Data scientists are the next generation of analytical experts, having evolved from statisticians and data analysts in response to the growth of big data storage, IoT devices, cloud computing, and improved algorithms. It’s a marriage, consisting of the IT and business realms.
Early in my career, I became a Six Sigma Black Belt and learned early the importance that data could have on helping solve some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). By becoming a Black Belt, you are required to understand a multitude of statistical tools that enable you to decipher anecdotal from impartial. However, at the time, terms like “Big Data” and “Internet of Things” had not yet entered the lexicon, and as a result, predictive algorithms had not yet reached the level of accuracy we are witnessing today.
What is a Data Scientist?
A data scientist must possess in-depth knowledge in the fields of science, mathematics, and coding. A data scientist is known to possess analytical skills, an insatiable curiosity, and a toolkit that allows them to interpret vast amounts of data to help test hypotheses that can improve a business’ bottom line. Think of them as a scientist without the lab coat, but with a t-shirt and sneakers.
Scientist – Lab Coat + T-Shirt + Sneakers = Data Scientist
Of course, that is a broad generalization of the individual and overview of the hard skills required for the profession. But not entirely wrong.
A data scientist assists a company’s operations to help them gain a formidable edge over the competition. Analyzing digital data streams in a company’s website, improving upon existing data collection procedures and creating systems to track anomalies are all examples of the duties of a data scientist.
Why Being a Data Scientist is So Cool
There is a huge demand for Data Scientists these days. In fact, demand has surpassed supply putting the median base pay for a mid-level data scientist at $128,000. Not only are Data Scientist well compensated, Glassdoor recently named it the Top Job for 2019 in America, with job satisfaction scores of 4.3 out of 5.
A Challenging Profession
Although the skills necessary to succeed in the role are lengthy, attaining a thorough understanding of the job is not an insurmountable feat. In my experience, a good data scientist not only needs to comprehend the methods to mine data, wrangle data, visual data, and model data but also possesses the communication skills necessary to work with their business partners to deploy models that will have the largest impact on the organization.
Is Data Science for You?
The skills mentioned above may seem daunting; however, it’s more of a matter of learning the skills as opposed to being born with them. If you are always analyzing situations and calculating the odds in a game of chance, this might be a great career for you.
However, I will caution anyone that is considering this career path; it requires continual self-learning. Data Science is a new discipline, and there are often multiple ways to solve the same problem. The tools, resources, algorithms, and programming languages are in constant flux. And although there are countless educational paths available for people interested in learning these skills – there is no governing body or one formal path to certify your education.
And as I mentioned above, a fully underestimated skill for any successful Data Scientist is communication. The ability to work with multiple functional areas of a business and tell a story with data can be a differentiator for you.
If you’re committed to lifelong learning, and you find joy in the process of developing your skills, the challenges and opportunities faced in this field could be right up your alley.
Have you considered a career as a Data Scientist?
If so, what is preventing you from taking the plunge?