What’s a Data Scientist?

Every day, business leaders use data to reveal market trends and other insights, so they can feel confident that they’re making decisions that are informed and strategic. But how do they access these data sets? And more importantly, how to they understand what the data means? That’s where a data scientist comes in.

This post will explore the fascinating role of data scientists—what they do, why it matters, and what it takes to have a career in data science. Let’s get started.

What is a Data Scientist?

Data scientists are in charge of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting large data sets of structured and unstructured data that relate to their organization in some way. They use their findings to help business leaders and stakeholders make better decisions and improve their operations.

They do this by collecting, cleaning, and analyzing various data sets that can reveal market or economic trends and patterns, as well as consumer trends. To complete this task, data scientists utilize:

  • Programming languages
  • Mathematics
  • Database systems
  • And machine learning models

It’s a complicated role, but the insights they uncover allow their business to make strategic moves that are rooted in data, rather than assumption.

Related: What’s a Machine Learning Engineer?

What Does a Data Scientist Do?

On a day-to-day basis, data scientists work with huge amounts of data. This particular data can come from many different sources, such as surveys, social media platforms, transactions, and more.

Data scientists use many tools and techniques to clean this data so that it can be easily analyzed. Once the data is ready for analysis, they use their statistics and machine learning skills to find trends and patterns. They then present their findings to business leaders and other stakeholders so that they can make better decisions.

After collecting, cleaning, and organizing data, they can also build models that will be used to make predictions, or create visualizations to help others understand complex data sets.

Where do Data Scientists Work?

Data science is commonly associated with online retail, as these organizations rely heavily on trend analysis and machine learning models to predict consumer spending trends. However, data scientists are in demand across a host of industries. These include:

  • Technology and IT: This is a major sector for data scientists as they collect and clean data that supports artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and software development.
  • Finance and Banking: Data scientists in this space will analyze financial data to help detect fraud, develop risk models, and improve investment strategies.
  • Healthcare: In this industry data science is used for medical research and patient health data analysis.
  • E-commerce and Retail: Data scientists can analyze customer behavior, develop product recommendation systems and algorithms, and enhance pricing strategies.
  • Energy and Utilities: Data scientists can help to optimize energy consumption, predict equipment failures, manage renewable energy resources, and implement smart grid tech.

Responsibilities of a Data Scientist

While certain day-to-day tasks may vary across industries, there are some integral responsibilities almost all data scientists share:

  • Collecting data from their company’s internal databases as well as public data sets
  • Cleaning any collected data to remove errors or inconsistencies
  • Utilizing database management systems like MySQL
  • Analyzing data to find patterns or trends
  • Interpreting results and communicating their findings in a way that stakeholders can understand
  • Developing models and algorithms that will be used to predict future events or outcomes based on past data
  • Using data findings to share insights that can help their organization optimize processes
  • Assisting in the development of business solutions

What Qualifications are Needed to be a Data Scientist?

This career path requires immense understanding of data science, mathematics, database management, and even programming languages, making it an extremely technical role.

The technical or hard skills of a data scientist are heavily relied upon for their day-to-day responsibilities. However, they do require a degree of interpersonal skill to effectively communicate their findings. Below, we’ve included a list of both hard and soft skills data scientists need for success, as well as any educational requirements.

Skills Required for a Data Scientist

Successful data scientists should be equipped with the following skills, knowledge, and abilities:

  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Ability to understand complex data sets and find trends and patterns
  • Programming and coding languages like Python and Java
  • Understanding of machine learning and AI capabilities and algorithms
  • Ability to create machine learning and other data science models
  • Working knowledge of statistical methods and probability formulas
  • Experience in database management systems like MySQL
  • Problem-solving and troubleshooting
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to clearly communicate or translate data findings such as trends, patterns, or predictions

Education or Certifications

The majority of data science job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or engineering. Experience with programming languages, managing databases, or other big data functions will also be helpful in landing a role as a data scientist.

To master these skills and gain experience, candidates should explore certifications in data science. These certifications are also vastly helpful in advancing an existing career in data science to the next level.

RELATED: 8 Must-Have Data Analytics Certifications for 2023

Data Scientist Salary

The average annual pay for a data scientist is $126,899, which comprises of $105,004 base pay and $22,895 additional pay. Of course, there is room for this to fluctuate, depending on industry, location, and level of experience or number of certifications.

Ready to be a Data Scientist?

If you’re interested in a career in data science, we hope this resource can help you get started!

And if you’re already in the field of data science but looking for your next opportunity, head over to the Insight Global job board, where you will find thousands of listings!

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