Why Becoming A Data Scientist Is NOT Actually Easier Than You Think
Written By Sajid A. Khan
Published Date July 18, 2019
Data scientists are experts in solving complex problems through the collection, analysis, and interpretation of large quantities of data. They make use of their IT and trend spotting skills to help businesses improve their operations and gain an edge over competitors.
In todays marketplace, there is a massive amount of structured and unstructured data to be tapped into. Referred to as big data, it can help provide insights that can better guide business strategy. It takes a skilled data scientist to figure out what data matters, and can be utilized to grow a business and make it more profitable.
War is 90% information. Napoleon Bonaparte
Many data scientists started professionally as statisticians. Their ability to run and interpret voluminous amounts of data has always been useful. This skill has however now evolved into being able to creatively develop ideas that can benefit a business. Soft skills that help build on relevant mathematical and IT skills include:
Intellectual curiosity: the ability to form a cohesive and coherent idea from a jumble of massive data takes a good deal of reasoning and puzzle-solving. Having an insatiable appetite that questions even the most inane allows data scientists to dig deeper and go in unexpected directions to yield results.
Creativity: from project design to writing code, a lot of original thought goes into data science. It also takes a strong imagination to be able to effectively communicate complex ideas in simple terms that even laymen will understand. Problem-solving is achieved by applying creative thought processes to discover answers. Being able to find a path to the solution even where limitations are set are the hallmarks of a great data scientist.
Persistence and self-motivation: data science is a very challenging field where it can be difficult to arrive at the right path to the correct solution. More often than not, you will end up failing and having to make repeated attempts to get desired results. This requires a good deal of patience, persistence, and the ability to self -motivate even when it seems there is no solution in sight.
At a technical level, statistical expertise is needed to be able to process data. A good data scientist knows how to apply algorithms on varied sets of data to produce the most accurate projections and recommendations. Versatility in learning and writing code, keeping up with market trends and working well with others also helps keep you on your toes. Strong communication skills are also important for working well as a team player and in dealing with other departments and clients. Being technically inclined, you should be able to communicate effectively even with those that are not.
In summary, here are some of the major roles a data scientist plays in an organization:
- Assemble massive amounts of data and translate into coherent ideas
- Create business solutions derived from data analysis
- Predict trending patterns that will guide business strategy
- Communicate and coordinate with other members of the organization
- Get to grips with programming coding languages, such as SAS, R, Python, Scala, Julia, and SQL database
- Keep up with technologies used for statistical analysis and testing, data visualization and reporting
Many of these technical skills can be learned through pursuing a formal data science degree on campuses such as Oklahoma State University to Texas A&M. If you are however transitioning from a less technical field, like finance, there are plenty of online courses that you can consider in starting to develop skills. Platforms such as Coursera and edX do facilitate courses from institutions like Harvard and MIT. Some top data science boot camps worth a try include NYC Data Science Academy, Springboard, Metis, and Ubiqum Code Academy.
Becoming a good data scientist is a somewhat complex journey that calls for plenty of personal initiative and determination. However, having been ranked the best job in the U.S. for the 4th year in a row by Glassdoor, and the most promising job in America for 2019 by LinkedIn, this career choice more than makes up for any efforts expended.