Expert Speaks: What Does A Career In Data Science Has In Store For You

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Data today is generated at every second, exponentially. Without data, the world will be like an empty plate feeding the hungry. Every business today, big or small, relies on data to improve and expand its reach as well as profits. Every company now has an online presence because it’s the easiest and quickest way to reach existing, new as well as potential customers.

Research and data have always been the primary sources of customer understanding for businesses. Times before technology made data collection a lengthy and tedious process. However, the bliss of technology has made it a piece of cake for all. Besides, social media is a large contributor to big data available in the world today. 

You, I and every other individual generates data that the companies collect, analyze, interpret and then use it, to the best of their ability for theirs as well as our benefit. However, it is important to understand that even though there is a torrential production of data, for companies to be able to use it, it is important to have a sound understanding of data and the right skills and qualifications to know how to use it. That is what data science is. 

Data Science is a profession that deals with studying huge volumes of data using modern high-tech tools and methods to analyze and interpret data based on few common factors such as identifying unseen patterns, decoding important information based on people’s browsing behaviours, predicting future trends and occurrences based on data at hand, and helping businesses make crucial decisions accordingly. 

Even though the entrance of Data Science into the academic world, especially at the university level, has been fairly new, some 5-10 years old, many youngsters are realizing the value it can add to their careers.  

We asked Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta, Director, Bachelor of Data Science, SP Jain School of Global Management, about who all can pursue a degree as well as a career in Data Science. He said, “Anyone with an interest in mathematics-statistics can pursue a career in data science. Any student who has studied high-school mathematics is eligible.” 

He further stated that one will require an undergraduate degree in any of the STEM fileds (eg data science/computer science/mathematics/statistics/economics/physics or an engineers’ degree). This is a basic requirement. However, for a successful application, one also must have a decent profile on Kaggle, Git and a good understanding of algorithms and the mathematics driving those algorithms)

Besides the technical requirements, we also asked him about the need of interpersonal skills required to hold a job in the field of Data Science. To this, he responded, “since data science is a collaborative and inter-disciplinary subject, a professional is expected to collaborate with other team members, and therefore emotional intelligence requirements are high apart from the ability to work with multi-lingual and multi-cultural team members.”

There are many students who prefer to take a gap after completing their undergraduate degree to gain some work experience. Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta, however, suggested, “A student is better off starting his master’s program immediately after his/her undergraduate degree. There is no extra benefit of having work experience for successful graduate admission. I would students to immediately start with their graduate program right after the undergraduate program. This will help students to seek higher-level salaries and position in a company which might take a minimum of 3 years to achieve with an undergraduate degree.”

He also advised those willing to pursue a career in the field to opt for a proper master’s degree. “A certificate course cannot be compared with a master’s degree. While a certificate course equips a student with one or two specific skills, it definitely lacks the academic rigour, recognition, acceptability of a master’s degree. Traditionally a master’s degree will take more time to complete and would require a student to write exams, submit assignments, projects and final thesis as part of coursework which is normally not a requirement in a certificate course,” said Dr. Dasgupta. 

Throwing more light on the benefits of pursuing a master’s degree, Dr. Dasgupta mentioned that the course will have much deeper teaching and will involve around 12-16 subjects covering deeper and more advanced areas including the current state of the art research in artificial intelligence, optimization, distributed computing and large scale systems etc. 

After successfully graduating with a master’s degree, students can take up jobs at any corporate, government, research labs, and/or non-profit organization. There are several job openings for freshers as entry-level scientists/engineers in the data science area in any country across the world. A career in Data Science not just promises a rich upward-moving career trajectory but also higher returns in terms of salary. 

As informed by Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta, in India, a fresh graduate’s salary will range somewhere between Rs 8-16 lacs, in Australia, it is about A$50,000 – A$100,000, and in the United States, it is about US$80,000 – US$140,000. 

There are multiple career options within the field of Data Science that students can explore after their successful completion of the qualification. 

  • Machine Learning Engineer/scientist
  • Computer Vision Engineer/scientist, 
  • NLP (Natural Language Process) Engineer/scientist
  • Big Data Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • MIS Specialist
  • Consultant 
  • Software Engineer

These are some of the career options that fresh graduates can choose from. 

When asked about an alternative to Data Science, Dr. Dasgupta said, “A degree in statistics/mathematics/computer science is the nearest alternative degree in data science to pursue an entry-level career as a data scientist. The issue here is, with a degree in mathematics or statistics, one would probably not have the skillsets in say coding, whereas with a degree in computer science, one would not have enough foundation of say stats-maths. Hence, it is better to study data science at an undergrad level, right away, since the programs cover both the spectrums of stats-maths and computer science.

*All the insights on a career in Data Science are shared by Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta, Director, Bachelor of Data Science, SP Jain School of Global Management

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