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Do Data Scientists Work in Government?

Data scientists leverage their understanding of mathematics, statistics and applied computer science to guide decision-makers in private companies as well as government institutions. In fact, there are numerous positions and career paths available to data science experts who want to work with federal, state or local authorities. While some of these roles only demand an understanding of the basic principles and technology of the profession, there are also many jobs that involve applying data science to a specific field.


Mathematics and Computer Science Roles

Almost every major local and federal government agency gathers data and uses it to guide its decisions, initiatives, and policies. There is demand for both entry level and experienced professionals in city, county, state and national institutions. Data scientists with technical proficiency in computer science, statistical analysis and mathematics can find numerous opportunities at all levels of government. People filling these roles typically work to support a larger program or department alongside other data specialists and a diverse team of professionals.

Health and Social Science Analytics

Data scientists with experience or interest in public health policy and health informatics can also find plenty of opportunities to explore their specialization. As one of the most data-driven fields, healthcare has been a leading industry in its adoption of applied data science. This is particularly true for government agencies responsible for public health, as they gather and utilize vast amounts of data to create policies and programs that have a direct impact on public health. Predictive modeling is also a valuable skill for emergency management departments tasked with preventing and planning for disease outbreaks.

Management and Administrative Positions

Since data science is a relatively new and niche profession, an opportunity for advancement in government carers may require relocation. There is typically more room for growth and promotion in larger federal institutions compared to city or state government agencies. However, professionals who want to expand their career can often find opportunities to continue their career as a government employee. The skills and experienced gained in a government job can also be invaluable when working as a consultant or in private industry in the future.

Preparing for a Government Career

Many data scientists enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree, which is acceptable for applying to many government positions. However, an advanced degree is required for some jobs and can give applicants for any position a big advantage in the hiring process. Some institutions also require a minimum grade point average (GPA) as well as demonstrated soft skills, like leadership and ability to work as part of a team, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Students interested in a government career should explore related internship opportunities to figure out if it’s the right path for them.

Data scientists are experts in a cutting-edge and evolving field that has already made a tangible impact on virtually every major industry. As the tools to collect and store data improve, companies and government institutions alike are grappling with how to make use of this new resource. Data scientists are needed for both government and private work, so qualified professionals are likely to enjoy a wide selection of job opportunities in the years ahead.