If you’re wondering – who is a data scientist? – then this blog is for you.
Data scientists are curious individuals with great problem-solving ability. They possess technical IT skills like programming and are good at mathematics and statistics. They are also generally business minded. Due to their ability to navigate both – the tech and business worlds – they are hugely popular among employers. Data scientists earn some of the highest salaries in the market.
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Data scientists work to make sense of the large amounts of data we create in the digital world. They work with two types of data – structured and unstructured. Unstructured data is more difficult to work with. It’s the data that analysts previously ignored, but not anymore. Thanks to data scientists, organizations can now leverage the advantage that even these voluminous, disorganized data can give them.
Data scientists are deep thinkers. They strive to fulfill their intellectual inquisitiveness, that cannot resist asking questions, and find new solutions to real-world problems. Their drive to use their creativity in productive ways allows them to see data in a way that goes beyond the surface level to discover the hidden truths – trends and patterns – that lay beneath it.
Are They Just Analysts?
They are more than just analysts. Data analysts use machine learning algorithms to uncover insights from structured and unstructured data. Data scientists, on the other hand, develop machine learning algorithms that analysts, statisticians and other analytics professionals use. This is the primary difference between data scientists and data analysts.
Here’s how data scientists are different from data engineers.
What Backgrounds Do Data Scientists Have?
Data scientists are traditional mathematicians or statisticians, even programmers. They tend to be highly qualified. Many data scientists – around 88% – at least have a master’s degree (often in one of these subjects). They also generally have work experience in these fields.
Having said all this, it is not necessary for a data scientist to have this background. We need to remember that data science is a recent phenomenon. The job of a data scientist did not even exist too long ago. So, there was no standard path to this job – not definite path through college or university.
Data scientists essentially became themselves through their passion for solving problems and general curiosity. They were only aided by their technical, statistical and business ability in this mission. If you possess these abilities, you need not worry about holding a specific degree or having a certain educational background to become a data scientist.
What Do Data Scientists Do?
There might not be much difference in what data scientists do on a day-to-day basis. But, their responsibilities may vary from one week to another. For some weeks a data scientist may work on a data mining project and then shift to developing a predictive model in subsequent weeks. A typical day generally involves problem-solving. This requires brain storming and going over suggestions from a variety of stake holders, which means a lot of meetings!
Tasks Data Scientists Perform
- Gather data from a variety of sources and make it usable
- Use data to solve business problems
- Uncover patterns and trends that can help business
- Make predictions that are relevant for the business
- Classify information according to needs
- Make recommendations to business or help them make recommendations to users
- Identify problem areas of business/product
- Prevent fraud
- Automate data processes
- Make data recognizable in image, audio and other forms
- Produce action plans
- Optimize operations
- Assess and manage risks
- Perform statistical tests and analyses
- Interpret data
- Visualize data for the benefit of team members
- Effectively communicate objectives and actionable insights with stakeholders
- Improving analytics using machine learning and deep learning
The tasks that a data scientist performs depends on the needs of the organization. Obviously, a data scientist working for a startup will not have the same goals as a data scientist working for a large corporation. In this regard, every data scientist is different. They may have similarities in terms of tools and skills (outlined in the next section). Perhaps, even their education background might be similar. But, the objectives they work to achieve will most likely be different.
What Skills Do Data Scientists Possess?
Arguably the most important skill in data science. Programming helps data scientists analyze large data sets. It helps them build their own tools for this purpose. And, it improves their statistical and other abilities.
Analysis of data would be impossible without knowledge of statistics. Therefore, this is one of the primary skills (along with programming) that data scientists must have.
Analysis of voluminous data would not be possible without computers. Having said that, computers would not be able analyze data without training. Data scientists must have machine learning skills so that they can help computers learn from data.
This includes domain knowledge and understanding of product. With these two, data scientists can identify the most pressing concerns to address and immediate goals to achieve, and quickly do so.
Lastly, data scientists must be master communicators. The work of a data scientist is not restricted to any team or department. They must collaborate with a variety of professionals and stakeholders. Hence, they must possess good communication skills to be able to clearly communicate insights and objectives, and coordinate efforts of different departments.
They should be good at visualizing data so that others can grasp what they mean by looking at visualizations instead of having to imagine it themselves.
Can I Become a Data Scientist?
If you know programming and are good at mathematics and statistics, most definitely. Even otherwise, you can. If you are willing to invest time and energy in it. You need training. And whether you know these components or not, you will need a mentor.
A lot of professionals are shifting to a career in data science, so there is no reason you cannot. Remember, you don’t need a degree or any specific background. Data science is about solving problems. Not showing a paper as qualification.
Who Is a Data Scientist?
Do the tasks that data scientists perform excite you? Do you have some (if not all) of the skills that data scientists generally possess? Are you curious and motivated to solve real-world problems by garnering insights from data? Then you are a potential data scientist! Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you achieve your true potential.