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Most Exciting Career of the 21st Century: The Data Scientist Shortage

February 23, 2017

The supply of information stored digitally and accessible to web users worldwide currently amounts to around 4.4 Zettabytes or 4.4 Trillion Gigabytes. Of that information, most of it was produced in the last 2 years; more than has been produced since the beginning of recorded information from worldwide civilizations. Statistics like these point to a promising career in data science for anyone with the skills and interest to pursue this field in the 21st Century, whether one wishes to start from the first year of university or redirect his or her track midway. Given the current employment crisis featured below, even individuals who have pursued programming and technical programs at high school could be thrust into more demanding positions in the work place.

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Most Exciting Career of the 21st Century: The Data Scientist Shortage

Data Scientist Shortage

Numerous universities have ceased offering data science programs and those still available are usually offered only to graduate students. In the meantime, demand has far outstripped supply. It is estimated that tens of thousands of jobs are now currently available and more will open up every year, with no sign that need will be met according to current data. When discussing the job opportunities most likely to open up in the next three years, few can compete with data science.

Understanding the Need

Scientists explain information storage to laymen in terms of letters and books. One Byte equates to a single letter of the alphabet. A Megabyte would resemble one book and a collection of 1,600 books is likened to a Gigabyte’s worth of data. Multiply those shelves to produce a Terabyte, but only at the level of Petabyte does this become a full library. An Exabyte or about 1,024 Petabytes equals an enormous national library of information. In this scientific realm, Bytes, Megabytes, etc. are categorized as multiples of 1,024.

Cheaply Made, Easily Available

Early in history, books and writers were revered. Creating a book cost enormous sums of money. Only special information was recorded owing to the expense and time-consuming nature of publication while few people could have read this data. Even now, publishing a book and buying it full-price is an expensive prospect, which is why e-books have gained in popularity.

Storing information digitally is inexpensive and accessible. Almost anyone can upload an article, write a long-term blog, post an image, or upload a video with no code-writing skill, thanks to media such as WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter. Estimates show that every hour more than 10 million new photographs are added to Facebook alone. Twitter receives over 400 million tweets every day. Back in the year 2000, only 25% of data was available digitally. Now, just 2% is not uploaded in this manner. More and more data will be stored on the Cloud; a virtual realm in which there are virtually no limits to storage.

Adding Data Rapidly

By providing information to the worldwide web so quickly, consumers across the globe ensure that the amount of available data is rising faster than computer processing speeds or the world’s economy are increasing. Data production outstrips the world economy by four times; computer processing speed by nine times. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of skilled professionals to manage and analyze data.

In the Professional World

Companies are placing more emphasis on their need for data scientists as they expose the lack of talent in the United States. Only one third of US talent was born in the United States. Companies are unable to find qualified individuals and postings go unanswered. More than 40% of companies believe their lack of data scientists is hindering their ability to compete and over 60% of businesses train their staff in-house, even if they do not possess university degrees. In other words, those firms where qualified individuals find work perform more strongly in their given markets and innovation is within their reach.

In the Academic Realm

Previously, one had to posses a graduate degree such as a Master’s or PhD in some related field before being offered the chance to study data science. Undergraduates could not leave university and walk into a data science job. This academic policy has left a gap so wide that statisticians estimate up to 5 million jobs will become available by 2018 around the globe. Just six of 29 universities, which teach associated subjects currently, offer courses to undergraduates. Those classes are comprised of just 23 students; not enough to meet estimated demands. Salaries will grow by almost three times for those who undertake a career in data science and management positions will be more financially tempting. Employment and wealth beckon individuals skilled and talented in their discipline, but they will also need to keep up with constant challenges.

Skills of a Data Scientist

Students who would be successful and deemed qualified to tackle further studies in this discipline understand multi-variable calculus and linear algebra. They are skilled with statistics, machine learning, and database languages. Their interests include programming languages such as R and Python, and they are interested in topics like data mining and software engineering. Extra skills could include business acumen, problem solving, analytics, confidence communicating in written and verbal forms, plus an intellectual curiosity towards this subject and where it could go in the future. Applicants who possess the technical skills are so coveted that firms will teach them anything they lack in the other areas. One must be well-rounded as a student and a person to excel.

Employment in the United States

Projections regarding employment prospects for talented individuals refer to worldwide numbers. They indicate that a person showing intelligence and innovation in this field could live and work virtually anywhere on the planet. That idea alone is highly appealing to many young students who do not yet have homes and families to think of and are well situated to live out dreams of living overseas. Within the USA, however, there is still plenty of opportunity. In order to attract more domestic talent and to fill those estimated 490,000 jobs, universities will have to start offering more of the programs which were cut in past years and they will have to do so quickly to meet demand. At the current rate, only 200,000 American openings will be filled by 2020.

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