Data Scientist is the rock star job title of the moment, and why not? There is a huge demand and a very small pool of qualified candidates. And those who get hired are making big six-figure salaries — who wouldn’t want in on that?
But just because you aspire to be a data scientist doesn’t mean you already are qualified to be one. Here are a few signs you’re not qualified for that unicorn job yet:
- You don’t have the advanced skills. One study of data scientist salaries found that 88% of data scientists have at least a Master’s degree, and 46% have a Ph.D. The fields vary from math to statistics, computer science to engineering, or even economics and operations research. But the fact is that without the training of an advanced degree, it’s incredibly rare for someone to have the technical skills necessary to be a data scientist.
- You come from strictly a research or academic background. All that said about advanced degrees, people that only have experience in the academic world must work on developing their business acumen. The best data scientists will be able to relate the pure data to the real-world business applications.
- Excel is your primary analysis tool. If Excel is your workhorse, you might be working with data, but you are not a data scientist. But you probably already knew that. On the other hand, knowing how to use Hadoop, Python, and AWS doesn’t guarantee that you’re right for the job either, unless you can back that up with examples of experience with unstructured data.
- You don’t add anything to the data. For me, the most important quality of a data scientist is the ability to add value to the data through analysis and interpretation. Anyone can present the facts that data provides. A good data scientist will be able to present those facts along with interpretation and visualization that will assist the executives and non data scientists in the organization make sense of it and make important decisions.
- You aren’t creative. It might be just the stereotype of the scientist or statistician, but people don’t tend to think of a data scientist as being creative. However, creativity is a key trait for a good data scientist because in the end, you are a storyteller. Data is useless without context, and it is the data scientist’s job to provide context and show how the data can help solve complex problems.
Of course, if any of these applies to you, it doesn’t mean that you will never be a data scientist, just that you’re not there yet. There’s honestly no such thing as an entry-level data scientist, but there are any number of jobs that could lead to a career in data science if you concentrate on building the right skills.
What would you add to my list of signs that someone is NOT a data scientist? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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