"A data scientist sits at a desk examining data on a computer screen."
"A data scientist sits at a desk examining data on a computer screen."

In 2022, data science ranked in the top five most in-demand and highest paying jobs in Australia[1]. Its annual average growth rate is predicted to be 2.4 per cent, according to Deloitte[2], a whole percentage point higher than the average job rate growth. The average base salary for data science professionals is also extremely generous, at around $112,000, according to Indeed[3].

Data science is skyrocketing in demand and opportunities abound. Here’s an overview of how far the field has come and the exciting path it will take in the future.

History of data science

To understand the future of data science, you first need to understand its history – and if you’re thinking data science is a relatively new invention, think again. Data science has its roots in the field of data analysis, which academic John Tukey first introduced in 1985.

By 1998, some academics were calling for data science to become its own discipline. New terms also emerged that described how data was being treated. The now well-known phrase ‘data-mining’ began to be used at this time.

By 2002, data science had officially become a discipline, with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology officially launching the Data Science Journal. Around 2008, data science moved from mostly an academic pursuit to a mainstream profession, with jobs for data scientists starting to appear and growing exponentially ever since.

Job market overview

Nearly a decade after the Harvard Business Review famously claimed that data scientist was the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’, the field continues to offer enticing opportunities[4]. According to James Milligan, global head of technology at the international recruitment company Hays:

“Data is the new corporate currency, as advancing digitisation sweeps every horizontal and vertical market the world over. The impact on the data science sector is far-reaching and, as a result, a range of new roles and skill sets are in demand.”

Data science was also one of the top 15 emerging jobs of 2020, according to a report by world’s leading networking site, LinkedIn[5]. The popularity of this skill set is easy to see when it comes to the sheer number of available jobs in the field. On just one job board, Seek.com.au, nearly 5,000 data science-related roles are on offer as of March 2022[6]. There are also numerous graduate roles (jobs for students who’ve just graduated from university and have no formal experience), which typically indicates a healthy industry in growth mode.

Career overview and trends

A data science career can take numerous trajectories, from becoming a data specialist, to specialising in products or engineering.

The following discussion of industry trends can help you on your data science career path.

Trend 1: Specialising

Specialising can make a data scientist even more indispensable in the workplace. Specialisations can be in a particular industry, like financial services or manufacturing, or in a particular data skill set. Data analysis, architecture, visualisation and database management are all core specialties in demand across a growing number of sectors.

Trend 2: Bringing BI skills to the table

Data science is often seen as the big brother to business intelligence (BI). But that doesn’t mean leaving your BI skills behind – they can make the difference in landing the data scientist role you really want.

A soft skill like communication is critical to explain insights to others who don’t have your understanding of data. Without clear visualisation and identification of trends and opportunities, key insights you obtained via data analytics may not be understood by your target audience.

Trend 3: Mixing hands-on learning with formal qualifications

In a fast-moving sector, data scientists are upskilling. To progress from an experienced professional to an in-demand expert, you need to stay up-to-date on the big picture.

Studying a postgraduate degree in data science will give you a broad skillset and demonstrate your expertise to potential employers. As you continue your career, make sure you keep up with various programming languages and tools. Smart data scientists keep learning and know that learning a single technology or platform isn’t enough to build a career – you need to be skilled across multiple and emerging modelling programs, database technologies and data management.

Future industry trends

Given that global data storage is set to grow from 45 zettabytes to 175 zettabytes in 2025[7], companies will need more data scientists with the expertise to handle the sheer volume and complexity of the data they work with.

Here are three influential industry trends:

Trend 1: Python use will grow

Data scientists need to wrangle many coding languages, but one will likely become more popular than all others: Python.

Python was already the most popular search language in the world by March 2020[8], and its popularity is set to keep growing due to the plethora of free data science libraries available. Python can also be used to develop a range of blockchain applications and it’s fairly beginner friendly.

Trend 2: End-to-end AI solutions will grow in popularity

Increasingly, companies prefer artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that offer multiple services to clients, essentially one-stop shops. For that reason, end-to-end AI solutions will likely continue to surge in popularity. AI startups help customers clean large data sets and build data learning models, as well as automate other data management tasks.

Because this technology and the startups that fuel it are becoming so popular, ample opportunities will likely open up for data scientists in these companies.

Trend 3: More opportunities in data analytics are opening up

The data science profession’s future is bright. One area in particular may experience stratospheric growth: data analysis. Data analytics experts will likely be in high demand for companies that need professionals to tackle huge data sets and lead digital transformations.

Data science: still a sexy job

It’s been a decade since Harvard Business Review proclaimed data science the sexiest job of the 21st century. Since then, the field is still growing strong, and it looks to offer even more opportunities than ever.

To begin your future in data science, a Master of Data Science can empower you with the expertise you need. Gain in-demand skills, industry-recognised knowledge and succeed in a data-driven world with JCU Online.


[1] SimpliLearn: The Most In-Demand and Highest Paying Jobs in Australia 2022

[2] Deloitte: The Future of Work: Occupational and education trends in data science in Australia

[3] Indeed: Data Scientist Salad in Australia

[4] LinkedIn: Is Data Scientist still the sexiest job of the 21st Century?

[5] LinkedIn: 2020 Emerging Jobs Report Australia

[6] Seek: Data Science Jobs Australia

[7] Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life-Critical

[8] Future Learn: Python Insights: Job and market growth stats

Data Science

Find out more about JCU’s online Master of Data Science.

Get in touch with our Enrolment team on 1300 535 919

Related study options

Ready to get started?

Download a course guide

For more detailed and up-to-date information about your degree, including:

  • Information about the course
  • Course duration
  • Fees
  • Course descriptions
  • What to expect from the course
Download course guide

Speak with an Enrolment Advisor

Investing in the right course for you is important to us and we’re here to help. Simply request a call back and will assist you with:

  • Entry requirements
  • Choosing right course
  • How to apply and enrol
  • How online study works
  • Course duration and fees
Enquire Now