What is Data Science?
Can I pursue Data Science if I am a sociologist or cell biologist?
Bottom line: Yes, if you like to use quantitative data to answer questions. “This variety [of educational backgrounds of data scientists] is reflected in the diversity of backgrounds of the Insight Fellows, with any given session being made of PhDs and postdocs from fields as varied as particle physics, neuroscience, biostatistics, and social psychology. As long as you are quantitatively minded, enjoy working with data, and have a curiosity that will lead you ask and answer important questions with data, you’ll have no problem making the leap out of academia into the field of data science.” -from the Insight Data Science blog
Who are data scientists and what do they do? This SAS article discusses the answer to both these questions as well as why you might want to be a data scientist. According to the Harvard Business Review, Data Scientist jobs are “the sexist job of the 21st century.“ Professionals in this industry come from a variety of fields and work is many different types of industries, according to this article by June Andrews on LinkedIN.
Learn more about the difference between data science and informatics in biomedical data, in this article from the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
What does a career in Data Science look like?
What skills do you need to be a data scientist and what types of jobs exist? Check out these articles to learn more:
- Udacity blog by Dave Holtz: “8 Skills You Need to Be a Data Scientist”
- Insight blog by Emily Thompson: “Academia to Industry: Data Science Myths and Truths”
- DataCamp article by Karlijn Willems: “The Data Science Industry: Who Does What (Infographic)”
- Forbes article by Rawn Shah: “Data Science Falls Into Many Roles”
- This article also discusses the salary ranges for different types of data scientist positions
An effort by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to train a biomedical data science workforce, called the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) training program, was created to bridge the gap between biomedical training and the increasing need for biomedical data science skills. Read more about their efforts in this PLoS Biology article.
What are some job titles for people who work in Data Science?
Big Data Engineer
- Analytics Specialist
- Intelligence Engineer
- Intelligence Solutions Architect
- Intelligence Specialist
- Visualization Developer
Data and Analytics Manager
How to transition into Data Science?
Check out these articles for tips for making the transition:
- Insight blog by Douglas Mason with Valerie Bisharat: “PhD to Data Scientist: 5 tips for making the transition”
- NatureJobs Blog post by Jack Leeming: “From Doctorate to Data Science: A very short guide”
- NatureJobs Blog post by Catherine De Lange: “So you want to be a data scientist?”
Examples of organizations that hire PhDs:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Research institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, UCSF, and University of Michigan
- Biotech companies such as AstraZeneca, Bigfoot Biomedical, and Leidos
- Consulting firms
- Organizations work with consumers that also have large amounts of data:
Courses/training in Data Science:
- UCSF Data Science Initiative
- Insight Data Science Fellows Program
- The Data Incubator Data Science Fellowship
- Coursera Data Science specialization course
- Science to Data Science program
- Innovation labs supported by the BD2K Training Coordination Center
- Know of another? Let us know! Email [email protected]
Career development award supported by the BD2K program
Find your community
- UCSF Data Science Initiative and newsletter
- Meetup groups:
- Data Science Central Newsletter
- NIH Big Data to Knowledge BD2K
- SF Data
- Data Science Trek
Is the data science field a good fit for you?
Good question! Find out by completing the AAAS's My Individual Development Plan Assessment Tool, which OCPD co-created. Answer three assessments and it will calculate and compare your skills/interests/values responses to key factors for 60 different career paths within 20 different career categories that are options for you as a scientist (including consulting!). Click on the image to the left to see a sample report.
Ready to start your job search?
Check out how employers hire/make decisions:
- First Round Review by Jeremy Stanley and Daniel Tunkelang: “Doing Data Science Right — Your Most Common Questions Answered”
- First Round Review by Jeremy Stanley: “How to Consistently Hire Remarkable Data Scientists”
Advice for landing the job:
- Trey Causey: “What it's like to be on the data science job market”
- Erin Shellman: “Crushed it! Landing a data science job”
Take a look at some sample job descriptions.
Internship opportunity examples
**these are meant to serve only as examples. Actual job listing may be closed.