Data science is becoming a big business. As organizations become more dependent on data, metrics, and numbers, they are starting to collect this information in new ways and with greater prevalence. The specialized process of making sense of such large amounts of data and using it to make well-informed business decisions has helped the demand for data scientists surge in recent years.
If you are interested in becoming a data scientist, then read on to find out the main responsibilities of a data scientist, salary information, and how to pursue this fascinating career path.
What data scientists do
Data scientists are reasonably new kids on the block, taking huge sets of data, which can be both sorted and unsorted, and analysing it for trends and meaning. Their role involves converting this data into comprehensive reports for organizations, which they can then utilize and implement within their strategy.
Data scientists draw upon different skills to perform this complex role. They need to use mathematics, information technology, statistics, industry knowledge, and socio-economic theory to make sense of complex information and influence leaders in developing meaningful business solutions.
The role of data scientists might look different across separate organizations and industries, but the following is a list of what the job generally involves:
- Develop systems and algorithms to efficiently export data and present it to stakeholders.
- Develop statistical techniques and use machine learning to develop solutions to problems
- Communicate data, results, and analytics clearly to facilitate people’s understanding of complex information.
- Create detailed, logical, and engaging reports that will bring data and findings to life.
- Work with areas that don’t effectively use data, developing ways to analyze information.
- Research different ways to collect data, determining which are best for your needs.
- Staying on top of data science trends and techniques
- Influence and negotiate with organizational leadership.
- Recruit, train, and motivate a team of junior scientists.
Steps to becoming a data scientist
So, if you have read through the above and have decided that data science is the industry for you, how do you get started? Becoming a data scientist takes a fair amount of preparation and upskilling, either through education or as part of retraining. This section takes you through what you might need, and how to become a data scientist.
Determine if it’s the right job for you
Data science is such a new field you might be wondering whether it is the right avenue for you to go down. When finding the right career, a good place to start is to see if there is alignment between the job and you as a person. Here are the main skills and qualities needed for success in data science:
- Logical and analytical mindset
- Critical thinking
- Business strategy skills
- Problem-solving skills.
- AI, coding, and machine learning knowledge
- Attention to detail
- Exceptional communication and storytelling skills
- Self-motivation skills
If these skills pique your interests, or are aligned with your personality, or existing work responsibilities, then you’re off to a good start. Data science draws upon specialized skills and an unusual mix of qualities, and if you are not sure you have the right combination, then don’t fear.
One good way to determine if this career is for you is to take time to research the data science profession. Connect with data scientists on LinkedIn or contact companies to learn more about the role. This is also a great way to show interest and build your professional network.
Focus on the right subjects at school
Like many careers, a foray into data science often begins at school by choosing the right subjects. The best subjects to start on would be computer science or information technology (IT), as well as mathematics, including any specialisms such as statistics.
Find any excuse to learn more about IT – for example, if your school offers coding workshops or classes on AI, then sign up for these too. Other subjects that might help would be English (to brush up on communication skills) and business studies.
Learn to code
You might not be able to learn coding at school and picking up this skill at any stage of your life can seem daunting. There are plenty of ways to learn how to code which are inexpensive and sometimes even free.
The first step is to focus on the right programming language as this will align with what you can do and meet the needs of future employers. Websites with highly structured databases will require knowledge of Java or Python, so these are two good places to start. Next, research online courses to get an introduction to coding. If you gel with coding, consider taking professional courses and certifications too so you can enhance your credentials and CV.