Data scientists: Companies want them, employees want to be them, but becoming one is no easy task

Data science
Senior leaders want data scientists, but they are not easy to find.

In the digital age, data is everything, so it’s no surprise that data scientists have the best job in the country right now, according to Glassdoor. But it may be surprising that becoming a data scientist isn’t so easy, a Business Insider article states. 

For one, data science programs may be hard to find at some universities, so Lotem Peled, head data scientist at sales intelligence platform, told BI that data scientist wannabes should “be intentional about the math, science, and computer classes you take.” For instance, get a master’s or doctorate degree in a specific scientific field.

“Data science is a wonderful field, but you can’t just take a few-month bootcamp and expect to come out and be a data scientist,” Data Science Association founder and president Michael Walker said in the article. “Maybe you'll be a good analyst. It takes graduate-school-level training.”

The best way to stand out in the numbers crowd is to showcase your work online, the article states. For example, use GitHub to demonstrate coding abilities or blog about your personal data projects.

“There’s really no better way to learn something than to solve a problem,” Adam Estrada, director of analytics solutions at DigitalGlobe, said in the article. “Posting your code up in an open forum where other people can see it really helps you gain traction, not only for yourself but for other people who are interested in working with you and hiring you.”

Another example of data science’s growth—and a great networking opportunity for those interested in joining the field—is the Strata Data Conference, which runs through Sept. 28 in New York City. It’s expected to attract more than 6,000 registrants this year, compared to 1,400 in 2011, according to a Forbes article.

Business value is on the agenda at the conference with the launch of Strata Data’s Strata Business Summit, a program track that “explores how to build data-driven strategies that deliver customer insight and drive efficiency and innovation,” the article states. The course’s content targets decision-makers, said Mike Olson, founder, chairman and chief strategy officer of Cloudera, a conference co-sponsor. Its goal is to share “what we’ve learned about the organizational changes required to use data well throughout companies. There are organizational and cultural changes that our most successful customers undertake. We describe these and why they matter,” Olson told Forbes.

Additionally, Findata Day at the conference will take an “unprecedented deep dive into the most disruptive data technologies—within the context of banking, investment and finance,” according to the conference website. These include using crowdsourcing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Looking forward, Olson and Ben Lorica, chief data scientist at O’Reilly Media and the conference’s program director, will add more content on disruptive data technologies to the event’s lineup.

“Senior leaders need to know how to manage change,” Olson said in the article.