Education and Training Requirements
In high school, take a college preparatory curriculum that includes classes in business management, economics, mathematics, data science, artificial intelligence, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and social studies. English and speech courses will come in handy because you’ll frequently be required to write reports and analyses and give oral presentations to coworkers (including managers and executives) and clients. Learning a foreign language increases both your ability to communicate with coworkers and clients who do not speak English and work in other countries.
Decision scientists have degrees in a wide range of areas, including business management, organizational psychology, sociology, economics, mathematics, statistics, data science, computer science, physics, and engineering. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in one of these disciplines or a related field is required to enter this profession.
Some colleges and universities offer degrees in decision science or in information and decision sciences. For example, the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers a bachelor of science in decision science. Courses in the program include Reason, Passion, and Cognition; Empirical Research Methods; Decision Analysis; and Behavioral Decision Making. Students also take elective courses that allow them to focus on one aspect of decision science, such as managerial and organizational concepts, philosophical and ethical perspectives, or public policy relevance. Visit http://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/undergraduate for more information.
A few colleges and universities offer certificate programs in decision sciences, while many offer classes. For example, the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, offers an undergraduate decision sciences certificate that features classes such as Fundamentals of Decision Science, Methods Foundations, and Integrated Modeling in the Decision Sciences. Enrolling in such a program will provide you with a general introduction to the field and may help you to gauge whether a career in decision science is a good fit for your interests and skill set. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.
Other Education or Training
Participating in continuing education (CE) classes and webinars is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn about new developments in decision science. These educational opportunities are provided by colleges and universities, as well as professional associations such as the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Decision Sciences Institute, and the Decision Analysis Society.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There is no certification or licensing available for decision scientists.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Previous experience in data science and/or an internship or co-op at a company that employs decision scientists will be useful.
Key traits for decision scientists include strong analytical and reasoning abilities, creativity, the ability to think “outside of the box” to solve problems, top-notch communication skills, the ability to work both independently and as a member of a team, and leadership ability. Decision scientists also need strong technical skills and experience working with large data-sets and computer modeling software.