How to be a data scientist

Have you heard that data scientists are in demand, and wondered what it takes to be one? Take some advice from Wayne Thompson, Chief Data Scientist at SAS, and Chuck Kincaid, Engagement Director at Experis Business Analytics.

Start by following these four pointers from Thompson and Kincaid, and then learn more by watching the full videos, recorded earlier this year at SAS Global Forum.

  1. Know the full data lifecycle, and think creatively about how to find answers within that process. A few of the skills Kincaid mentions include: finding relevant data, incorporating new data sources and using existing data in new ways. From there, you'll need to know how to integrate data, create reports and web services, and communicate results persuasively. 
  2. Develop skills in three primary areas: computer science, statistics and business knowledge. Others might call these same three things programming, analytics and domain expertise. Regardless, you'll want to look at where you're strongest and spend some time developing the other areas. "You don't learn them all at once," explains Thompson. A lot of these skills are developed as you progress further along in your career.
  3. Be passionate about the potential of analytics. One of the key traits of data scientists, according to Kincaid, is that they're excited about making an impact on the bottom line  - not just writing code.
  4. Embrace the Data Scientist title. You might still call yourself a programmer or a statistician. But don't overlook job descriptions asking for data scientists. Carefully examine the responsibilities and see if it doesn't align with what you do already.


Chuck Kincaid of Experis Business Analytics


Wayne Thompson, Chief Data Scientist, SAS

Learn more in Kincaid's SAS Global Forum paper, "How to Be a Data Scientist Using SAS." Or check out the article, "Help wanted: Data scientist."

tags: data scientist, SAS Global Forum

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