It’s every parent’s dream to raise a successful doctor, but in today’s high-tech era, there’s an even more acclaimed title taking over: the data scientist.
And for those looking to enter the field, finding a job post-graduation should be no problem at all, considering the explosion in the need for these professionals. Industry research firms estimate there will be thousands of job openings in the next few years to meet the huge demand. So what exactly do these experts do?
We spoke with Vivian Zhang, founder and chief technology officer of the NYC Data Science Academy to find out:
What does a data scientist do?
A data scientist is someone with a background in math, computer science and statistics, who uses those skills to gather data and deliver it to companies who are looking to increase results. “He or she might do a forecast for the next quarter’s sales revenue, understand the driving factors of marketing activities, and come up with innovative ideas to drive a successful business,” says Zhang. “It’s the secret weapon that no enterprise or research entity can overlook.”
What schooling do you need?
Those who enter the profession are typically trained in business, finance or a technical field like engineering. “But there are also students who come from backgrounds in everything from advertising to English literature and bartending,” explains Zhang. “Some of the most important traits for being a successful data scientist are the ability to solve problems and strategize using data,” which students can learn by enrolling in a data-science boot camp. These programs will arm them with the computer programming and math skills they need to enter the workforce.
What’s the typical salary?
The median salary for data scientists is $113,436, according to national averages surveyed by Glassdoor.
There is a huge demand for data scientists that will only continue to grow in the coming years. “The amount of data being produced and recorded across all aspects of business and daily life is constantly increasing, and businesses and organizations have to tap into insights from that data,” she says. Plus, almost all industries— from finance and banking, to healthcare and education—need these professionals. “I would say it’s just the beginning of the golden age for data scientists.”
By 2020 the number of data science and analytics jobs is expected to grow by nearly 364,000 to about 2,720,000 according to a study conducted by IBM, Burning Glass and the Business Higher Education Forum.
“It’s a fun, challenging, and rewarding profession,” says Zhang. Data scientists are also crucial members of businesses, she explains. On regular basis, they build data models that can help guide a company to make smart decisions. “One of the best things about being a data scientist is actually seeing the models you’ve built producing valuable insight.”
Those entering the field need to be self-driven and quick learners in order to keep up with the changing technology. “It can be a bit of a challenge to stay current with the latest platforms and new tools that are constantly being released.”