Main image of article Data Science, Python Top Popular Specializations, Certificates

What kinds of technology-related courses did students pursue this year? Based on new data from Coursera, it’s clear that data science, Python, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) are on the minds of the next generation of technologists.

Coursera, a massive online learning platform, has provided a breakdown of its most popular courses in 2019. “AI and related tech-centric content attracted interest like never before,” read the blog posting accompanying Coursera’s data. “2019 is the year AI became accessible to the masses, rather than just for engineers.”

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular specializations and professional certificates that Coursera taught in 2019:

What can we discern from this list? First, it just re-emphasizes how important Python has become; while always a popular “general” programming language, it’s lately established a strong presencein highly specialized industries such as data science, machine learning, and finance. If you’re new to programming, and debating which languages to learn in 2020, you could do a lot worse than Python.

Next, this list makes very clear that data science is a hot topic among students. That seems logical: companies are awakening to the need for data scientists who can organize and analyze huge datasetsfor strategically valuable insight. And although it’s a growth industry, data science is one of those highly specialized fields that requires a lot of education (not to mention familiarity with a growing array of tools); you can’t just jump in. Hence the hunger for Python certifications

One additional point for students considering a data science career: it’s potentially quite lucrative. Data scientists with 3-6 years of experience can make an average salary of $108,000, according to a recent Dice breakdown. Those with slightly more experience (5-8 years) who ascend to the director level can pull down an average salary of $169,000—and that’s before we talk stock options, cash bonuses, and other perks. Check out this chart:

Python and data science tie into machine learning, which also enjoys a sizable presence on this list. According to a recent survey by SlashData, developers know that they need to adopt machine-learning skills in order to stay current with the industry; and they’re obviously more than happy to head back to school to learn more, as well as land any certifications that they need.

As we head into 2020, it’s clear that technologists will need all the education they can get in order to move their careers forward. Although the tech industry’s unemployment rate is currently low, employers are still willing to hold out for job candidates who actually have the necessary mix of skills and experience. If you want to land the really lucrative jobs—or keep expanding in your current role—you’ll need to stay aware of data science, machine learning, and other “hot” disciplines.