The role of a data scientist

Harvard Business Review called data science “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” and businesses from start-ups to well-established Fortune 500s are scrambling to fill these roles with the best and the brightest.

Data scientists help companies interpret and manage data and solve complex problems using expertise in a variety of data niches. They generally have a foundation in computer science, modeling, statistics, analytics, and math - coupled with a strong business sense. It’s this merging of esoteric intelligence and practical knowledge that makes the data scientist so valuable to a company.

“Start-ups are producing so much data that hiring has increased dramatically. Salaries are on the rise for data scientists who are able to work closely with developers to provide value to end users," says Neil Wittensleger, Manager, Technical Recruitment at Robert Walters New York.

The role of big data

The role of a data scientist is becoming more pivotal to even traditional organizations who didn’t previously invest much of their budgets in technology positions. Big data is changing the way old-school organizations conduct business and manage marketing, and the data scientist is at the center of that transformation.

Thanks to a bevy of new software across the spectrum of business management, from marketing to HR to financial projections to R&D, it’s never been easier to access and decipher big data, which makes hiring those who can do the accessing and deciphering a smart move for organizations.

Core data science skills

Data scientists are often experts in technologies such as Hadoop, Pig, Python, and Java. Their jobs can focus on data management, analytics modeling, and business analysis. Because they tend to specialize in a narrow niche of data science, data scientists often work in teams within a company.

In terms of credentials, it’s not uncommon for a data scientist candidate to have a PhD. Beyond credentials, they are expected to expertly embody professional skills such as communication, leadership, collaboration, creativity, discipline, and a driving passion for truth in information. 

Data scientists can be real change-makers within an organization, offering insight that can illuminate the company’s trajectory toward its ultimate business goals. Data scientists are integral to supporting both leaders and developers in creating better products and paradigms. And as their role in big business becomes more and more important, they are in increasingly short supply.

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