How to Start a Career in Data Science

There’s no single way to start a career in data science, which is one of the things I love most about the industry. There’s space for people who graduated university with data degrees, who are self-taught or who have retrained through courses offered by companies like The Data Lab and CodeClan.

At Starting a Career in Data Science – Advice for Industry Experts, I chaired a discussion between data scientists from Mallzee and Endjin, who had retrained recently and entered the data science industry.

Delphine Rabiller (data scientist, Mallzee) and Barry Smart (consultant, Endjin), both came to data science after careers in biotechnology and software development and both have had early success in their new careers. We had a lively discussion about how to enter the industry but one of the things we agreed on most is that there’ no single right way to do it. Everyone has their own unique story and journey.

Different Career Paths

Delphine and Barry had different journeys into data science.

Delphine worked in the Biotechnology sector for 10 years. She started her career as an R&D scientist and then lab manager but always had a passion for data. She took CodeClan’s Data Analytics course and learned to hone her data skills and add more to her repertoire. She’s now a data scientist at Mallzee Insights and is passionate about encouraging women into STEM and data careers.

Barry came to data science with more than 25 years’ experience in the tech industry. He’s been a software developer, solutions architect, transformation manager and IT Director. In 2020, Barry’s passion for emerging technology and data led him to gain an MSc in AI from Strathclyde University. He now works for a consultancy that uses data and analytics to make better decisions and empower organisations.

Organisations that can Help You on Your Journey

Whether you have an established career in another industry or are just starting out, there are some amazing organisations in Scotland that can help you get started in data science.

I’ve collaborated with a number of them and they’re all doing amazing work, including The Data Lab, CodeClan, Equate Scotland and the The DataKirk who are all promoting data literacy and encouraging people and organisations to become more data savvy. These are just some examples but the pathway into data science is endless.

Advice for Starting Your Career

So, how do you get started?

Social media and your network – no matter how big – will be invaluable to you when you’re starting out. Often people that are retaining already have a great network of people to take advantage of, but they can be nervous to tap into that network. Don’t be.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the best places for data scientists to talk with, network and get involved with groups and other people from the industry. If you can, attend industry events (online or in person) and follow companies that you’re interested in or that post useful content about the data science industry.

There are opportunities out there for you if you're looking in the right places. Optimising data is beneficial for everyone and more and more jobs are reliant on people having these sought after, but in short supply, data skills.

Watch the Panel Discussion

The Data industry in Scotland is a warm, welcoming place - everyone knows everyone! If you are looking to get started in the industry - watch our video and take away some of our top hints and tips.


Author Bio


Bethany (not Beth, it’s never Beth) is Project Manager. Most well known for her work with MBN Academy and The Data Lab, Bethany has led workshops on diversity and inclusion, employability and upskilling across the country. She has a cat and pretty much everyone worth knowing likes cats.