How to get a job as a data scientist: What qualifications and skills you need and what employers expect

Data science remains a hot career choice in tech, with salaries starting at £30,000.

By By Scott Carey
Aug. 4, 2016


From a technical perspective, Castro says it is better to learn using open source technologies and skills, like Java, Hadoop and SparkML. This way "when the next technology buzzword arrives you will be ready. If you spend your days working with a proprietary technology with its own programming language and workflow, how transferable is that and how will that add value to your CV?"

Gary Damino, vice president of marketing at Couchbase, which hosts an annual Data Science Summit, said: "The two things you need to consider in hiring a data scientist are: how are you going to use them and how does their skill set match the use?"

For data scientists Damino wants to see "a programmer skill set backed by deep understanding of statistical regression metrics."

For data engineers, or "wrangling" as he calls it, they need to be "a database or spreadsheet ninja who can identify and build complicated data relationships and break them down into data segments that lend themselves to presentable views of relevant insights."

Data scientist perspective: Sandra Greiss

Asos data scientist Greiss's Linkedin profile summary is a single line: "I am not looking for a career move. Thanks!"

This is because she is approached by recruiters on the platform on a daily basis, often with badly prepared pitches. "It is pretty frustrating, it's a shame that I feel like they don't all make the effort to know the candidate well," she says.

When she graduated from Warwick University with a PhD in Astrophysics Greiss turned down an offer of triple her entry salary at ecommerce company Lyst to go and work in the finance sector because "I wasn't interested in the topic or the project so I wouldn't give it my best."

Even working at a startup like Lyst brought challenges though. "Finding a job wasn't as hard as I thought it would be but adapting to the industry was challenging. The terms people use in companies and even the coding style was different, in academia they want performance and speed but aren't as particular."

Skills gap

If you can master the skills of data science though the rewards are plentiful. According to Hired's 2016 Mind The Gap report, data scientists are being paid increasingly well as employers look to attract them away from traditional roles in financial services. Over the past 18 months salary offers for data scientists have risen by 29 percent. The only role that has increased more is security engineer, at 31 percent.

Elsewhere data engineers are generating a high degree of interest from businesses, with a 234 percent increase in interview requests over the past 18 months. Only UI and UX designers are more sought after.

The report was compiled by Hired's own data science team, who analysed data from 225 participating companies and 2,000 job seekers in the UK over the last 18 months.

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