How to start a career in data science
Data science can be a lucrative career path, with plenty of opportunities to forge your way up the ladder. In order to get there, however, first you have to start at the bottom. Here’s how to take the first steps along that path.
Get an education
You won’t be able to get a job in data science if you can’t demonstrate the skills that employers want. Some of the skills that you will want to learn include statistics, applied mathematics, the ability to test hypotheses with your own experiments, programming, and communication. As far as the programming goes, the languages that you will need to learn include SQL, R, Python, SPSS, Hadoop, and Tableau. In order to gain these things, you can go on a variety of courses and even self-teach.
As well as the skills noted above, you will need qualifications that prove your knowledge. A degree in mathematics, statistics, information technology, operations research, or economics would be a good starting point. You may also want to move forward into a PhD in similar fields. This is not strictly essential, but will probably help when it comes to the job interviews. If you don’t want to do a PhD but you do want to go into data science, you could use online courses or even attend a bootcamp to get some more learning under your belt.
It’s important to get some experience even if you don’t have a job yet. While universities may offer projects for you to work on, those who are self-taught will need to find their own. You can go freelance and find small businesses or start-ups which need your skills on a temporary basis. The more work you do, even if it’s not for a full-time job, the more you will be able to put on your resume. If you’re having trouble, you may want to find a mentor who is already successful within the industry. Not only will they have all of the advice, but they may also be able to leverage connections to get you smaller projects while you learn.
Make sure that you are applying for the right roles: don’t get confused by terms such as data engineer or data analyst. These may be similar and related, but they aren’t the jobs that you want to go for. Data engineers use more of their engineering skills, analysts are using communication and domain knowledge more, and you as a data scientist will be using mathematics and statistics. Look on job boards to find the roles that are available and relevant to you. If you can’t find anything in your area, consider looking further afield. Data science roles often come with hefty salaries and you may be able to justify, or even offset, the cost of relocation.
Do your research
When applying to work at a company, make sure that you look into them as much as possible. Being forearmed with knowledge will really help to ace that interview, showing that you understand what is required of you even despite your lack of experience. Once you get that first entry level role, it’s all about working hard, building experience, and gaining promotions to get to those higher salaries.
Data science is regarded as one of the most rewarding fields of work out there at the moment, so it’s great work if you can get it. With these tips, you should be able to make that dream a reality!