What Do Data Scientists Do Exactly?
Nowadays, data is to civilization what gold used to be to our forefathers: the promise of a better tomorrow. Data can be used to predict natural disasters, to track the habits of online customers, and of course, to sell more stuff.
And oh, find the God particle.
But what exactly needs to happen so this information ends up being useful? Well, big data is the answer. And data scientists analyze lots of data and is known colloquially as big data.
I can almost hear your next question: ‘So what is big data? I hear it mentioned all over the place and can’t really put my finger on it’. The term explains the process of storing, classifying, analyzing and sharing massive amounts of information. Anyone who produces and sells anything can use big data. However, the big issue is not how to acquire data, but what to do with it.
Thankfully, this is where data scientists come into the picture.
What is a Data Scientist and What Does He Do?
Their training is similar to that of data analysts, but what sets them apart is their strong business insights, plus their ability to communicate findings to business and IT leaders.
According to IBM, “a data scientist does not simply collect and report on data, but also looks at it from many angles, determines what it means, then recommends ways to apply the data across an organization’s leadership structure.”
Cool! Can I Become a Data Scientist?
Glassdoor recently reported that the average salary for a data scientist is $118,709 versus $64,537 for a programmer. That’s attractive! So… how do you become one?
Experts agree that there are three basic skills that a data scientist needs in order to be successful:
- Computer literacy
- Strong math and statistics knowledge
- Knowledge of a particular business domain
Being a fast learner and having a curious and gritty personality definitely scores you some extra points.
Some of the best programs that specialize on Data Science are in the following universities:
- Berkeley University http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/MEng/index.shtml#areas
- University of Southern California http://www.cs.usc.edu/academics/masters/msdata.htm
- New York University http://cds.nyu.edu/academics/ms-in-data-science/
- Columbia University http://datascience.columbia.edu/academics-idse
- Cornell University http://vlis.isri.cmu.edu/
- Northwestern University http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/
- But there are many other programs which are very competent.
Once you get a degree and start dipping into the professional world it will be necessary to keep updated by taking boot camps and online-based courses to hone specific skills.
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