You must have heard about such an occupation as a data scientist as it has become really trendy over the last few years. An average salary of a junior data scientist is $90,000 and such people are quite in demand today. Those facts make it worth discussing who a data scientist is and how to become such a professional.
What is a data scientist?
Data scientists work on discovering trends and patterns which are later used for business needs. Briefly, a data scientist is a data expert who has the technical skills needed to solve complex data-related problems. In other words, a data scientist is someone who is trained to perform data processing comprehensively.
This is how Camila Manera, a Data Scientist Manager at The Walt Disney Company, described this occupation:
“As a data scientist, you need to have the . In this way, you will be able to create an effective impact.”
Usually, companies need data scientists to be able to predict consumer behavior and identify ways to generate income through data processing.
One of the main responsibilities of this person is working with analytical and machine learning models which helps to process and transform data effectively. However, developing new models takes only 5 to 10 percent of total work time. Usually, a data scientist just uses already developed models and tunes them to use for processing the needed data.
Another huge task is cleaning data. Data scientists need to be able to get the best out of it and also to make sure the data will fit in the models.
Difference between a data scientist and data analyst
While a data scientist is working on predicting trends and patterns, a data analyst is answering questions that the company has right at the moment. Moreover, among the main responsibilities of an analyst is creating reports and dashboards to visualize the data in an understandable and usable for managers way. Also, a data analyst focuses on gathering data from incremental sources to get it into different analytical tools.
For this position, a person is required to have a degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics, etc. Moreover, employers prefer to hire people with a Master’s or even Ph.D. degree. However, there are many companies where hiring managers are looking mainly at skills and can opt for a person without formal education.
So, there are mainly two ways to get the needed knowledge. You can earn a degree in Computer Science from a university. Alternatively, you can complete an online course which can be a more cost-effective and quick way to gain the needed skills. Decent data science courses are offered by such companies as Coursera, DataCamp, and some others.
There is a common set of skills a data scientist is required to have. The main is statistics and mathematics as the person needs to do complex calculations and use statistical methods and probability theory to make use of the information.
Another important skill is programming as this is the main tool to quickly and effectively process the data. The most popular language for this is Python which has dozens of useful libraries for data analysis like Numpy and Pandas. Moreover, such libraries as Tensorflow are one of the main tools for machine learning tasks.
Another common skill is SQL which means working with databases on a regular basis.
Tips to become a data scientist
Answer the main question
The first thing do to is to figure out whether this job is good for you. At the first glance, it might sound very promising and intriguing, but when you start actually working, you might feel frustrated and demotivated. Thus, take some short online courses and test your motivation. But before paying for the course, it’s a good idea to try a free trial period most companies offer.
Get into data science communities
Surrounding yourself with people who work as data scientists or are also trying to get into this field can be really motivating. Moreover, such a network helps to change the mindset in the needed way as we usually unconsciously mocking those we are often communicated with. Additionally, such communities are helpful for practical reasons – those people might help with solving data-related issues so you learn more effectively. And finally, such a network can help you in finding your first job in this field.
Reach out to a senior data science
This tip means finding a mentor that can guide you through the way. An experienced data scientist can share his/her career path with you, advise on where to start, which pitfalls to avoid, etc. Moreover, such a person can help you with practical tasks like solving a Python assignment, show you your weaknesses in the code or models, and also help you with preparing for a job interview.
You can find such a mentor on Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn, or niche forums.
Find a continuous project that makes you excited
The best way to practice your skills is to work on a continuous project that includes a number of steps and has a clear final goal. Here are some ideas of such projects:
- Gender and Age Detection with Data Science
- Fake News Detection
- Emotions Recognition
- Classifying Cancer
- Customer Segmentation
Data science is a very promising career path but simultaneously, it is very complicated and is not a good fit for everyone. Thus, before taking this path, evaluate your skills and your abilities as well as whether this is the best possible choice for your life. If the answer is Yes, this job seems to be very rewarding and you will be in a very future-centric environment.
Interesting related article: “What is Data?”