“If you look at the statistics, data science is one of the best fields to get into because the demand is high and the supply is low,” says Kevin Wu, co-founder and CEO of Pathrise. But, it is not that easy to just break into this industry. Most people can find roles in data science and analytics if they have a Bachelor’s, but some are reserved only for people with Master’s degrees or PhDs.
According to LinkedIn, there has been a 650% increase in data science jobs since 2012 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs in this field will increase by 28%, resulting in 11.5 million more data science openings. So, what do data scientists do and what does one need to learn to become a data scientist?
Data scientists use data to make or suggest informed decisions for a company, client, or stakeholder. To do this, they often work with data analysts and engineers to collect, process (clean), and create data sets. Then, they can begin to analyze the information by looking at a variety of variables. Next, they use machine learning, statistical models, and algorithms to create predictive models to help solve the initial problem. Finally, data scientists must communicate their results by engaging in data storytelling. In addition to providing information via spreadsheets, data scientists create visualizations to help their team members understand the results. Their results need to be easily understood by people across all teams, including sales and marketing, who might not have a strong technical background.
As of right now, there is a fair amount of background information needed before a candidate can successfully get a job as a data scientist. Aspiring data scientists should have knowledge about commonly used programming languages like Python, R, and Java as well as advanced skills in math and statistics, including multivariable calculus and linear algebra. Data scientists who have a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD often study fields such as data science, statistics, economics, math, computer science, and management information systems.
However, some data scientists come from other fields, including cognitive science, anthropology, life sciences, and physics. Students who are looking to strengthen their data science and math skills can consider enrolling in a data science bootcamp to brush up on the basics, learn in-demand data science skills, and land an entry level data science job. Some people choose to break into the data field by going for data analyst or business analyst positions as they often require less experience and can act as stepping stones towards landing a full data scientist role in the future.
It is interesting to note that data scientist roles stay open for 5 days more than the average time for most other positions. This occurs because the supply is so low for these jobs, which means recruiters need more time to find the right candidates. People with a strong affinity for math, interest in programming, and a strong analytical background should consider getting into the rapidly growing field of data science.