Those who do seek jobs in data science will find a host of options; big data is currently 1/10 of the technology job market, and it’s expected to grow to 1/3 of the technology job market in coming years. For the last five years, jobs site Glassdoor has ranked data scientist in the top three jobs. That means that someone who is looking to determine where to put their college degree to use could find lucrative job prospects in the data science field, and job seekers don’t necessarily need degrees in data science to become data scientists.
What does a data scientist do?
Every organization generates data. That data can tell an organization about current trends, product demands, customer behavior, operational inefficiencies and much, much more. It can even be used to make predictions that can aid organizational leadership in decision making. But without someone to gather, organize, analyze and store that data, it goes to waste. That’s the job of a data scientist: Pulling together and organizing data in a meaningful way so that it can be used to make predictions, inform decision makers and lead to better outcomes.
To make that happen, data scientists:
- Capture and extract data from available sources
- Process the data through data mining, classification, modeling and summarization
- Analyze the data to confirm or explore trends and make predictions
- Communicate the data and data analysis to others within the organization
- Maintain important data in an organized and accessible way
Which fields utilize data science?
Data has never been more accessible, and advances in computing and data storage have advanced so much in recent years that nearly every industry is taking advantage of data science. The financial industry uses data science to analyze risk, identify fraudulent behavior and enhance customer experiences. Marketers use data science to determine who they should be messaging to and how messages are being received. In health care, it’s used to track and predict health risks and increase diagnosis times, and in manufacturing and logistics, big data can identify equipment or load needs and identify potential system failures. Because big data has so many applications – mitigating risk, identifying relevant products, recruiting and team building, personalizing and improving customer experience and predicting demand – organizations in nearly every industry, from agriculture to travel, are putting data science to use.
Which degrees are well-suited to data science careers?
While there are data science degree programs, many data scientists have degrees in other areas. Those who hold degrees in fields that widely use data science – such as finance, agriculture, logistics, healthcare and the social sciences – can combine their domain knowledge with data science skills to find a job as a data scientist within their field. Some degree holders will find that their backgrounds naturally translate to a job in data science. Some degrees that provide some of the knowledge needed for a data science career include:
- Economics, accounting and business – These degrees often include coursework in statistics and mathematics that are needed for data science. Additionally, those with degrees in economics, accounting, business or related fields would be familiar with the business skills necessary for real-world application of data science as business data analysts.
- Engineering – Engineering degrees often have the type of deep analysis and mathematical skills that can be put to use in data science.
- Math, actuarial, or physics – The rigors of a math, actuarial, or physics degree provide complex math skills that can be used in data science. Data science can provide a practical application for the math, problem-solving and analytical skills gained through these degrees.
- Marketing – Marketing degrees often include coursework in data and analytics; when that’s combined with data science skills, degree holders can find jobs as marketing analysts and set themselves on the path for a job as a marketing executive.
What additional skills do I need for a job in data science?
Getting a job in data science doesn’t usually require any sort of certification, just training in a certain skill set. The skills needed for a job in data science include:
- Python or R programming
- SQL Queries
- Data cleaning
- Data visualization
- Probability and statistics
Additionally, data scientists must have the ability to communicate complex data to people who do not have training in statistics or data analytics because they are often working as a part of an organizational team. For those whose degrees do not include training in these skills, these skills can be easily learned through data science training programs or classes.
How can you launch a career in data science?
If you think that a career in data science might be right for you, there are a few steps you can take to get started. Evaluate your existing skill set to determine what skills you have and what additional training you may need. Look for data science jobs at the types of companies or organizations you hope to work with; this will give you a feel for the types of jobs that might be available to you and the degree, experience and skills requirements that those jobs have. Finally, get the training you need to launch your career in data science.
Once you have the skill set you need to complement your existing degree, you will be ready to launch your career in data science. And based on the projections, you should find a flourishing job market to match your talent and expertise.
About the Author
Jennifer Nesbitt is a New York-based freelance copywriter. A former journalist and graduate of Penn State University, Jennifer now writes about a variety of topics, including business, technology and marketing.