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How To Become a Data Scientist And Get Hired

A data scientist should be able to choose the right technology, understand the business context and solve a wide range of problems. To hire the the right data scientist, check the tips list in the post.

By Mark van Rijmenam (Datafloq)

how to become a data scientist

The Big Data Scientist is said to be the sexiest job of the 21st century and it is likely to be very well paid. Salaries are in the high $ 100k per year and there is a strong demand for the best Data Scientists. A lot of the 20th century jobs on the other hand will disappear thanks to robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. How should you ensure that you can also obtain one of those sexy jobs, how can you become a data scientist and get hired?

Well, it all starts with obtaining the right skills, surprisingly. The challenge however with becoming a data scientist is that you need a long list of skills to get hired. Some time ago, I already published a typical job description of a Big Data Scientist and other infographics show that it is a very long road to become a Big Data Scientist. But with an expected shortage worldwide of 56.000 Big Data Scientists by 2020 in the UK and 140.000 – 190.000 in the USA, it is definitely worth pursuing.

Be Able to Choose the Right Technology

There are a multiple different tools and techniques that a Data Scientist should master. Of course I could give an overview of the different technologies that are available within the market and that the Data Scientist should be familiar with. However, there are so many different programming languages, machine-learning techniques, visualization tools and data mining technologies that it would result in long and complicated list of required skills. I rather focus on broader overview and direct you to this outstanding roadmap of becoming a Data Scientist.

A Data Scientist should be able to discover patterns in millions of data points, streaming from different sources, and be able to infer insights from those patterns that can be used in decision-making. The Data Scientist should be able to find triggers that can be used to optimize those insights, be it within sensor data at a factory or detect customer behavioural triggers for retailers. Based on the requirements, the Data Scientist should be able to select the best tool and technique to get the best results. So instead of knowing a plethora of different techniques, the Big Data Scientist should be able to choose wisely among those techniques to obtain an optimized result.

Understand the Business Context

Choosing the right technology of course has to do with understanding the business and more importantly understanding the right business context. Before a Data Scientist should dive into the data, he or she should clearly understand the context and thoroughly master the problem at hand. The best way to do that is in collaboration with the business partners and ask clarifying questions to completely understand what needs to be done. A Data Scientist should there also have some sort of understanding of how a business is run, which of course depends on the size of the company as well as the industry the company is in.

Different industries require different solutions and different solutions require a different approach. In order to get hired in a specific industry, you should therefore have a feeling for the industry, as that will enable you to better understand the context. A better understanding of the context will result in better insights.

Obtain Work Experience Through Projects

Especially ambitious, new Data Scientists should have experience in working with different data sources and solving a wide range of problems. Although there is a shortage in Big Data Scientists, it still is important to showcase the right experience if you want to get hired. Of course, this may sound like an open door, but the more different projects you have done, the more skills you master and the better you can understand different businesses. Websites like Kaggle or the Experfy, developed by the Harvard Innovation Lab, can give you the right experience to land that dream job within your favorite company.

Bonus for Organizations: Tips to Hire the Right Data Scientist

Hiring the right Big Data Scientist is also a challenge for organizations. As a bonus here are three tips for organizations to find the right Data Scientist:
  1. Because of the scarcity, the right Data Scientist might not be available right now. The ultimate Data Scientist who masters all the different technologies does not even exist. So if you want to get started with a Big Data Strategy, look for a professional who understand your industry as well as has at least some of the skills. From there on a Data Scientist can learn on the job as well.
  2. The right Big Data Scientists might not live around the corner. You can either wait for this to change, or you can look into the possibilities in moving someone to your area or take advantage of remote working. Data analytics can be done from a distance and using video conferencing you are still able to collaborate.
  3. Train existing employees and let them learn from each other. Instead of hiring an expensive Data Scientist you can also look into the possibilities to train your employees and have them improve their skills along the way. It might even be that you employ a Data Scientist without even knowing it.
Original on Datafloq

Bio: Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq, the One-Stop Shop for Big Data, creating the Big Data ecosystem by connecting all stakeholders within the global Big Data market. He is an entrepreneur, a well thought after international public speaker and a Big Data strategist. He is author of the best-selling book Think Bigger - Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business. He is ranked #19 among global top Big Data influencers.