What Skills Do I Need to Become a Data Scientist?

Data makes today’s world go round. Living in an interconnected world, we produce a significant amount of data every minute simply by logging in to our favorite social media platforms, sending emails, streaming music and using search engines. 

These activities translate to approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. To put that into perspective, the size is big enough to fill 10 million blu-ray discs, which when stacked, are as tall as four Eiffel Towers on top of one another.

If that isn’t mind-boggling enough, the figures will only continue to grow. According to the World Economic Forum, the amount of data generated daily is estimated to hit 463 exabytes in 2025—that’s 463 billion gigabytes! That being said, an increase in professionals specializing in data is needed to ensure all this data is properly gathered, stored and managed. That’s where data scientists come into the picture.

In essence, data scientists are professionals tasked with collecting and going through a massive amount of data to find valuable insights that would further refine how an organization operates and makes decisions. They also draw conclusions from data to help solve complex problems. Data scientists can be found across all sectors, including the telecommunications, healthcare, finance and even automotive industry.

Data scientists are compensated handsomely with an average salary of $122,788 annually, making it one of the most desirable positions in today’s tech landscape. Another perk of venturing into the field is that you will assuredly secure a place in the future of work. The world is—and will not stop—producing more data, at the very least in the foreseeable future.

If you are looking into a career in data science, we have listed some of the most crucial skills to have. In this article, we will also highlight some of the best resources where you can learn these skills. 

Data Science Skills

Seeing as data science is a heavily technical field, you would need to master several skills that can help you accomplish tasks such as creating algorithms and predictive models for data extraction.

Programming Languages

It goes without saying that coding is the main tool of the trade. While a lot of tasks can be accomplished with the help of software like Tableau and Apache Spark, data scientists still need to be able to code. The language that you need to master would typically depend on the requirements of the company that you work for. However, as a general rule of thumb, it is best that you start with Python before moving on to others like R and SQL.

Statistics

Knowledge of statistics is crucial for data scientists because it provides them with the methodologies needed to solve complex problems involving data. By using fundamentals like distributions, variables and probabilities, data scientists are able to find structure in a dataset, which subsequently provides better insight into the data they are analyzing.   

Data Wrangling

Said to be a core skill of the job, data wrangling is the process of providing uniformity to the data gathered so it can be better scrutinized and analyzed. As we know, data can come in all shapes, sizes and formats, so this process alone can take a huge chunk of time—some industry experts reportedly spend 75 percent of a project’s duration on this particular process. 

Machine Learning

In essence, machine learning refers to the application of artificial intelligence to allow computers and systems to learn on their own based on datasets provided to them. Good data scientists should familiarize themselves with some machine learning algorithms such as linear regression, logistic regression and the decision tree. This is especially important since the entire industry embraces advancements in the likes of deep learning and artificial neural networks.  

Best Schools to Learn Data Science

The fastest and cheapest way to learn the skills needed to make a swift jump into the field is by enrolling in coding bootcamps. They generally offer immersive courses that groom you to be job-ready in mere months. Most also provide career support to students and have established hiring partners. Below are some of the best coding bootcamps that you can check out:

General Assembly

One of the best Python bootcamps available is offered by General Assembly. With over 25 campuses worldwide, you can either opt for its full-time Data Science Immersive course or enroll in its part-time Python Programming course—both available online and on-campus. The courses need to be completed within 12 weeks and 10 weeks, respectively. The award-winning curriculum will teach students the fundamentals of data analysis and classical statistical modeling, among others.

Thinkful

Thinkful believes that financial stress should not hinder tech aspirants from getting the education they deserve, especially if it’ll help boost their career prospects down. With the school’s deferred payment plan, you will only need to start paying your tuition after making $40,000 annually. There are two programs to pick from, either Data Science Immersion (full-time for five months) or Data Science Flex (part-time for six months).

Springboard

The school offers a comprehensive Data Science bootcamp that covers 18 topics including those aforementioned. Touted to be a career-focused bootcamp, Springboard provides one-on-one mentor support throughout the entire six-month duration of the course. Not only will students get to build their portfolios through hands-on learning, but they are also guaranteed a full refund on tuition if they don’t get a job within six months of graduation.