What does it mean to be a data scientist?

Find out what a data scientist does, and how you can become one – including the qualifications and additional skills you need.

A data scientist is – put simply – an expert in the analysis of data through the utilisation of various scientific methods, algorithms, processes, and techniques – which are applicable across a broad and varied range of data fields and areas of study.

An ever-developing and continually advancing interdisciplinary field, the profession of data science is – without a doubt – becoming increasingly popular among many students and intelligent young minds. 

To become a data scientist, a student must undertake the relevant tertiary course (or even multiple courses) at a reputable university or educational institution – through which they can be taught, trained, educated, and finally, be enabled to become fully qualified in performing data science and analysis in a professional capacity.

The study of a data science tertiary degree can be completed via the traditional method: that is, by attending in-person, on-campus, and face-to-face tutorials, lectures, and seminars at the student’s preferred tertiary education facility.

Alternatively, students aspiring to become data scientists can also choose to become qualified in the field with an online Master of Data Science – which does not require students to attend the in-person lessons that are delivered on campus. 

Needless to say, studying online undoubtedly saves students a considerable amount of time and effort by removing the need to commute to a university campus, and it enables students to access study resources at any time via an online student portal.

Online study also allows students to effectively and efficiently fit their studies into a potentially already busy lifestyle or schedule – or even to work around and correspond with professional commitments, as well as other personal engagements.

Undertaking an online education course delivery method also enables students to study when, where and how it suits them best – making it the most convenient, effective, and efficient way to study for many students.

What does a data scientist do?

The role of a data scientist, on its face, may not seem particularly new given the decades of analytical data that have governed many significant businesses and governmental decisions in recent history. However, as technology and data become more complex and more required by companies looking to get an edge over their competitors, more specialised variants of these data analysis skillsets are required to interpret and make new connections utilising this information.

This is where the role of data science as a field sits, as a meeting point between technical understanding and creative decision making. A data scientist takes the role of interpreter for many businesses, taking the work of statisticians and data analysts and converting it into meaningful, actionable work that can provide organisations with data-backed direction on how they should proceed with everything from new ways to promote productivity to new ways for the business to increase profits.

Naturally, there are several fundamental technical skills, knowledge, and learnings a student of data science needs to successfully obtain and acquire through their tertiary university studies, to become and be considered adequately qualified to perform as a fully-fledged, professional data scientist.

What draws people to data science as a career?

The attraction and benefits of being professionally qualified in the field of data science are abundant. For one, it is a lucrative and notoriously well-paid industry profession – with the annual salary and wages of an Australian data scientist at the top of their field often being more than $160,000 Australian per annum – particularly if they hold a Master’s Degree qualification in data science.

Even students holding only a Bachelor’s degree in data science can also reach an annual salary averaging around $98,000 AUD – which undoubtedly isn’t an entry-level salary to sneeze at! 

Career progression opportunities are also abundant for students of data science. This is especially true in the areas of Information Technology (IT) data analysis and computer science, which are arguably the most important areas of study and professional advancement in our modern business landscape.

There is no doubt that data science is becoming one of the most important, sought-after, and well-respected professions, given our growing reliance on technology and analytic-driven insights, and this will only continue to develop as we move forward into the future. As such, it makes sense that many gifted and ambitious students choose to pursue a professional career in data science.

What additional skills will be required to succeed in data science?

As with most academic fields, data science does not exist within a vacuum. Rather, it is an amalgamation of various different fields, each providing its own skillsets and each allowing you insights into a different facet of the data scientist mindset. According to the job acquisition website Seek, there are, in fact, a number of skills that are consistently requested or preferred by those hiring data scientists, including:

  • Machine learning
  • Python programming
  • Tensorflow software
  • Statistical modelling
  • Mathematics

While this is not a complete list, it should give you a solid understanding of the type of education required by those looking to acquire high-level positions in the data science field. That said, many of these areas of knowledge will be covered within a Master of data science course, but it does pay to also look into personal education at the same time to ensure that your skills remain marketable.

How can you get qualified to become a data scientist?

Needless to say, successful data scientists possess a high level of tertiary education. Of course, a Bachelor’s Degree in data science is an ideal first step in pursuing a career in this field. However, for students who are admittedly more ambitious, a Masters in data science will take them even further.

Studying and becoming qualified in data science and analysis is no easy feat, and students must be diligent, hard-working, intelligent, and naturally gifted in mathematics – as well having a keen eye for detail, a curious nature, and of course, a natural penchant for the analysis of data.

With all this said, there are other courses that can benefit those looking to eventually complete their Master’s Degree in the field of data science. These include:

  • Computer science
  • IT (Information Technology)
  • Statistics
  • Advanced mathematics

As previously discussed, the role of a data scientist is one that encapsulates many different fields and forms of technical data research. Therefore, by having a strong background in statistical analysis and computer science, you are allowing yourself a far better framework for many of the tasks that will be required in your future positions.

Data science is a complex field and one that will appeal to people primarily driven by mathematics and statistics. With that said, it’s also an incredibly varied field, and for those that are looking for a way to expand their skills, studying data science as a degree will provide a strong framework for the many other fields it is connected to, such as data analytics and mathematics. So, look into it for yourself, and see if the field of data science is right for you.