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How to Become a Data Scientist

Posted on 11.19.2014

There’s plenty of openings for data scientists in modern digital enterprises, but not nearly enough data scientists to fill them. In fact, according to a report from McKinsey & Company, the demand for deep analytical talent in the United States could be 50-60 percent greater than its projected supply by 2018 – leading many Internet professionals wondering how they can take advantage of this opportunity. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started on a path toward a career in data science. 

Take a Course 

Recently the University of Washington conducted a free, online eight-week session, “Introduction to Data Science.” It introduced students to the basics of data science, leaving them armed with “practical experience extracting value from big data.” There are currently no future courses scheduled, but interested professionals can add the course to their watch list. 

Get a Degree 

The University of San Francisco offers a Bachelor of Science degree in data science, providing training in mathematics and quantitative skills, programming and problem solving for data-intensive fields such as economics, biology, computer science, etc. In addition to being career-ready upon graduation, the University of San Francisco states that students will be prepared for graduate training programs in analytics, financial engineering, computer science, economics and applied mathematics. 

Other schools like UC Berkley offer master degrees in data science


McKinsey & Company indicates that those people with deep expertise in statistics and machine learning, and the managers and analysts who know how to operate companies by using insights from big data, are difficult to produce. 

It projects that there will be a need for 1.5 million additional managers and analysts in the United States who can ask the right questions and consume the results of the analysis of big data effectively. Professionals should start retraining themselves in data science by reading relevant publications, keeping updated on the latest products that make big data useful and just think more analytically on the whole. That said, there's no short path to a career in data science, but "getting good" at stats and reporting is a good start. 

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