Jumpstart your data science career

Data Science

Lyn Fenex, Experis

The data science profession has been called the sexiest job of the 21st century. It’s also landed on the list of the 25 highest-paying jobs with the most openings right now.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on the web describing “what is” a data scientist, but there are far fewer resources to help people learn the steps it takes to practice in this elusive discipline.

“I’m an applied statistician and I’m really trying to figure out what a data scientist is,” said Christine Wells, UCLA. “I’ve heard several people call themselves data scientists, but they don’t have any overlap in their skillsets.” Wells got some of her questions answered during a presentation at the Western Users of SAS Software (WUSS) conference in San Diego.

Presenter Lyn Fenex of Experis explained what you need to know to jumpstart your understanding of the theory and tools of data science.

8 data skills to get you hired

Fenex highlighted these eight skills that will help get your hired as a data scientist:

  • Basic Tools
  • Basic Statistics
  • Machine Learning
  • Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra
  • Data Munging
  • Data Visualization & Communication
  • Software Engineering

“You don’t have to have all of these skills,” said Fenex. “There are certain things you already know that will qualify you for some of these positions.” Her advice is to read data science job descriptions closely.  This will enable you to apply to jobs for which you already have necessary skills, or develop specific data skill sets to match the jobs you want.

The #datascience profession has been called the sexiest job of the 21st century. Click To Tweet

Most in-demand data skills

Fenex stressed that data scientists need to be able to program, preferably in different programming languages such as Python, R, Java, Ruby, Clojure, Matlab, Pig or SQL.  Data scientists should also have an understanding of Hadoop, Hive and/or MapReduce.

WUSS attendee and data scientist, Joseph Lei, offered his opinion about what it takes to be a data scientist. “Being a data scientist involves combining many different disciplines in a way that makes sense,” said Lei. “But I don’t think it’s possible to be a data scientist without being able to code.”

Resources for getting started


SAS offers free resources to help you get started down the path of a data scientist career.



About Author

Maggie Miller

Education and Training

+ Maggie Miller is a communications specialist at SAS. You'll likely find her writing blogs, shooting videos and sharing it all on social media. She has nearly ten years of journalism experience that she brings to her writing to help you learn and grow with SAS. Follow on Twitter @maggiemiller0

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