A Mad ScientistLarge enterprises are eager to find smart people who possess a mix of business, analytics and IT skills -- otherwise known as data scientists -- to handle the challenges of Big Data. The compensation can be compelling. Recruiters say data scientists can earn an average of $110,000 to $140,000 annually. That's more than the average Silicon Valley tech worker, who brings home a paycheck of $104,195.

What it Takes to be 'baIT'

The key is to have those three skills taken together -- business, analytics, and IT, or "baIT." The thinking behind the specialty is this: Companies that try to analyze big data by using statisticians, computer scientists and MBAs, who don’t normally work together, risk missing the big picture that can only be seen when multiple viewpoints come together simultaneously. As a result, if you only have one of the skills in the mix, a company has to seek the others as well, says Laura Kelley, Houston vice president for IT staffing and consulting firm Modis. She lays it out this way:
  • If you're an MBA, start identifying certifications you'll need, such as in a statistical software program. Don't get a generic computer science degree; narrow down your focus.
  • If you're in computer science, consider getting an MBA. Being able to understand the business  and communicate well is an essential part of data science. Also, get certified in relevant business intelligence and analytics software.
  • If you're a statistician or quantitative analysis specialist, dip into both computer science - natural language processing and machine learning - and business communications training.

Groupon, Google Data Scientist Requirements

At Groupon, data scientist qualifications include:
Ph.D. in data mining, machine learning, statistical analysis, applied mathematics or equivalent; three-plus years hands-on practical experience with large-scale data analysis; and fluency in analytical tools such as SAS, R, etc.
At Google, qualifications include:
M.S. or Ph.D. in statistics or related field; four years relevant work experience; substantial real-world experience, especially in areas such as data; ability to draw conclusions from data and recommend actions.
It turns out that data scientists are in such demand that schools are setting up data-centric business programs to address the need. The competition will be heating up.

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