Did someone say sexy? That’s how the Harvard Business Review describes a career in data science, which may be the perfect fit for you. Whether you’re in high school or college, it’s important to know what career and educational opportunities are available. Data science is a new and growing field that is now available for study at UC Berkeley’s datascience@berkeley program.
You can start to map your road to success now by laying a solid foundation for future data science degrees. Although math and science are certainly important, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to putting the whole package together. Having a diverse set of skills will come in handy when you’re looking for a job as part of a big data team.
Here are seven subjects to tackle to secure your spot as a data scientist down the road. And remember, it’s never too early to start preparing!
What does biology have to do with data analysis? Plenty. The research muscles you’ll develop here are a great springboard for learning how to take data apart, evaluate it and form conclusions based on your astute observations. Since you’ll need to track your work well, the organizational skills you’ll develop as a researcher will help you become an organized data scientist.
No surprise here. According to Linda Burtch, founder of Burtch Works, an executive recruiting firm, “The demand for quantitative professionals has grown so much across industries that there aren’t enough kids coming out of school studying math and statistics.” Do your math. Understand the science behind that computer screen. Every other skill is helpful, but these two are a must.
If you understand how big data is used, this one’s a no-brainer. All the analysis in the world won’t matter if companies don’t know how to use it to predict human behavior and act upon the findings. Do you know why CVS puts the flip flops in aisle 4 instead of aisle 5? A data scientist with a background in social science helped them decide.
You know how this works. The wiz who sits behind his or her computer all day and computes but doesn’t converse can’t help the client who needs results in plain English. As the world moves further into technology, and away from the personal touch, the ability to communicate well will set you apart from the pack.
English is the BFF to communication. Speaking the truth is wonderful, but the ability to also write it well is even better. Information unearthed during analysis is a foreign language to many. So if you’re a skilled translator, you’ll have a long line outside your future office door.
This one may seem a little light on its feet for the hardcore science crowd. But when a client wants results presented in a display of colors and graphs, you’ll be all set to dazzle and amaze. Page after page of text is too much for most people, so having the know-how to break it up with quality visuals will make you a hero on the team.
Of course you need to know business. Companies who hire data scientists expect a little understanding of their universe. The more you know about your client’s world, the better you can adapt what data science can do to meet their needs. They’ll pay you well, and maybe even send cookies.
According to Jim Maurer, vice president of U.S. Analytics for Catalina Marketing, “Finding the right people who truly have the depth of quantitative skills necessary to do the heavy analytical lifting we do at Catalina is not easy. It’s an even bigger task to find technically strong people who can effectively communicate and collaborate.”
A great data scientist is a mixed package of diverse skills. That’s why now’s a great time to get started. With a little planning, you can begin to build your foundation for a great future in the hot field of data science.Jenna Dutcher is a community relations coordinator for UC Berkeley's datascience@berkeley degree - the first and only online Master of Information and Data Science. Follow datascience@berkeley on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates.