The results are in: Data science is #1

It’s been five years since Forbes magazine declared that the world's hottest commodity is now data, the first time a commodity has surpassed oil in many, many years.  This comes as no surprise to anyone following what’s going on in the world with the battle over data and keeping data safe, which includes the use of secure and safe storing methods, and the sometimes controversial selling of our data for advertising and other business needs. In our connected world, people are now producing over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each and every day. We are such a connected society, and there are so many data points from our cell phones, apps, TVs even refrigerators. We need people in the world who can be trained to deal with massive amounts of data to make the most accurate decisions they can using that data.

I think it’s safe to surmise that this is also why we’ve seen data scientist listed as the top “job to have” in 2021. The Career Cast survey is published each year, based on factors like salary, job satisfaction and job mobility. A career in the data science field would hit on all of these points. We need technically trained problem solvers and data miners. The world we live in now is so dependent on data that we need people in this profession to help guide decisions not only in the business world but also in the education, health, government and finance sectors as well. The need for people in this profession isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, by the year 2026, it is predicted (…likely by data scientists), that the world will need 11.5 million data scientists.

This makes a lot of sense to me, says Riley Metzgher, professor and advisor to our data science students. He tells us “we don’t see interest in this major slowing down at all. In fact, it’s one of the most popular majors from Math and CS students we’re seeing at the moment.” I’m sure this is among one of the many reasons the Faculty created the Data Science major, a joint program between the David R Cheriton School of Computer Science and our department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences. “It is a unique program where undergraduate students in the Data Science major get to dabble in both fields and take a wider array of courses,” says Metzgher.

Students see the demand in the real world to have trained data miners. “It definitely is one of our more sought-after majors to apply to,” says Metzgher. And I think that is because we are teaching students how to analyze large sets of data in order to predict and improve business strategy, products and services, marketing campaigns, public health and safety, etcetera. It’s applicable in almost any career field, and, really, I think that is the attraction.”

Our students agree. In asking some of our undergraduate students why they chose this major, a student named Simon tells me that he chose to major in data science because “I’m interested in, and excel in, both statistics and computer science. I know I want my future to involve using computers to analyze data.”

Diana, a fourth-year student, says  “I want to pursue a career in data science because it's a wide field with lots of room for growth and learning. All the professors at Waterloo are extremely passionate and invested in their domains, making the learning very dynamic and engaging. I know I will be set up for success!”

Have a friend, family member or neighbour who might want to consider data science? Feel free to connect them with the recruitment and admissions team by emailing Or, better yet, we’ve got a session coming up in early December that will explain and compare all our entry programs and majors. Feel free to register!  

Have a student in high school thinking about university? Register for our virtual Grade 10 Family Night to learn about things you should consider when applying to university.