According to a recent survey by EMC, 9% of Data Science professionals have a Doctoral Degree, 31% have a Master’s Degree and 27% an Undergraduate Degree. This rather blows out of the water the myth that all Data Scientists have to have a Ph.D.

Over the next five years, 63% of relevant organizations believe that demand for talent will outstrip supply. So, where are these professionals going to come from? As a Data Science recruiter, I would like to outline four of the main routes into the industry.

It ‘s true to say that the leading Data Science professionals are frighteningly intelligent Ph.D qualified Masters of the Universe. They have been at the cutting edge of this fast developing industry for the last few years. They have increasingly large and complex teams around them, many of whom have done Masters in Data Science or Computing, but as the years go by yet more are entering the industry from other routes. Vast increases in technology are opening up Data Science to a wider audience.

Here are four options if you don’t have (or want) a Ph.D.

Undergraduate Degree + Experience (Standard)

You might have a degree in Statistics, Mathematics or Computer Sciences, but depending on which of the four Data Science verticals that you will be working in (Data Businesspeople, Data Creatives, Data Developers or Data Researchers), a business degree or MBA may also be a route to entry. This is often enough for entry-level Data Science roles depending on your background and experience. However, many prefer one of the following three options in addition.

MOOC Data Science Courses: 6-18 months part time, Free – $1k

There are good quality specialized courses for a broad appreciation of the subject, and they are providing a route into the industry. For example, the Johns Hopkins University “Data Science” course can be found on Coursera. It is difficult to juggle a job with regular classes, and you miss the interactive collaboration with other students, but it is a low-cost and low-risk option with minimum disruption to the current career.

Data Science Bootcamp: 2-3 months, $1k-$14k

Bootcamps base their learning around completing practical projects with other students, whilst also learning the theoretical background. There is the same collaboration and teamwork aspect as with a Master’s Degree, but for a fraction of the price. This is sometimes the preferred route into Data Science for Senior Management level professionals.

Master’s Degree: 9-20 months, $20k-$70k

A Data Science Master’s Degree is the preferred route into the industry, although it is far from essential. It offers an excellent theoretical background plus good amounts of practical experience over an extended period.

It is important to remember that the current leaders within Data Science have “learnt on the job.” They have created an entirely new industry and although “Data Scientist” is a rather vague title, to work in an ever technologically led industry does not require years of scientific research under your belt.

A good theoretical background from a quality MOOC, Bootcamp or ideally Master’s degree, plus a few years of practical experience will set you well on your way.

290662AMatt Reaney is the Founder and Director at Big Cloud. Big Cloud is a talent search firm focussing on all things Big Data and helps innovative organisations across Europe, APAC and the US find the talent they need to grow.


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