How to Become a Data Scientist

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November 12, 2019

Now is a great time to become a data scientist, with more and more companies realising the advantage if you can use your customer data effectively.

It is also deemed as one of the top 10 bestjobs to have in the UK (in a recent report by Future Learn), with high levelsof job satisfaction reported and excellent salaries.

To give you an insight into the profession, Optalitix takes a look at everything you need to know about becoming a data scientist.

Keyresponsibilities as a data scientist

Data scientists add huge value to companies astheir main responsibilities usually involve:

  • Finding patterns in customer data, processes and transactions
  • Identifying issues in the company and using data to find effective solutions
  • Creating concise reports that add value to the firm
  • Using their expertise in machine learning and statistical techniques to provide business insights
  • Assessing how effective data sources are
  • Improving data collection methods
  • Testing data mining models, in order to determine which is best for a company project
  • Conducting research into proof of concepts and prototypes
  • Merging, extracting and managing data to create tailored reports for customers or other colleagues

Startingsalaries for a data scientist

The average starting salary for an entry leveldata salary is between £19,000 and £25,000 in the UK.

This amount increases over time once you gainexperience in the field and can rise from £30,000 all the way up to £50,00.

In some cases, highly experienced andestablished data scientists can command £60,000-£100,000 in total.

The salary amounts vary based on the industry that you are employed in. This is because typically if you worked for a start-up as a data scientist, you could have a lower salary than if you worked for an established tech or financial firm with a far bigger budget.

Location can also be another factor determining the salary you receive as a data scientist with London and San Francisco likely to command the highest salaries.

Qualifications needed to become a datascientist

  • University-level degree in computer science or mathematical based subject
  • Programming knowledge
  • Data science graduate training schemes available with large companies
  • Postgraduate qualification options

To get started on your path to becoming a datascientist, you will usually need a degree (many expect at least a 2:1 result)in a science-based subject. For example, a degree in computer science,mathematics, engineering, physics or operational research would all be usefuldegrees to have in this field.

Having in-depth knowledge of programming languages such as C+, Java and Python, as well as good coding skills will also be needed.

There are also some large firms who offer datascience graduate training schemes to people looking to become a datascientists. These mostly require you to have a degree in a science-basedsubject, and take two years to complete. The schemes tend to be highlycompetitive when it comes to getting a place.

Another option is getting a postgraduate qualification (such as a Masters or PhD) in data science. This could be particularly useful if you would like to learn analytical skills or if data science represents a change in career for you.

It is also worth noting that for a number ofdata scientists jobs, employers will specify that the advertised positionrequires a relevant Masters or PhD.

To get a place on a Masters or PhD course,many universities will require you to have a science-related degree. However,if you have programming experience, some may allow those who have graduated inbusiness, psychology and economics to take the course.

Skillsneeded to become a data scientist

If the idea of working in data scienceinterests you, it is important that you know you have the right skills for thejob before going further. Data scientists need to have:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Experience in tools for database interrogation and analysis such as SQL, SAS and Hadoop
  • Effective problem-solving skills
  • Strong communication skills to be able to explain your work to people in the company who may not understand data analytics
  • Able to deliver work under pressure
  • Strong listening skills to understand the needs of the company they are working for

Whoemploys data scientists in the UK?

The biggest employers of data scientists in the UK are usually in the retail, e-commerce, finance and of course, tech sectors.

At Optalitix, we have a number of data scientist as part of offering AI solutions for different companies.

One of the reasons for this is that these industries tend to have a stronger need to understand their target audience in order to develop their product and drive business.

However, we are increasingly seeing oil andgas, telecoms and transport employing data scientists. These sectors are usingbig data more and more in order to find out how they can improve sales oroperations.

It is also possible to find data scientists positions within universities and research institutes, governmental departments and even the NHS.

Dani Katz
Dani Katz
Founder Director

Dani’s actuarial experience and passion are key. He is a strong advocate of innovation, optimism and communication, both within the team and for the clients. Dani’s ability and experience with data ensure that we always maximise value and efficiency for every project, enabling us to unlock hidden value for the clients business.

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