Sep 21, 2017

How to become a Data Scientist


The explosive growth of data collected by businesses and government agencies has fueled the need for professionals who can analyze and interpret the data. The rise of the internet, coupled with major improvements in the collection and storage of customer information is driving this demand. Businesses and governments now recognize that they can make so much more well-informed decisions if this vast amount of data was more deeply analyzed through the use of data science. So huge is the demand for data scientists that a 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review described the role as the sexiest job of the 21st century. Since then, the demand for data scientists has continued to grow, outpacing most other professions. 


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What does a data scientist do?

Data Scientists are responsible for collecting, managing, analyzing and interpreting data, in order to support better decision making by their employers. Data scientists often work with enormous volumes of data on customers, drawing from various sources. They utilize powerful computing programs and technologies to sift through the massive amounts of data in order to make connections, draw out trends, and deliver insightful solutions to the complex problems that their clients are facing. Through their work, data scientists often uncover new opportunities, for example, new potential clients that a company can target or new ways that a government department might consider addressing a social problem. 

On a day-to-day basis, data scientists often work as part of teams, alongside other professionals, including software engineers, programmers and marketing analysts. The working environment tends to be fast paced.

Typical tasks include include collecting and refining data from multiple high-volume data sources, utilizing large-scale data mining and machine learning techniques, performing rigorous analysis and evaluations, developing algorithms, modeling hypothetical client experiences to mirror real life situations and testing potential outcomes, querying information databases (e.g. SQL), developing presentations, writing reports, and communicating findings to stakeholders.

What kind of training does a Data Scientist need?

For anyone considering whether and how to become a data scientist, the most basic skill is being adept at programming or coding. Familiarity with data visualization tools and programming languages such as Python, R, C++, Clojure, Matlab and Java provides a huge advantage.  The majority of data scientists tend to have bachelor, masters or PhD degrees in engineering, econometrics, math, statistics, operations research, computer science, and software engineering.

Most top colleges will look for strong prior academic achievement at high school or elsewhere (advanced coursework, good grades, and acceptable test scores). Strong high school grades in math, algebra, calculus and science are usually a plus.  However, given the team-based nature of the work and the requirement to be able to communicate one’s findings effectively, it also helps to be an all-rounder. Data scientists tend to be intensely curious and persistent. The job often literally involves finding the proverbial needle in a haystack as data scientists seek to make sense out of unstructured information. One needs to be able to systematically and patiently work through massive amounts of data and extract patterns and relationships.

What are the prospects for a career as a Data Scientist?

The demand for data scientists is expected to remain very strong, driven by the growing need for harnessing the increasingly large amounts of data being collected. The rise of the internet and social media has further driven up the amount of consumer information available to be analyzed, thus creating even greater opportunities for businesses to learn more about customer behavior and preferences.

According to one report by McKinsey, 1.5 million managers and analysts will be needed to fill jobs in data science by 2018 along with 140,000 people with deep analytic skills. Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 15,000% increase in job postings for data scientists (source: FICO) and the value of the big data industry is expected to reach $53.4 billion by 2016 (source: Domo).

Typical job titles for data scientists include Junior Data Scientist, Data Scientist, and Quantitative Researcher.

How much do Data Scientists Make? 

According to, the national average salary for a data scientist was $118,709 in 2015. Salaries range from $76,000 to $148,000 or more for senior data scientists.

Becoming a Data scientist requires skills and training. Start today.

Are you serious about becoming a Data Scientist? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

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