase their resources and patrol those areas more.

Cybersecurity and Business Compliance

Along with physical crime, cybercrime is also an area where data scientists will be valued for their analytic abilities. With more and more people displaying their personal information on the internet and corporations keeping larger and larger databases on their customers, opportunities for cyber attacks are numerous. While the actual securing of data and networks is typically left to the cybersecurity professionals, there is a need for data scientists to analyze where and to who cyberattacks most frequently happen, and find trends associated with best ways to prevent such attacks.

One emerging and related career area is business compliance in the financial and banking industries. Examples of this are: 1) Anti-Money Laundering (AML) aims at detecting and stopping the practice of moving money through the financial system that was generated by illegal activities, and 2) Regulatory Analytics focuses on compliance with government regulations and deals with issues like insider trading.


These data science career paths are just a handful of many careers you can seek out when you acquire a degree in data science. Big data isn’t going anywhere and will only increase in importance as we become more reliant on technology to help us in our daily lives. A degree in data sciences will open up many of unique job opportunities that will keep you gainfully employed and interested for the long haul.



Mila Sanchez is a writer and recent graduate with a BA in English Linguistics. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram!


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