What Do Data Scientists Do and What is it Like Being One?

The demand for data scientists has seen a 344% increase since 2013. Not bad!

It’s definitely one of the highest trending fields right now. Yet, there is still a lot of misconception about a data scientist’s role. 

So, what do data scientists do? Read on to find out. 

What Are Data Scientists?

Data scientists, not to be confused with data analysts or business analysts are analytical data experts. They possess the technical skills to solve complex problems.

Basically, they are part mathematician, part computer scientist and a little bit of a trend-spotter. Generally, they straddle the IT and business worlds. 

Data scientists are new creatures. This job title didn’t exist 10 years ago. But when it comes to data, businesses know that big piles of un-sorted information are useless.

A data scientist digs through the giant masses of data to uncover insights that no one thought to look for before. 

What Do Data Scientists Do?

A data scientist’s role is to take data from a variety of sources and interpret it for the client or business. 

Data scientists often work with high-performance computers and use data analytics programs and algorithms to extract meaning from data.

It’s important to understand that the word science is in the job title for a reason.

It’s about applying scientific techniques to solving business problems. A data scientist’s job is not just to find the best solution, but to find one that is profitable for the client or business.

Being a data scientist is rare because you get to do research, coding, and mathematics all in one role. You might research a paper, write an algorithm and code it all in one workday.

Yet, unlike jobs where you delve deep into one area, data scientists only do some of each. Due to time constraints,  the only part in which you will ever get the chance to go in-depth is data preparation.

In order to do well in this job you need to love to code and love math but without feeling the need to do one or the other as much as possible. 

Here are some of the tasks you may find on a data science job description:

  • Identify the data-analytics problems 
  • Collect large groups of data from a number of sources
  • Clean and validate data to ensure accuracy
  • Apply algorithms to mine big data
  • Analyze data to discover patterns
  • Interpret data to uncover opportunities
  • Communicate findings as needed

Wondering what a typical day is like for a data scientist? Most say there is nothing typical about working in this line of work. Each data scientist will find his or her own methodology.

Some like to burrow into one project until they solve it. Others like to jump horizontally from project to project.  There’s no right or wrong way to make the job work for you.

One thing all data scientists have in common is a drive to solve problems. This may lead to a slightly obsessive need to work until the problem is solved. Weekends are for wimps, then according to data scientists. 

How to Become a Data Scientist

You probably won’t find a data science program at your local university. So if you are interested in working as a data scientist you will have to focus on math, science, and computer science courses.

Most data scientists have graduate-level experience and pass a data science skills test. In fact, many data scientists hold master’s degrees and PhDs in some scientific field.

Don’t expect to take a course online and be able to jump into a job as a data scientist. You could potentially be an analyst, but you need graduate-school-level training for data science.

Keep in mind that it may be tough to find entry-level data science positions when you are done your schooling.

You’ll need to gain experience as quickly as you can and showcase your work online to attract job offers. You can turn to forums like GitHub to showcase your coding abilities.

Blogging about your personal data projects is also a good way to help you impress potential employers. Posting your code on an open forum will help you gain traction. 

Would You Make a Good Data Scientist?

The post-secondary education requirement is not all that’s needed to do well in this field. 

In order to succeed as a data scientist, you’ll need to have an interest in data collection and analysis. You’ll have to enjoy individualized work and problem-solving.

To thrive, it’s necessary that you enjoy taking on new challenges. You will also need to be able to communicate well both verbally and visually. At some point, once you’ve solved a problem you will need to give a presentation to stakeholders and make sure they understand your findings. 

Natural curiosity, critical and creative thinking skills are also paramount. If you love to connect the dots and look for answers to questions that haven’t even been asked yet, then data science could be for you. 

What’s Next for Data Science?

You obviously don’t want to head into a data scientist role if it is going nowhere. Even though data scientists are generating a lot of buzz right now, the interest hasn’t peaked.

Data science is still relatively new. We are in the early days yet and there’s lots of room for growth and development.  

Final Word

Thanks for reading! Now you can confidently answer the question what do data scientists do?

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