Chances are you’ve heard the buzzwords “data science” or “data scientist” floating around in the STEM circles. As a career path, Data Scientist is the newish, trendy career path, boasting both high-demand and big salaries. But a basic understanding of what a data scientist does is needed to identify students who may be interested in the field. To do that, we need to look at what data science is.
Which, turns out, isn’t that easy. One definition says data science is the science of planning for, acquisition, management, analysis of, and inference from data. It’s a mix of Statistics, Computer Science and Mathematics with a little bit of extra thrown in. Basically, it’s a multi-disciplinary approach to collect, store, process, mine, and analyze data.
Now that we’ve defined data science, we can dig into what a data scientist does. Guess what, it’s kind of complicated too. In part, that complication comes from the almost constant evolution of the field. Today’s data scientists are being required to advance past the traditional skills, expanding into a full understanding of the life-cycle of data as well as communicating their findings and analyses in a digestible form. Data scientists may be asked to use existing data to predict future states for businesses and industries, influencing crucial decisions.
As the field grows in popularity, data scientists are becoming necessary assets to a wide spectrum of organizations. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the field, they’re generally well-rounded, highly-technical individuals capable of developing complex algorithms and parse through large quantities of unstructured data to drive both big picture and day-to-day strategies for their organizations. An ability to communicate these super complex and technical findings to various non-technical stakeholders across all levels of their organizations, adds another element to an already stacked required skills list.
There’s a reason this job is highly-valued and skilled data scientists can be extremely successful. There are a lot of skill and experience boxes to check when looking for a suitable candidate. There’s also a reason Glassdoor has ranked data scientist as the best job in America for the last four years with an average salary of just over $117,000. IBM has predicted the demand for data scientists to go up by 28% by 2020, expanding to over 2.7 million jobs in the US alone.
What to look for in your students/children: