What Is a Data Scientist?
Data scientists are the world’s data wranglers. Using multidisciplinary skills in computer programming, statistics and math, data scientists sort through vast amounts of raw data to extract insights that can be used to develop new products, increase customer satisfaction and forecast important trends.
Data science isn’t just for big business either. Organizations all over the world are applying data science to solve problems spanning everything from social issues to water shortages to disease prediction. The opportunities are virtually endless.
“Data scientist” is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of job titles and responsibilities. Each organization may have a different and unique reason for hiring a data scientist, offering positions such as customer-facing data scientist, remote data scientist or software engineer.
A data scientist’s job differs from a data engineer or architect in that their research may contribute directly to a company’s business model, growth and revenue. That said, a data scientist’s responsibilities may overlap with other roles depending on a company’s needs and objectives.
Data Science Education
The path to becoming a data scientist typically involves obtaining a doctoral or professional degree such as a master’s degree in data science. Prospective students can also consider different options for obtaining the required education and credentials. These may include obtaining a master’s degree, certification or badge from:
· A traditional source such as a college or university.
· Online programs that allow students to learn at their own pace.
· Boot camps and intensive short-term courses.
Helpful Skills and Personality Traits
Data scientists must bridge the worlds of technology and commerce with a combination of programming, analytical and business skills. As a starting point, candidates should have a background in a statistical programming language such as R, Python, SAS, MATLAB or Hive and have a grasp of analytical techniques such as machine learning and text analytics.
Like all scientists, the best data scientists are naturally curious people who enjoy learning and are expert problem-solvers. They are people who are genuinely excited about data and enjoy discovering patterns that tell a story about what’s going on underneath the seemingly disparate data points.
Career Prospects for Data Scientists
The current job outlook for data scientists is bright as employment for information research scientists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2024 – faster than the average for all occupations.
At the same time, McKinsey Global Institute predicts there could be a “shortfall of some 250,000 data scientists” by the year 2024 if job growth continues to outstrip supply. Since skilled IT talent is in short supply, the job prospects for data scientists should remain stronger than average for the foreseeable future.
According to recent figures from data scientists can expect to make an average of $113,000 per year, with salaries ranging anywhere from a minimum of $76,000 up to $146,000 or more. Salaries tend to vary by company, geographical location, job position and the level of experience required.
As organizations seek to leverage the gold mine of data pouring in from the web and beyond, data scientists can look forward to a plethora of exciting job opportunities in the years ahead.
If you’re looking to explore the possibilities of a career in data science, learn more about recommended degree and certificate programs.
Note: Salary information collected in April 2017.