A Few Data Science Job Definitions


According to Udacity, an online tech education service I’m glad I used, there are at least three different job titles used to refer to Data Science professionals. Among these are Business Analyst, Data Analyst, and Data Scientist. Udacity offers specific training for the first two of these three, and if recent user surveys are any indication, they may soon offer curriculum to train Data Scientists as well.

The following table is summarized from Udacity syllabi and an extensive “Guide” also discussed at the bottom of this post.

Title Job Scope Activities
Business Analysts Visualize and present data Create dashboards, analyze data, and build predictive models
Data Analysts Use existing tools Acquire, process, summarize, then analyze data
Data Scientists Invent new algorithms Perform undirected research and tackle open-ended questions

Other differentiating factors between these job titles include the amount of education job holders usually have, the disciplines of that education, and the on-the-job focus of the role. Whereas business Analysts usually have a business-focused undergraduate degree, Data Analysts often come from STEM majors. Data Analysts generally have at least an undergraduate degree and sometimes an advanced degree. In particular, 25% of employers prefer or require data analyst job candidates have a graduate degree. Advanced degrees in the hard sciences are common for Data Scientists.

With regard to the focus of these roles, Business Analysts tend to be concerned the corporate world and problem definitions. Data Analysts are more numbers- and database-oriented. Data Scientists combine even more rigorous technical knowledge with the business-savvy that allows them to relay their findings in nontechnical ways to business executives.

This post only scratches the surface of a complex topic, and as with all things Data Science, these definitions and titles are in flux and should be expected to change.


Udacity’s document “The Complete Guide to Landing a Career in Data” was the inspiration of and a primary source for this post. It is available here, in exchange for your email address.