A search on Indeed shows 9,158 current openings for Data Scientist coming from employers like Netflix, The New York Times, Roche and others. In fact, Indeed itself is looking for a data scientist to focus on personalization efforts for its jobseeker database. Defense contractor Booz Allen alone has 30 current positions for data scientists, though none specify whether they’re part of the PRISM program.
So, what is a data scientist and what do they do?
That question is the focus of a new report from O’Reilly Strata called Analyzing the Analyzers. The report (free with registration) clusters data scientists into four groups, based on a survey of data scientists, focused on skills and career experiences. While there were some commonalities across those four categories, they were actually quite different from one another in many ways. The four categories the paper identifies are:
Data Businesspeople: while they have strong technical skills, data businesspeople are focused on using data to drive profits within an organization. They tend to be more senior and have an entrepreneurial focus.
Data Creatives tend to have substantial academic experience and excel at machine learning, big data and programming skills. Avid users of open source, Data Creatives tend to have broad-based skills, and can move from role to role more easily.
Data Developers tend to focus on the technical issues involved in managing data. They tend to be coders with strong programming and machine learning skills, with less of a focus on business or statistics.
Data Researchers typically come from the academic world and have deep backgrounds in statistics or the physical or social sciences. More than the other groups identified, Data Researchers frequently hold a PhD (more than half of those in the survey) and tend to have weaker sills in machine learning, programming or business.
The survey is fascinating and it's easy to think of people I know who clearly fit into one of these four buckets. So, if you’re thinking of recruiting a data scientist, before you start the process, think about what skills you really need. Is it a statistician, a coder, a technical business lead or a jack-of-all-trades?
The full paper is available from the O’Reilly Strata site.