Many young Australians are interested in the sciences and follow a carefully planned route to one of the better universities, with a view to working in a scientific field, and if you are at the time in your life when career choices come into play, the field is indeed wide open. The exponential development of technology makes for interesting and challenging career choices and if you are good at crunching numbers, perhaps a career as a data scientist is something to consider. A data scientist looks for innovative ways to interpret information and using a range of skillsets, he or she would have firm objectives in mind and would focus on achieving them in the most cost-effective way possible.
If you’ve already decided this is the career for you, then you should consider what skills and attributes a potential employer would be looking for in a data scientist, and with that in mind, here are a few strengths that would see you in good stead when applying for such a position.
Solid Academic Education
The ideal candidate would have a strong academic education such as an MIT SDM degree, with mathematics and the core sciences especially relevant and it is interesting to note that approximately 8 out of 10 data scientists are educated to Master Degree level, with a high percentage going on to complete their PhD. If you want to get your foot in the door, so to speak, a university degree would be the minimum requirement and the more focus on mathematics, the better. Qualifications are always important and with data collection and analysis constantly required, possessing the right certification tells a potential employer exactly what you are capable of.
Strong Team Player
Of course, you would be part of a team, so excellent communication skills and the ability to work well with others are essential attributes to bring to the table, and if you have some independent research experience under your belt, this demonstrates the ability to work unsupervised – something you would have to do at times.
A Flair for Statistics
Statistics are an integral component of data analysis, with null hypothesis, P-Value and probability all coming into play, and if you are familiar with terms like “maximum likelihood estimators” and “confidence intervals”, so much the better. The ideal data scientist is passionate about data interpretation and would most certainly call themselves a lifelong learner, always striving for more knowledge. This informative infographic puts things into perspective and it might help you to gain a deeper understanding of the necessary skillsets a data scientist would possess.
Extensive Programming Skills
Computer programming experience in a number of basic languages is another key skill for a data scientist, with Java, C++, Perl and Python Coding experience a definite advantage. Data scientists love solving problems and with attention to detail and perseverance, they are always ready to try something new. Coding and data analysis go hand in hand and you would need to devise and apply models and algorithms for large scale data mining and while working as a key member of a team, you would also demonstrate a high level of independence and be able to focus on a given assignment with little or no assistance.
Natural Curiosity and Creative
A data scientist would be curious by nature and would have a generous helping of creativity and critical thinking skills, with which to experiment, looking for new and innovative ways to come up with the ideal solution. Thinking outside the box enables a person to see something from every perspective and by using the many talents listed above, the effective data scientist would be a key team player who has a lot to offer in many ways.
All Round Communication Skills
Communicating complex ideas with other team members demands a high level of interpersonal skill and you would need to have a good business acumen in order to prioritise and be able to make yourself understood with all of the stakeholders.
Realising the True Potential of Data
Data mining and analysing in the right way can lead to the maximum use of data – which is every data scientist’s goal – and with a firm commitment to excellence and a “never say die” attitude, you could have what it takes to excel in this field.
When you consider the type of work involved, the data scientist’s role is very demanding and if you are the kind of person that likes an intellectual challenge, data science might be right up your street.