How to Start a Career in Data Science

data science

In the current scenario, if you are looking to embark on a career as a Data Scientist, you have chosen a career that is much in demand.  Data Science is such a coveted career that organisations and nations alike generate a lot of data daily. They need people to look at these data in a way that will provide insights for better functioning, prospects, future opportunities, or problems, and the like.

There are not as many Data Scientists as there are jobs waiting. The number of candidates available for Data Scientist positions is much, much lower than the number required. So, this certainly becomes a very good arena of opportunity.  This trend will remain even for the near future, making this is a good time to begin the journey to a career in Data Science. Whether you are new to this field or just wanting to brush up on your existing knowledge, many Data Science classes are available online that you can enrol in right away. So search and find one appropriate for you.

What is Data Science

Data Science is a blend of multidisciplinary knowledge.  In Data Science, design, statistics, programming, and mathematics come together to work on digital collections of data and manage the data in such a way that it provides useful results.

This successful management of data by using Data Science comprises the 3 stages of data being organised, packaged, and delivered. 

It is right to say that Data Science is a mix of technology, creating algorithms, and making data inferences for solving analytically complex problems. 

Why is there a need for Data Scientists

In contemporary times, throughout most organisations, many different types of data are generated every day. Organisations cannot interlink this data, make sense of the data, and finally, see how this data can be helpful to the organisation.  

What is needed is to look at this data and come up with insights that are both actionable and impactful.  To achieve this, organisations, be they government or private, are looking to hire such persons who can give such meaning to data which to others is only simple information. Such persons are the Data Scientists who study the data and provide insights that help make better organisations and even ward off possible problems that might occur in the future.

Data Scientists work with a sound sense of business, analytical skills, computer science knowledge, analytics, statistics, and mathematical skills to enable organisations to make informed decisions objectively.

What is the Role of a Data Scientist

It is the task of a Data Scientist to work closely with businesses and business stakeholders, ascertain the goals of the business and the stakeholders, and understand how the data can be employed to cull out information for achieving the goals of the business and stakeholders. It is the task of a Data Scientist to create processes for data modelling, design algorithms and come up with predictive models to pull out the data required by the business and provide analysis of that data in order to come up with useful insights.   

Though the data and the results will vary from project to project, the various stages that the Data Scientist will have to go through from data to useful insights will mostly follow the pattern as given below:

  • Asking the correct questions to start the process of discovery
  • Getting the data
  • Cleaning, processing, and storing the data
  • Investigating the data and performing an initial analysis
  • Selecting models and algorithms to apply to the data
  • Implementing Data Science techniques for a better sense of the data and its results
  • Measuring the results and improving upon them
  • Present the stakeholders with the result
  • Incorporating feedback and reworking the data, if required

In effect, a Data Scientist analyses enormous amounts of data and enables businesses to flourish by using the analysis for sharp insights to predict trends and growth, form strong business strategies, solve business problems and finally attain the goals of the businesses and the stakeholders.

What Skills Should be Acquired to Function as a Data Scientist

There are several skills required to perform the task of a Data Scientist, and these stem from the tasks that you will need to perform in the following areas:

  • Reasoning, both mathematical and statistical
  • Leadership, teamwork, communication/business communication
  • Programming

The skills span across the technical as well as the non-technical areas. 

These technical skills include: 

  • Knowledge og using statistics
  • Minimum one programming language, such as Python and R
  • Designing Machine Learning Algorithms
  • Data Extraction, Transformation, and Loading
  • Data Exploration and Data Wrangling 
  • Frameworks for Big Data Processing
  • Advanced Machine Learning (Deep Learning)
  • Data Visualization

Non-technical skills will include:

  • Teamwork
  • Strong Communication skills
  • Leadership Qualities
  • Intellectual Curiosity

Gaining Skills to Start a Career as a Data Scientist

Foremost, a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science or a computer-related field is a must. There could be some positions where a minimum of a Master’s Degree is required. In case your graduation/Masters degree is in any other field, do not fear. You have the option of pursuing a diploma in Data Science through online platforms. 

In the online courses world of today, all of the technical, as well as non-technical skills required to start a career in Data Science, can be learned online.

Assess your current skills and abilities and accordingly enrol in a technical/non-technical online course. 

For the technical part of the required skill set, some programmes span from eleven months to even longer durations, while some of them do not even require you to have a background in programming.  

Higher mathematics is what you cannot do without in the role of a Data Scientist.  So, you will need to learn mathematical concepts, such as solving complex equations, differentiation, integrations, and calculus. 

Next, you must know at least one programming language that is meant to manipulate databases, such as R and Python. 

It would be good to have a thorough knowledge of the Pandas library, which is Python’s data analysis library. To further elaborate, Pandas is a library of software.  It has been specially created for the programming language Python. Its purpose is to enable effective data analysis and manipulation. Specifically, it contains data structures and operations that help manipulate time series and numerical tables. The Pandas Library provides high-performance data frames that enable easy access to the data and provide an even easier understanding of the same. With Pandas, the process gets easier, and the data also gets converted to a tabular format. Various tools attached to Pandas provide help with data manipulation, such as enabling easier writing and retrieving of data, handling missing data, and cleaning messy data.

Finally, another language that a Data Scientist must have is full knowledge of machine learning.

As a Data Scientist, not only is it important to handle data, it is equally important to understand the results that come from that data and form relevant and impactful insights from the result of data manipulation. To do this, it is essential to know how to visualise data.  Data visualisation brings together several different data sets and creates a visual representation of that data in the form of graphs, charts, diagrams, etc. There are several courses available that can teach you how to visualise data.   

Where to Look for a Job as a Data Scientist

All companies that make any type of data transactions are prospective employers.  From e-commerce sites to the government sector, private sector, till the public sector, there are jobs for Data Scientists everywhere. Presently, there are more jobs for Data Scientists than there are qualified Data Scientists. In this wake, one key employer is any organisation that makes digital transitions.

With the increase in educational institutions and technology companies in India, Data Science is much in demand, and so are jobs for Data Scientists. It is a good idea to go in for a course to acquire an in-depth knowledge of this process, which is key to the role of being a Data Scientist.

The situation created worldwide due to the pandemic has made the part played by Data Scientists key to the shift in business operations online. This is done through the use of big data, cloud computing, and more advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Some of the fields where Data Scientists are leaving a mark and where Data Scientists are in big demand are – e-commerce, workplace connectivity, retail, artificial intelligence, healthcare, manufacturing, logistical supply chain, banking, cybersecurity, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and client data processing.

In the current times, entry-level Data Scientists age getting an annual package of Rs. 5,00,000.00 while the experienced Data Scientists could earn about Rs. 6,00,000.00 per annum in India.

Other than India, six countries (France, Germany, Sweden, UK, Finland, Ireland) worldwide show high requirements for Data Scientists who are in short supply. Right at the top is France because of the various startups that have emerged there in the recent past. At the bottom of the list is Germany, which is expected to fall short of 3 million skilled workers by 2030. 

A Final Word

A career as a Data Scientist in today’s emergent scenario is a very good option.  Go in for a Data Science and Analytics course for a head start.  For those who do not have the appropriate qualification for it but still want to pursue it, there are several courses that they can join to up their qualifications.  

Several institutes in India and around the world provide free beginners Data Science courses. Make use of them.

Remember, it is always a good idea to have certification proof in hand rather than just wanting the hiring organisation to test your abilities.