How To Become A Data Scientist

3 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE, SYSTEMS & TECHNOLOGY

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Glassdoor has named Data Scientist the best job to have in America for the third year running1. This prestigious title is based on average earning potential, job satisfaction and the number of job openings available per year, and according to Linkedin, the need for Data Scientist roles has grown over 650% since 20122.

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With opportunities afforded to Data Scientists and the variety of experiential backgrounds and fields associated with the role, you’ll need to ensure you gain the right recognition for your expertise as you pursue this career path.

What are the key responsibilities of a Data Scientist?

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Key areas

Data Scientists are big data organisers. Using their formidable talent in organisation, math, statistics, and programming, they collate and manage large quantities of data. In order to be at the top of your game, try to focus on these key skills:

  • Transform data into a format that’s easier to work with, known as data munging/wrangling
  • Present data in picture or graphic form, or data visualisation, enabling decision-makers to interpret big data in a visual context
  • Use business systems analysis  to answer business questions through data and statistical modelling
  • Leverage programming languages and machine learning to retrieve information from databases

Data Analysis

  • Draw accurate and actionable conclusions
  • Discern when patterns in data are meaningful
  • Present big data in picture or graphic form

Want these skills?

Machine Learning

  • Support strategic decision making by integrating key AI management and leadership insights
  • Develop a roadmap for the strategic implementation of AI technologies
  • Transform your organisation through practical grounding in AI and its business implications and applications

Want these skills?

Data Management

  • Make processing, validation and other functions less labour-intensive
  • Able to structure databases and leverage big data from all data sources
  • Transform data into a format that’s easier to work with3

Want these skills?

 

Data Analysis
  • Draw accurate and actionable conclusions
  • Discern when patterns in data are meaningful
  • Present big data in picture or graphic form

Want these skills?

Machine Learning
  • Support strategic decision making by integrating key AI management and leadership insights
  • Develop a roadmap for the strategic implementation of AI technologies
  • Transform your organisation through practical grounding in AI and its business implications and applications

Want these skills?

Data Management
  • Make processing, validation and other functions less labour-intensive
  • Able to structure databases and leverage big data from all data sources
  • Transform data into a format that’s easier to work with3

Want these skills?

What is the career path of a Data Scientist?

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Data powers various industries – business, sports marketing, tech development, science and more – creating multiple opportunities for potential job candidates.

There are many job titles that are akin to a Data Scientist, where responsibilities and key focus areas could be interchangeable. The term Data Scientist can sometimes be used as a blanket job title used to describe jobs that can be drastically different:

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  • Fine-tunes statistical and mathematical models that are applied to data
  • Applies theoretical knowledge of statistics and algorithms to find the best way to solve a problem
  • Translates a business problem into a data question, and use predictive models to answer the question

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  • Has experience in software engineering to handle large amounts of data at scale
  • Uses computer science to help process large datasets and implement requests that come from data scientists
  • Comprehends a variety of programming languages
  • Understands data storage, warehousing solutions and programming frameworks

  • Sifts through big data
  • Provides reports and visualisations to understand insights within data
  • Translates big data into English for mass consumption
  • Holds clear grasp of data manipulation and data communication4

Related content: The big deal with big data

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What is the potential salary for a Data Scientist?

In order to become a high-earning, sought-after Data Scientist, you’ll need to ensure you have the right combination of experience and practical knowledge.

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Focus on growing your skills in the following areas:

  • Strategic knowledge in the latest data mining methods
  • Expertise in NoSQL databases and a keen understanding of programming languages
  • Advanced skills in data collection procedures that can be used to enhance multiple business procedures

Click on a country to see what you can expect to get paid as a Data Scientist in either South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States of America:

  • RSA
    Entry-Level R327,805
    Mid-Career R532,455
    15 Years Experience R764,254
  • UK
    Entry-Level £36,255
    Mid-Career £46,029
    15 Years Experience £55,000
  • USA
    Entry-Level $87,629
    Mid-Career $100,842
    15 Years Experience $128,011

Source: payscale


Related content: Why is data analysis important in business?


What are the education and training requirements for a Data Scientist?

The education requirements to start your Data Scientist career are cut and dry. You need to study a BA in math, statistics or engineering in order to start off in the data field.

However, it’s important for you to continue improving, training and building on what you have learnt in order to keep climbing towards a Lead Data Scientist role.

By adopting the mindset of a lifelong learner and pursuing continuing education options like online short courses related to the field, you’ll be able to stay ahead of trends in the industry. By taking online short courses you’re actively acknowledging how data science is constantly evolving and in turn,  show business leaders and prospective employees you prioritise learning – current and best practice.


Which skills do you need next?

Download a course prospectus to find out how one of these online short courses can help you become a Data Scientist.