6 Must-Have Skills You Need to Be a Data Scientist

6 Must-Have Skills You Need to Be a Data Scientist


August 6, 2020

Nowadays, with the vast amounts of data available in the world, companies across all industries are focusing on exploiting data for their competitive advantage. Hence, they realized that they need to hire more data scientists or provide their employees with data science skills.

A data scientist is an expert who is capable of extracting meaningful value from data and also manages the whole lifecycle of it. Data scientists also help to bridge the communication gap between business and IT functions, proposing meaningful measures, modeling the data, visualizing the output, sharing the technique, and automating the process.

Be a certified data analyst or data scientist? Learn the 6 must-have Data analyst skills: programming, ML, data wrangling, data visualization & statistics

The Definition of Data Science

Data Science is a set of fundamental principles that support and guide the principled extraction of information and knowledge from data. It is a combination of computer science, statistic, and information design.

The fundamental concept of data science is extracting valuable knowledge from data to solve business problems that can be treated systematically by following a process with reasonably well-defined stages.

Data-science results require careful consideration of the context in which they will be used in the relationship between the business problem and the analytics solution. This often can be decomposed into tractable subproblems via the framework of analyzing expected value. IT can be used to find informative data items from within a large body of data.

Difference Between Data Science and Data Analysis

A ‘Data Analyst’ focuses on the transfer and interpretation of data, past, and present, while a ‘Data Scientist’ focuses on summarizing data and provides forecasting based on patterns identified from past and current data.

The Main Responsibilities of Each Are Presented in These 3 Points:

Data Scientist

  1. Establishing models that allow for data-based decisions. Decisions can be difficult, e.g. blocking a page from rendering, or easy, e.g. assign a maliciousness score of a page used by people and systems.
  2. Doing experiments that try to explain the root causes of the observed activity.
  3. Exploring new opportunities in the form of products or features in the light of newly acquired data and insights, and permanently developing new algorithms to increase the value of data.

Data Analyst

  1. Answering complicated business questions through customized processes.
  2. Designing and applying new metrics on profiling poorly understood aspects of the business or product.
  3. Dealing with data quality mishaps, such as biases in data acquisition data gaps.

6 Must-Have Data Analyst Skills You Need to Be a Data Scientist

Basically, a data scientist incorporates advanced analytical approaches using sophisticated analytics and data visualization software or tools in order to discover patterns of the data. Here’s a breakdown of the key skills you need to learn to be a data analyst.

1. Programming:

Programming will most probably be your main focus in everyday work. It is one key ability that will separate you from a standard business analyst or statistician. At any point, your job will be to write programs to gather and scan data from various databases. Or you might need to you might code programs that run your data set on machine learning algorithms.

Therefore, you must be able to program well in more than one programming language and have a decent grasp of the commonly used data science libraries and packages. Python & R should be a sufficient starting point for programming languages thanks to their popularity and community support.

2. Statistics:

A data analyst has to have a basic understanding of statistics. Let’s look at an example, if your manager asks you to perform an A/B test, an understanding of statistics will make it easier for you to understand the data that you’ve gathered.

The main topics to familiarize yourself with our statistical tests, distributions, maximum likelihood estimators, and similar principles. A highly important aspect of your statistics knowledge is to understand when different techniques are valid to use as approaches in your work.

3. Mathematics:

As for Mathematics, understanding Algebra at the college level should be a sufficient requirement. To be more specific, you need to be able to make word problems out of mathematical expressions, solve equations and handle algebraic expressions, graph different types of functions and have insight on the relation between equations and their graphs.

4. Machine Learning:

Working with large portions of data renders Machine Learning a powerful tool that you can’t afford missing. It gives you the ability to make predictions and calculated decisions based on these data. You should be able to handle the most common machine learning algorithms, such as dimensionality reduction, and supervised/unsupervised techniques.

A few topics that are mostly used algorithms are neural networks, principal component analysis, support vector machines, and k-means clustering. An understanding of the theory and how to use these algorithms is needed. You also have to be familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of said algorithms, as well as when is the right situation to apply which of them.

5. Data Wrangling:

Manually collecting and refining data so it can be easily read and analyzed is not widely used or appreciated the technique. This technique is called “data wrangling” or “data munging” in the data science community.
Surely, it isn’t as sophisticated or advanced as using machine learning models, data wrangling is a task that can consume 50-80% data scientists’ time to perform.

So why is data wrangling needed? It’s not rare that the data available to analyze is going messy and difficult to handle. Hence, it’s really important to know how to manually process data imperfections.
This is more common at small companies or companies where the product is not data-related. Nevertheless, data wrangling is a core skill for data scientists no matter where you work.

6. Communication and Data Visualization:

It is not enough to only interpret and analyze the data, effectively communicating the results and findings is imperative, so that stakeholders can make well-informed business decisions.

Most stakeholders are not interested in technical details by which the analysis was carried out. This means that communicating technical and non-technical findings in a manner that is easily understandable is the goal.

Using data visualization tools could be a great help to achieve said goal, such tools like ggplot, matplotlib, seaborn and d3.js. Comprehending the principles behind visually encoding data and communicating information is vital for a successful presentation.

Learning Resources

Do you want to become a certified data analyst or data scientist?

We invite you to check out our Data Science courses for a structured program to help you learn the skills you’ll need: