Why You Should Become a Data Scientist

We’ve talked quite a bit about the skills gap–that growing shortage of knowledge workers that is making it increasingly difficult for employers to fill open positions. Gaining new skills is becoming imperative, but not just in your current field, whatever that may be. The fact is, the Internet is changing things so rapidly that without an understanding of how to interpret big data, it’s going to be hard for every skilled worker to keep up, regardless of your level or position.

The Internet abounds with many definitions of Big Data. Here’s a concise one I liked from SAS.com: “Big data is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured.” Lisa Arthur, contributing writer to Forbes, defines it, “Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.” She says it “is as powerful as a tsunami, but it’s a deluge that can be controlled . . . in a positive way, to provide business insights and value.” (For her definitions of structured and multi-structured data, read Arthur’s article.) Arthur encourages every enterprise to begin to fully understand what big data is, does, and means to them, and to do so now, because “waiting will only delay the inevitable and make it even more difficult to unravel the confusion.”

What does big data have to do with each of us individually? According to Leah Arnold-Smeets of Payscale.com, “Unfortunately, there aren’t enough trained individuals in the world to become big data scientists – and that has a lot to do with early education (i.e. high school) not pushing STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses enough, or at all. The New York Times reports, “There will be almost half a million jobs in five years, and a shortage of up to 190,000 qualified data scientists, plus a need for 1.5 million executives and support staff who have an understanding of data,” according to findings of a recent McKinsey Global Institute report. In other words, you and I need to become data scientists in order to bring value to our organizations.

Author and speaker Bernard Marr says there are 6 key things you’ll need to become more valuable to your organization: analytical skills, creativity, mathematical and statistics skills, computer science, business, and communication ability.

Do these skills describe you? If so, start learning about big data! It could be the key to discovering your next career or opportunity for promotion.

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