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.
- Free Programming 1 and Statistics 1 eLearning courses
- Tutorial videos to help you learn the basics
- Download SAS University Edition – a free version of SAS software that allows you to practice