Big data is everywhere – every day, terabytes upon terabytes of new data is generated by every digital device or social media exchange. The growth of big data has also given rise to the fields of data analytics, and the job of data scientist.
What does a data scientist do?
Typically, a data scientist is a person with solid training in computer science, modelling, statistics, analytics and maths. Data scientists are adept at using a number of programming languages, and are comfortable with testing new technologies.
The work of a data scientist is challenging; it involves navigating through large volumes of unstructured data, trying to find relevant sets of information and creating meaningful and visually compelling reports. The importance of data scientist's role is not only in the collection of huge amounts of data but in looking at that information from different angles and deciding which information is relevant to their job.
What are the essential skills a data scientist should have?
Apart from strong technical skills, data scientists possess skills such analytical abilities, attention to detail, inquisitive approach to data (exploring and asking questions), and proficiency at using emerging technologies. A data scientist's job involves making complex patterns in data understandable to people who may have little understanding of the topic, so soft skills such as communication are also important.
The field of data science has many applications in both the private and public sectors; from helping online marketers assess the effectiveness of their campaigns, to enabling policymakers to make appropriate public health interventions - all through the smart use of data.
"1) Practical computing skills
2) Statistical skills
3) Critical thinking skills"
According to Jake Porway, a data scientist currently working with the New York Times, there are three essential attributes necessary to become a data scientist:
"1) practical computing skills: you need to be able to write scripts to scrape data as well as code up the algorithms you come up with in your head 2) statistical skills: you should know your basic stats (and more, ideally) if you're going to really be able to assess whether the models you're building or algorithms you're writing are doing what you want, and 3) critical thinking skills: This one sounds obvious, but it really sets apart the hackers from the true scientists, for me. You'd be amazed at how many times I've seen someone build a model and report the results without realizing that they hadn't thought critically about where the data was coming from or if their experiment was designed correctly. You must must MUST be able to question every step of your process and every number that you come up with."
Jake Porway, datascientists.net
The two most important programming languages for a data scientist to learn, according to Porway, are R and Python. If you're interested in big data, why not download Python, download some data, and see what you can discover?
What salary can you expect?
The average salary for a data scientist in the UK is £39,393 (€50,053) per year, shows PayScale. Experience strongly influences income for this job. People in this job generally don't have more than 10 years' experience.
Want to know more? Check our sources:
Interview: Jake Porway - datascientists.net
Data Scientist Salary - PayScale
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