A Career in Data Science
Data science appears poised to be the next big growth market in tech employment. There is no arguing that companies collect huge amounts of information, so it makes sense that they are always looking for ways to make sense of it. Because data science is an emerging field, there is not always a great deal of clarity in what is, and what is not, required. If you are comfortable working in Excel, can clean data, and create visualizations, you are probably an analyst, but some companies don’t need anything more involved than that. Serious data scientists, however, need to understand statistics, know how to manipulate huge amounts of data, and understand the questions they need to ask and answers they can compile from the information they have. If this sounds appealing to you, you may be curious how to best break into the field.
Earn a Graduate Degree
To qualify for a true data scientist job, you should plan to have at least a master’s, and Ph.D.’s is common. A graduate degree in statistics, math, or even computer science can help you gain entry into the field. If you are open to the idea of earning a graduate degree, but concerned about how you will pay for school, consider private student loans. These loans are available at a favorable interest rate and repayment terms. Once you are employed in the field, you will find that the strong compensation offered makes the time spend in graduate school worthwhile.
Get Comfortable Programming
Python is the language most often used when working with large amounts of information. You should also learn SQL, so you understand how to work with databases. Also, teaching yourself how to use collaborative version control tools as well as how to deploy your models onto a cloud service will leave you well-positioned for a career transition.
Build on Your Existing Knowledge
When you are trying to break into the field, you may feel overwhelmed and like you will never know enough to become employed in the field. One way that you can boost your confidence, as well as enhance your odds of finding a job, is to transition into a field related to the area where you currently work. For example, if you work in healthcare, look for healthcare technology firms who are hiring. Even if you don’t stay in your industry, you can stay in your niche. If you work in marketing, for example, you can be sure there are companies out there looking for someone to make sense of their marketing information.While a good deal of working in this industry involves working with data itself, you should not overlook the importance of institutional knowledge. Being familiar with the industry itself has value as well. You will have an understanding of the terminology and will be able to more quickly grasp the questions the company hopes to answer. Institutional knowledge can provide the leg-up you need to break into this growing field. Proving your knowledge by completing some small projects on your own is also beneficial. There are many open-data sets available with free access. Use this information to create your own project to showcase during interviews.