What is a Data Scientist?

Why did Harvard call it the sexiest job of the 21st century?

By Sharon Vaz

9 April 2021

5 min read

Laptop hands coffee phone

Data scientist is a relatively new job description. They are analytical data experts who also have the technical skills to solve complex problems – as well as the curiosity to explore which other problems need to be solved.  The amount of data available is ever increasing (big data) and data scientists analyse this and produce reports to help stakeholders understand what is going on and what needs to be done. 

So what are the essential skills needed to be a data scientist?

  • Machine Learning.  

Working with big data means a data scientist needs to be able to implement algorithms and statistical models and enable a computer to automatically learn from the data.

  • Statistical analysis. 

They need to be able to extract huge volumes of unstructured data and then clean and interpret it - identifying patterns and working on a solution on how to use this data.

  • Computer science. 

They need to be able to work with AI & Database systems.  Not only gathering data, cleaning it, sorting it, also working out what’s missing 

  • Programming.

They need to be able to be comfortable writing code in a number of different languages (Eg Java, Python & SQL).They need clean data, discard any irrelevant information and prepare the data for processing. And to use this to provide answers to complex problems.

  • Problem solving

They have to be able to look for problems and solve these in a way that stakeholders can understand.  They also need to recommend cost effective solutions to any problems they encounter in existing procedures and strategies.

  • Communication Skills

Data scientists need to communicate to management and other IT departments, both verbally and written reports that each department can understand.

Soft Skills are also important for a data scientist. The main soft skills necessary for the role are:

  • Business savvy:

They need to connect with the business to gain a full understanding of the problems they’re looking to solve.

  • Analytical thinking.

They need to use their knowledge to find analytical solutions to business issues.

  • Critical thinking:

With so much data available they need to objectively analyze the facts before coming to a conclusion.

  • Inquisitiveness:

They need to be able to discover patterns and solutions within the data.

  • Interpersonal skills:

Communicate across all levels of an organization

At talent4gig we run coding challenges where you can: 

  • See how you compare on these skills if you want to be a data scientist
  • Analyse how your data scientists compare - internally or externally
  • Find candidates who have the data scientist skills you need for your team

Schedule a call with one of our product experts to find out more

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