Data scientists are inquisitive: exploring, asking questions, doing “what if” analysis, questioning existing assumptions and processes. Armed with data and analytical results, a top-tier data scientist will then communicate informed conclusions and recommendations across an organization’s leadership structure.
Data Scientist Roles
Data science careers represents an evolution from the business or data analyst role. The formal training is similar to that of a data analyst or business analyst job, with a solid foundation typically in computer science and applications, modelling, statistics, analytics and maths.
What sets the data scientist apart is strong business acumen, coupled with the ability to communicate findings to both business and IT leaders in a way that can influence how an organization approaches a business challenge. Good data scientists will not just address business problems, they will pick the right problems that have the most value to the organization.
A data scientist is somebody who is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends, whereas a traditional data analyst role may look only at data from a single source – a CRM system, for example – a data scientist will most likely explore and examine data from multiple disparate sources.
The data scientist will sift through all incoming data with the goal of discovering a previously hidden insight, which in turn can provide a competitive advantage or address a pressing business problem. A data scientist does not simply collect and report on data, but also looks at it from many angles, determines what it means, then recommends ways to apply the data.
When embarking on a data science career, you often require the foundations of a numerical related bachelor’s degree, such as mathematics, statistics, or computer science. Master’s degrees are not a necessity but can aid in landing a role in data science. For some roles and companies, a PhD may be desired, though this is not very common.
Many big organisations offer graduate schemes in data analytics, data science, and other data related fields. Some government run companies even offer internships, apprenticeships or degree apprenticeship schemes which are a competitive, but an excellent way into a data career.
Online data competitions, such as Topcoder and Kaggle, are sometimes hosted by large employers, to headhunt talent, so entering these is a great way to show off your skills and fast track yourself.
It will be expected for you to be familiar with programming languages such as Python or Java, as well as having coding skills. You should be able to demonstrate your ability to handle and analyse data either within your education or a previous role.
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