According to the Harvard Business Review, Data Scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st Century. Dry sounding as they are, competent data scientists are much sought-after, particularly as ingenuity, curiosity and creativity are attributes any successful data manager will need. In order to make the most of big data, companies first need to understand what they require from a data scientist, and then begins the difficult task of scouting the talent.
The New York Times reported that according to technology research firm Gartner, the hype around big data is waning, and yet data scientist salaries continue to rise. Today, commercial companies are making use of data scientists and offering fulfilling jobs with real-world gains. Considering the vast amount of data collected, resourceful data scientists can create a wealth of useful information from otherwise arbitrary facts and figures. Suddenly all those forms you’ve filled in over the years might have companies structuring their products and services to your needs.
Currently, many institutions offer courses and degrees geared towards Data Science, with Master’s in Data Science (See List) suggesting 23 potential programs in the US alone. Different programs target different skill sets, and students will have to select their focus from a vast list of available options including marketing, business management, technology and communication, to name but a few. Master’s in Data Science also indicates that top companies require their data scientists to have advanced degrees in a quantitative field, though many data scientists have only bachelor’s degrees. Ideal data scientists will be technically skilled in a specific field, but also have excellent interpersonal skills, and a broad knowledge of the Data mining and handling processes. Skills in mathematics, statistics and programing are essential, as well as creativity, curiosity and ethics. There is no university yet able to teach many of the skills that the best data scientists have, and much of what makes a data scientist so valuable is their vast experience and exploration of a field.
While certainly no mean feat, a qualified and experienced data scientist could have a fulfilling career in almost any industry, with a plethora of fields open to him, and the simple fact of creating knowledge and pertinent information from big data only serves to expand his role. In the coming years, those who choose to focus on this field and hone these skills are likely to have a lot to offer the world. Perhaps one day soon, companies will be able to offer us that which we most need, rather than sell us more things that entertain us for moments and then leave us wanting. The inspired data scientist who can take the wealth of arbitrary data expelled daily and create meaningful solutions will be unstoppable.
Attached is an older but still very relevant infographic by EMC outlining the area of Data Scientist Study.
By Jennifer Klostermann