The term “data science” was coined at the start of the 21st century, but it describes a field of study that’s been around for many decades. In fact, one of the earliest known references to the field of data science was back in 1962, well before computers were commonplace in people’s homes!
With data science, you can find meaningful insights from large collections of data, which can, in turn, help you (or in many cases, your employer) make wise decisions that benefit your organization. This makes data scientists vital team members within their companies — but only if they know what they’re doing.
But what exactly IS a data scientist, anyway? What does it take to become one? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Data Science?
Data science is the practice of analyzing data to find knowledge and actionable insights. Data scientists collect data, cleanse and aggregate it, and then manipulate that data to find trends. This work requires knowledge of a variety of methods, processes, and algorithms which draw from the scientific method, statistics, analytics, and programming.
Becoming a data scientist
Now that we know what data science is and what a data scientist does, how do we become one? This is a fast-growing industry with a high demand for workers; the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the industry to grow 15% by 2029, with over 5,000 new positions entering the labor market
A data scientist is a stimulating, fun, and lucrative job. But if you want to land this fascinating job, you’ll need to do a few things first.
Step 1: Find Your Passion
First things first: if you’re going to be a data scientist, you need to LOVE data. Data science can be a dizzying field, full of numbers and spreadsheets, and computer programs. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and that makes learning the subject almost impossible.
Luckily, it’s also very easy to fall in love with data. It’s very lovable! Once you get the hang of data analysis, it can be a lot of fun to find unique trends in your data set (or even better, to manipulate the data to make it meet your conclusions). The more you engage with data, the more fun you’ll have — and that will serve you in your future career.
Step 2: Get Your Degree
While you can learn the basics of data science on your own (there are many resources online that can help you learn the basics), anyone who wants to work in the world of data science needs a 4-year degree. Most data science professionals have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, data science, information technology, or another tech-related field.
However, it’s important to note that your bachelor’s degree is only the first step in your higher education. Most data scientists who want to further their careers get their master’s degree or Ph.D. so they can gain more skills, land higher positions, and earn higher salaries.
Step 3: Get Certified
In addition to your degree, you can earn data science certifications that can help give your career a boost. These courses are usually available online, and they can give you specialized knowledge, an opportunity to practice your skills, and another item you can add to your resume.
There are different certification courses you can take depending on your skill level and industry experience. For example, the IBM Data Science Professional Certification is ideal for beginners, while the Amazon AWS Big Data Certification is reserved for data scientists with at least five years of industry experience. Make sure you get the certification that suits your skill level!
Step 4: Intern and Learn
People always say that finding a job isn’t about what you know, but who you know. In the tech world, this is certainly the case; while a stellar resume and exceptional skills are important, often people get jobs because of the connections they made early in their careers.
Get an internship as early as you can, and do your best to make an impression while you’re there. Ask lots of questions and learn as much as you possibly can, as this will help you gain valuable on-the-job tips and tricks that you wouldn’t get from a textbook or college class.
Step 5: Land that Job and Work Hard
At this point, you’ve spent years studying data science. You’ve learned on your own time and in school. You’ve worked with other professionals and gained some industry experience. You’ve developed a serious love of data and the work you do.
Now it’s time to apply for your first official data science job. Often, interns can get entry-level positions with the companies where they work, or they can get a recommendation or connection from the people they worked with. Once you’ve got that entry-level job, stay focused and work hard. If you keep doing great work and keep learning all the time, you’ll soon be at the top of your field.
And if you want to learn even more on your data science journey, Legends of Tech is always there to help. Our team of experts can help teach you everything you need to know about data science, analysis, and anything else the tech world has to offer. Visit our website today to learn more!