In today’s rapidly changing job market, where career stability appears largely a thing of the past, it can often seem impossible for job seekers to know what to study. Certainly, there’s little doubt the jobs landscape has changed immeasurably over the last couple of decades, making many question what qualification offers the best security and prolonged chances of employment in the future.
A fourth industrial revolution
The rate of change and pace of the development of technology in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable and today’s workplace is massively different from that of even last decade. With the rise of tech, machines, and the increasing use of automation in business, it seems clear that the jobs of tomorrow will likely be very different from those of today.
This so-called digitization of business has made many analysts suggest that the world is currently in the throes of a fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0, as it’s often called. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) now playing an increasingly important role – plus the growth in robotics and autonomous machines – it is perhaps little wonder so many of today’s job seekers remain at a loss when trying to decide what career path to follow.
If you can’t beat them, join them
With tech transforming so much of our personal and business lives these days, there’s surely little doubt that some of the most secure jobs in the future will be in the computer and IT sector. Indeed, in our modern world, it’s almost impossible to think of any firm that doesn’t rely on the web and tech to at least some degree. Companies can Convert XML to CSV online, and use cloud computing services so they can access documents from anywhere in the world, just to name a few. From simple web browsing or emailing clients right up to Big Data crunching and e-com-only businesses, pretty much all companies these days rely on technology.
The importance of data in today’s world
Never before have we shared and imparted so much of our business and personal affairs to online systems. From Facebook and the other massive social platforms to blog sites and messaging apps, the world has gone largely digital, with the boundaries between the real and natural worlds constantly blurring.
This reliance on tech (and our seemingly insatiable desire to store sensitive information online) has led many industry experts to suggest that data has now become the world’s most valuable commodity – worth even more than the traditional high-value hitters like gold and oil.
Certainly, it’s most definitely true that we all collectively rely on online systems more than ever.
The role of a data scientist
As you might expect from the title, a data scientist works with data to understand and analyze information, often making key data-driven decisions. These rules and practices are increasingly being applied to all spheres of business, with analysts able to study traced data and then come up with solutions for everything from how to drive greater efficiency in a firm to making predictions on future profitability.
The data science sector is growing at an exponential rate as firms all around the world seek to gain a competitive advantage by getting a better insight into and understanding of their internal processes.
Data scientists will typically have a variety of separate (yet inter-related) skills, ranging from mathematics, modeling, analytics, and statistics to basic business acumen and an understanding of commerce.
How to become a data scientist
While it would theoretically be possible to learn data science on your own, by far the most common and successful route into the industry is via a professional course at university. These days, with the increasing rise in online tutoring, it’s easier than ever to break into a career in data science – even if you’re already working in another role.
Online courses give students the flexibility to learn in their own time, at their own pace, and at a time and location that suits them – which, of course, is a far better and more successful way to take a course. Programs like a data science master degree are offered by a huge range of universities and colleges now, removing the need to attend in-person and on structured timetables.
Reasons to become a data scientist
As mentioned above, the jobs market has never seemed as uncertain as it does today, and it frequently appears harder than ever to find a career that will offer any measure of security tomorrow, never mind further down the line.
However, data science is one sector that has many advantages over other, more traditional jobs for the reasons noted below.
Data science is a growing sector that shows no signs of slowing
While it could be argued jobs related to computers and tech are already some of the most secure, data science and, in particular, the demand for data scientists, is far outstripping supply. Indeed, it’s been reported by McKinsey and Co that there is already a global shortage of data scientists – a situation that looks as though it may continue for some time.
By studying data science now, you could get one foot in the door of an industry that appears to know few bounds and that is in high demand across a huge variety of other sectors – anything from farming and agriculture to high finance and tech companies.
You’ll earn a great salary as a data scientist
As you would probably expect, with such a high demand for data scientists, the expected salaries are also suitably high – much, much higher than in many other computer and tech-related industries.
You will be a valued, trusted member of staff that can change the direction of a company
Data is now the backbone of firms for everything from sales to internal communications and processes. As a data scientist, you’ll have a greater insight into a company than pretty much any other member of staff and will be able to apply that knowledge to drive real change and increase efficiency.
Company owners and bosses are increasingly looking to their data scientists to affect change across their firms from the top down. As companies come to realize the value of the data they produce and, perhaps more importantly, just how much that data can increase efficiency, the value of their data team will similarly increase.
Working as a data scientist in a company is one of the most rewarding positions imaginable and, as might also make sense, could lead to even greater opportunities further up the chain in management. By helping add value and increase profits in a firm, you too will increase your worth.
Data science is constantly evolving
Unlike many other relatively static careers, the data science sector is still in its relative infancy and is constantly evolving. As new technologies come to the fore, like blockchain and edge computing, the role of the data scientist will continue to change and likewise evolve.
Moreover, other cutting-edge technologies are now also making inroads into data science. For example, some exciting work and progress is being made using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and so-called Big Data analysis.
Working as a data scientist will empower you with knowledge of these bleeding-edge technologies and give you a highly varied and interesting job where no two days are the same.
Work is virtually guaranteed as a data scientist
Through a combination of the demand for data scientists and the fact that there are still relatively few specialists globally, the employment opportunities in this industry are among the best of any job today. Moreover, as the skills of a data scientist can be applied to so many different sectors, it seems rather unlikely that demand is going to lessen anytime soon. In a time of so much turmoil within employment markets, coupled with so little relative job security, working as a data scientist could be just the job you’re looking for.
The skills you’ll need to develop to become a data scientist
As mentioned above, there is now a huge variety of specific data science courses available both online and in the most traditional settings of real-world, in-person education. However, while these courses will undoubtedly help you develop the skills required for the job, some natural aptitudes will make you more likely to succeed in the role of a data scientist.
Some of the skills that will help you get ahead in data science and forge a long-lasting career include (but are not limited to):
Statistical skills – The ability to query, decipher, and interpret data sets.
Mathematical skills – Having strong applied mathematics skills will help tremendously in data science – as will algebra, calculus, and having an understanding of probabilities.
Coding and programming – It should go without saying that understanding programming and languages will be a huge help for a career in data science.
Extremely strong communication skills – There’s little point in collecting and interpreting all this data if you then lack the skills to describe your findings and offer an insight into work for stakeholders. A good data scientist should possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills – plus the ability to present these findings.