Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. When those words from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” were first published in 1798, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge described a story of a sailor who had returned from a long sea voyage, what was gained and what was lost on the […]
As the amount of data in healthcare continues to grow, data scientists are working to create solutions that address complex problems in healthcare. We are joined by Kevin Petrie, a technology evangelist at Attunity who has worked on solving problems inside and outside of healthcare with data scientists . Kevin joins us to talk about […]
Data science has lost none of its cachet in recent years; companies all over the world very much need data scientists to crunch enormous datasets and provide insights. Job opportunities abound. But does that demand actually make it harder for a tech pro to land a data-science job?
Hilary Mason, a data scientist and founding CEO of New York City-based Fast Forward Labs, sees “a ton of people asking for data scientists.” Her company’s newsletter has likewise experienced an increase in job postings.
Large corporations such as Ford Motor Co. have also “increased the number of data scientists we hire,” according to Laura Kurtz, the auto-giant’s manager of recruiting. “We recently created a new data analytics group to understand and make better use of them.” Ford relies on data scientists for everything from human resources (to develop better strategic workforce plans) to manufacturing (to study process efficiencies and throughput). The company is hiring data workers from across the whole experience spectrum, including recent college graduates.
But not every company is hungry for more data scientists. Kaggle.com, which organizes data-science competitions and jobs, recently cut seven of its approximately 20 jobs. (Despite its shrinking staff, the firm still runs dozens of contests, some with pretty significant payouts; that’s in addition to posting newsworthy datasets such as Hillary Clinton’s email collection, stored in a SQL database.)
Kaggle isn’t alone in the data-competition department: DrivenData currently runs seven different data science contests, most of which focus on improving conditions in far-flung parts of the globe. Texata.com offers an annual Big Data business-world championship, specifically designed for college students. Numerous hackathons make use of data-science techniques, as well.
If you want to enter this still-vibrant field and land a job, here are a few suggestions from the pros:
Understand What You’re Getting Into
Not all data science jobs are alike, and not all positions carry equal prominence at all companies. Dave Holtz, writing a post for online-learning site Udacity, has put together a great list of suggestions on how you can evaluate different job openings and company types.
His post also suggests eight different skills that you should have in your tool-kit, such as statistics, data visualization, and basic software engineering. Also on the list: advanced calculus and linear algebra.
Mason feels the hiring market has matured to the point where “companies are a bit more aware of what skills they actually need, rather than asking for the kitchen sink. Over the last few years, companies have gotten better at hiring data scientists, both in defining the skills they actually need and in interviewing and supporting data scientists once they join a team.”
If you’re interested in brushing up on your day-to-day data skills, look at some of the online tutorials at Datacamp.com, where you can find more practical exercises such as how to use R and Python scripting for large datasets.
Participate in a Contest
Another way to hone your skills is by participating in a data-science contest. Kaggle’s CTO has put together a list of suggestions on how to win such competitions. These include entering alone (rather than as part of a team), using some kind of data visualization tool, and doing frequent iterations on whatever solution you come up with. If you’re interested, take a look at the next GlobalHack contest, held in the fall in St. Louis, with a total purse of a million dollars in various prizes.
Look inside your own company to see if you can spearhead a data-science approach to some of your thorniest issues. “A number of companies get to the point where they have a lot of traffic (and an increasingly large amount of data),” said Udacity’s Holtz, “and they’re looking for someone to set up a lot of the data infrastructure that the company will need moving forward.” This could be the best opportunity; after all, you should already know your own business.
Despite an ever-increasing number of specializations within the Big Data space, there’s still an overwhelming need for traditional database analysts. Much of the current hiring is for junior and mid-range positions, so candidates can expect salaries anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 for starters.
According to Janine Davis, principal at Fetch Recruiting, “Database analysts have to straddle both hemispheres of their brains.” If you’re currently seeking work in the field, you may want to exercise your brain’s left hemisphere by engaging in all things SQL, and expand your right hemisphere by illuminating your interpersonal communication connectors.
Critical thinking, math skills and a commitment to details constitute the basic skill set necessary for the technical end of the database-analyst field, but true success involves using all these skills in concert to collect, organize, analyze, interpret and then transform the data found inside of an organization.
Whether your analysis goal is simple (collect customer-credit ratings) or complex (chart trends over an extended period of time), you can generally take these three steps in order to extrapolate that data:
Query by SQL: Some form of SQL will likely serve as your main tool, suggests Rob Byron, a partner in WinterWyman’s IT search group: “You want to be somewhat of a SQL guru and be able to write certain queries.”
As a baseline, he added, database analysts must at least have the ability to write detailed specifications for the data they want, which an engineer can subsequently retrieve.
ETLs Manipulate the Information: Database analysts transform, mold and bend the data found inside of an organization into new information. As a result, another essential skill is the ability to easily move and manipulate data. Tools such as SQL server’s SSIS and Oracle’s Data Integrator (ODI), as well as SAP Data Services and SAS Data Management, can help you accomplish this.
Interpret and Report Data: Once you’ve queried and manipulated the data, you’ll need to deliver a report. Know your reporting tools. Byron thinks a lot of analysts can get away with using Excel as a data-dump; for those who want more advanced platforms, however, there’s Tableau, Spotfire, Crystal Reports, SQL Server Reporting Services, SAS and more.
Don’t Forget Soft Skills: “The right hemisphere [of the brain] provides the special sauce that takes the bits and bytes and turns it into actionable information to drive a business,” Davis said, adding that a great database analyst “needs to understand what makes a business tick, and in turn what data will contribute to the best ticking possible.”
Byron also noted that, if you look at job descriptions for database analysts, most mention a business-facing role, which means meeting with users “and understanding what their pain is.” That means a need for good verbal and written-communication skills. While speaking with non-technical people about data, it’s imperative that an analyst knows the audience, and translates any professional jargon into plain English.
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Companies need solid teams if they’re going to build environments to take advantage of Big Data , and what a given company looks for in candidates depends on its specific data needs. If you’re looking to jump in or upgrade, the possibilities for the next 12-18 months may seem limitless. “First and foremost, any skill in the database arena is really, really strong right now and demand for professionals in this space is very high,” says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology . The reason: Between business intelligence , Big Data and rapidly expanding data sets, as well as the need to use that data to create better business decisions and dashboards, companies are scrambling to hire experienced technologists. Click here for Oracle DBA jobs. And because demand is go great, employers aren’t focusing on many specific skills when it comes to staffing up for their platform. For example, Reed says, requests for Oracle RAC knowledge are no greater than for any other in the data arena. “It’s all riding the wave right now,” he explains. “Everybody is investing in trying to maximize what they’re doing with data and virtualization and cloud computing . If you’re conversant with Oracle RAC, you’re going to ride that wave, too. Demand doesn’t outpace the other skills sets because they’re equally strong.” That being said, Reed’s noticed a more common need for Oracle solutions in certain high transaction verticals such as financial institutions and healthcare organizations. Overall, the requests for specialized skills sets that stand out for Reed are in virtualization software like VMware . “Having aptitude in those technologies can make the job search of an Oracle DBA a lot easier,” he says. Related Stories Increasing Demand for Oracle DBAs Sample Resume: Database Administrator EMC’s Joe Tucci Forecasts Future for DBAs Image: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com The post Do You Need an Oracle Database Specialization? appeared first on Dice News .
“There has been an increase in demand for data architects ,” says Rob Byron, a principal consultant in WinterWyman’s Boston-based IT Search Division. Data provides knowledge and power to any company that knows how to harness it, and lately organizations have been pushing not only to capture all the data they can, but to understand how to leverage that information in a way that’s meaningful to their business. Consequently, data architects have become the critical link between business and technology. “That’s where the big boom in business intelligence is starting to happen,” says Byron. “It’s now a big piece of the data architect role.” Architects are expected to understand all elements of databases, and also ensure that a company’s technology group has a complete understanding of what the business actually needs. What Employers Are Looking For The data architect should be a technologist, a mediator/liaison and a data strategist. Per Byron, clients are looking for professionals who can evangelize best practices and good data practices to the technology team. They must also be able to socialize those practices within the business. Whether it’s the CEO, marketing or operations, the data architect must be able to understand each of the business’s variants and work with disparate teams to make sure information is organized precisely and in a way that’s actually useful to their employer. “The data has to be structured in a certain way,” says Byron. “The data layer has to be laid out correctly. These people not only have to be technically strong, they have to be able to interface with the business at a high level.” Base Knowledge The in-demand skill set still includes being conversant in traditional data-modeling tools both physical and logical, such as ERwin , PowerDesigner , ETL , Oracle and SQL Server Database . Even if the architect isn’t going to be hands-on, they must be able to develop a proof of concept, set the framework and communicate with the team who’s doing the final building. Big Data is Here Byron says the buzz around Big Data is getting louder. He notes that tools that were used in the past aren’t going work with cutting edge companies that are using massively parallel processing (MPP) databases. “There are NoSQL types of databases that are out there and we’re starting to see more requirements for MongoDB or Hadoop . The architect need not be an expert, but they must be able to build a proof of concept, evaluate the situation and work with selecting the right vendor when it’s time to turn the project over to the builders.” The post Demand for Data Architects Keeps Rising appeared first on Dice News .
It’s a continuing complaint: Employers who need skilled IT professionals say they can’t find people to fill their open jobs. But job seekers say it’s getting harder and harder to find a job. Why the disconnect? The unemployment rate in technology seems to underscore the employers’ arguments that there’s more demand than supply. During the fourth quarter of 2013, the rate dropped to 3.5 percent from 3.9 percent, according to Dice’s Q4 Tech Trends Report . That compares to a national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in December. Skills in Demand The biggest issue is that there are just not enough people with the “right” skills, says Rob Reeves, CEO and president of Redfish Technology , a recruitment firm specializing in IT. Given the shifting tides in technology and the peaks and valleys of specific needs, even those with significant experience can find it difficult to get a job, he notes. “You have a certain need for a certain position at a certain time,” he says. That dynamic can leave some professionals out in the cold. The best advice for job seekers is to keep up on the shifts in IT. “There are breakthroughs and game changers,” observes Reeves, who points to examples like Java , security , the cloud , Big Data and mobile . Such skills are so coveted that supply and demand simply won’t match up at some point. Plus, employers want experience, but with new technologies there aren’t enough people available who’ve got it. Another factor: There are some positions an organization simply can’t do without. According to Reeves, that’s just what’s happening with front-end developers , full stack developers and DevOps engineers . Tough Specifications Nowadays, employers are even more exacting in what they want. When their job descriptions reflect that, prospective employees get discouraged from even applying. “Our job descriptions are certainly specific in terms of the technical requirements that our clients are seeking,” says Sophia Navickas, vice president of the search firm Lynx. “However, within broad categories, accomplished engineers can be considered if they have some subset of the required skills and have the ability to demonstrate their ability to come up to speed quickly.” As frustrating as this is for many, it’s good news for some. Those with the right skills are seeing bumps in salary, a trend that’s expected to continue. Average U.S. tech salaries rose to $87,811 in 2013 from $85,619 during 2012, according to the latest Dice Salary Survey . And employers are rewarding those with the needed experience and certifications at much higher rates. “The tech market hasn’t slowed down,” says Reeves. “It’s simply changed. In January, we had one of the biggest months, and last year was good, too. We see companies with multiple openings. The pendulum is on the candidate’s side — if you have the right skills, of course.” The post Employers Say This is Why You’re Not Getting Hired appeared first on Dice News .