What they do all day? Tech firms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are at the heart of the big data movement. Their users are generating loads of information by the second. Turning those heaps of data into business value falls to data scientists, who apply various tools and methods to find meaningful patterns and insights in large data sets.
How to get the job?An affinity for numbers is key, as well as a command of computing, statistics, math and analytics. One can't underestimate the importance of soft skills either. Data scientists work closely with management and need to express themselves clearly.
What makes it great? This is a cutting-edge field. The information explosion is spurring types of analysis that have never been performed before. The skill set is unique, and employers are willing to pay for qualified candidates. Six-figure paydays aren't uncommon.
What's the catch? It's an intense job. After 20 years of crunching info, it's easy to become susceptible to burnout, says Vincent Granville, a data scientist who left a corporate job to launch Analyticbridge, a social network for data science professionals.
Source: PayScale.com, CNNMoney research Note: Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least five to seven years in field). Job growth is estimated for 2010-20, and based on people working in broader 'job family' from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For detailed methodology, see How We Picked the Best Jobs.
By Grace Wong, contributor @CNNMoney - Last updated November 05 2012 04:45 PM ET