Data Science, Project Management Attracting New Graduates’ Interest

What fields interest new graduates the most? What do they view as promising careers?

Earlier this year, The Muse surveyed 900 new graduates about their job outlook. Some 57 percent of those respondents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 36 percent cited high school as their highest degree. When asked about the field they most wanted to pursue, 18.2 percent said data and analytics, followed closely by education (17 percent) and project management (16.2 percent).

It’s no surprise that new graduates want to pursue a career in data. For one thing, it can pay really well. According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), the median salary for a data scientist currently stands at $112,359—a number that only rises with skills and experience.

Data-related skills are also very much in demand across a range of employers and industries. Researchers Thomas H. Davenport and DJ Patil recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review that insisted data science is a “sexy” job when it comes to job opportunities. “By 2019, postings for data scientists on Indeed had risen by 256 percent, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts data science will see more growth than almost any other field between now and 2029,” they wrote. “The sought-after job is generally paid quite well; the median salary for an experienced data scientist in California is approaching $200,000.”

If you’re a graduate who wants to land a job working in data and analytics, keep in mind that you’ll need to tailor your resume to put your skills, background, and previous projects in the best possible light. You’ll also need to emphasize your “soft skills” such as teamwork and communication, as specialists who work in data often need to work in teams and convey their results in an understandable way to other stakeholders throughout an organization.

Project managers are also much in demand, with PayScale data showing these professionals make nearly $90,000 per year on average. Like technologists who work with data and analytics, project managers must master a range of skills to succeed in their positions; if they’re working on a technical project, they’ll need to grasp the underlying technologies, including programming languages, frameworks, and the cloud.

If you’re just starting out your data or project-manager journey, and you’re unsure of what to put on your resume, emphasize your education and any personal projects that might have utilized your data and/or project-management skills. For example, if you built an app or game with some friends, and you used analytics to tweak the interface, that’s something you can call out in your application materials. For all graduates, applying for that first job can be intimidating, but you can still use things from your background to put yourself in the best possible position as a candidate.