Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently crowned Data Scientist as The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century, but what is a data scientist and what exactly do they do?
The term was coined in 2008, by Harvard Business Review’s D.J. Patil, and Jeff Hammerbacher, then the respective leads of data and analytics efforts at LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s a fledgling field which in the last decade, has morphed into an unstoppable juggernaut.
Companies are now wrestling with huge amounts of information in varieties and volumes never encountered before, creating a whole new field of opportunity for professionals to sift through, analyse and organise. Data scientists are high-ranking professionals equipped with the training and curiosity needed to make discoveries in the, at times daunting, world of big data.
HBR reviews call the data scientist a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator and trusted adviser, calling the combination extremely powerful, and rare. The proof is in the pudding on that one; for two years in a row, Glassdoor has ranked data scientist the top career in the US, based on salary, number of job openings and job satisfaction.
It’s a particularly lucrative career option. When PayScale released their College Salary Report 2017-2018 to analyse the highest-paying Bachelor degrees by salary potential, a Bachelor in ‘Computer Science (CS) & Engineering’ was demonstrated to have an average starting salary of US$70,900 (£55,632). If you have an interest in the world of tech, a keen mind for analysis and communication of information, data science could certainly be for you.
The tech world has boomed in the last ten years, so data science departments have been cropping up at universities worldwide. They allow students to grab the digital nature of our lives head on, and carve out unprecedented career paths in new and exciting fields.
With so many universities now offering undergraduate and postgraduate variations of data science courses, it can be difficult to choose the right institution for you. To make it easier, we’ve chosen four of the best that can help you thrive:
The Data Science Institute at Columbia University offers educational opportunities at all levels; from undergraduate to advanced training for postdoctoral fellows. The Institute provides a highly interdisciplinary, collaborative environment and features a world-class faculty and research facilities in the exciting, cosmopolitan setting of New York City.
In 2018, the Institute welcomed its inaugural class of postdoctoral fellows – data scientists from all over the world who have come to apply the techniques of computer science, machine learning and statistics to society’s complex issues, be they in the natural or life sciences, the social sciences, or law, business, media or the arts and humanities.
The current cohort of DSI postdoctoral fellows are promoting the Institute’s guiding principle of using “data for good”: from improving cancer diagnoses, to dealing with anxiety and depression, to understanding the American electorate. Postdocs studying here, at Columbia University, will engage in interdisciplinary and data-driven research that builds innovative solutions to societal problems.
Learn more about Institute’s programme for postdoctoral fellows and see whether Columbia might be the right place for you to practice “data for good.”
At Berkeley, the rapidly increasing importance of data-intensive and data-driven approaches has led to the establishment of a number of new programmes, most recently the RISE Lab, the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, and a new Division of Data Sciences.
As the world becomes ever more digital, new approaches to aggregating and analysing data are bringing huge benefits to fields as diverse as healthcare, astrophysics, genetics, business and public policy. Researchers in the Division of Data Sciences at Berkeley lead the way in a field that’s accelerating scientific discovery across many areas.
The division offers a plethora of courses, from ‘Foundations of Data Science’ to ‘Data Science for Cognitive Neuroscience’, ‘Python for Earth Science’ to ‘Immigration: What Do the Data Tell Us?’. So, at Berkeley you will be able to explore your options and find your niche within the field of data science.
Not only this but UC Berkeley is a great place to propel your career to the world-leading tech hub of Silicon Valley, under an hour’s drive from the university campus, Silicon Valley hires more alumni from University of California, Berkeley, than any other school, according to a new analysis from online recruiting company, HiringSolved.
The Data Science Institute (DSI) at Imperial sees this subject as the core of all modern transdisciplinary scientific activities, involving the whole cycle of data, from acquisition and exploration to analysis and communication of the results. Not only this, but data science is also about extracting value from data and translating it from asset to product.
The Data Science Institute at Imperial College London was launched on 1st April 2014, aiming to enhance Imperial’s excellence in data-driven research across its faculties, while exploring the multidisciplinary applications of the discipline.
Highlights of the DSI’s activities, which you could get involved with, includes ‘Distinguished Speaker’ lectures, which have previously involved Professor Viktor Mayer Schönberger of the Oxford Internet Institute, author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think, as well as renowned data mining expert, Dr Usama Fayyad – Chief Data Officer of Barclays Bank.
With the opportunity to listen to such distinguished professionals in the field, whilst studying in the UK’s vibrant capital and accessing it’s growing tech scene, Imperial might be the perfect place to kick-start your data science career.
Monash University, located in Melbourne, is home to Australia’s most comprehensive and respected Data Science faculty. Here, you can develop your skills in the analytic, organisational and computational aspects of data, whilst gaining hands-on experience with state-of-art tools.
The Centre for Data Science is led by Professor Geoff Webb, internationally-recognised expert and the Programme Chair of the KDD 2015 Conference – Sydney’s premier academic event for knowledge discovery and data mining.
Monash University is also the largest academic Digital Curation & Social Informatics group in the Asia Pacific region, most recently hosting the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), whose purpose is to make Australia’s research data assets more valuable for researchers, research institutions and the nation.
So, why not choose a course with Australia’s leading faculty of Data Science, in the world’s most liveable city?
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International