Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Data Scientist?

  • August 11, 2022

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Over the past five years, demand for data scientists has increased by almost 300% according to the latest IT Skills Report. With triple the demand, and an average salary of well over £60k, it’s clear why graduates or career pivoters are interested in the data science career pathway.

People who delve into data science careers are masters of understanding and manipulating data. Whether using it to create new products, or to update existing software, it’s the insight of data scientists that powers innovation. If that sounds like it could be right up your street, then read on to find out what data science employers are looking for and whether you have the key skills, qualifications and the right persona to fit the bill. This insight can also inform your decision-making regarding which qualifications and training programmes you’re going to need to think about.


Key Technical Skills

Data visualisation

Data scientists turn intangible data into accessible numerical or textual information. They are able to illustrate the meaning of data to convey trends and patterns in an easy-to-digest format.


66% of data scientists say they use Python daily in their jobs. Python skills are a must-have for most data science roles.


Another must-have for want-to-be data science professionals. SQL is pretty much the standard language for relational databases, so the chances are you won’t find an employer who’ll consider you for a data role without it.

AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing

Experience in these fields isn’t essential, but NLP makes it possible for humans and computers to communicate with each other, making data extraction more efficient.

Analytics tools – employers look for experience with tools like Hadoop, SAS and Apache Zeppelin amongst others.

Maths and statistics

A background in mathematics and statistics is essential for data scientists. Advanced mathematics is the backbone of data science, and anyone wanting to work in the field needs to understand the fundamental theory behind the analysis. Basic linear algebra, multivariable calculus, statistics and bayesian thinking are all areas of particular significance.


Key Soft Skills

Commercial skills and industry-specific knowledge

Business acumen or a solid understanding of the industry and market is essential for most data science roles. That’s because it’s not just the data that’s important, it’s how it relates to the business and industry that really matters. Data scientists need to be able to use data to fuel action towards meeting business goals.

Analytical skills

This goes without saying, but in a data analytics role, you’ll need… analytical skills. The ability to collect and analyse data, interpret it and use it with creativity and critical thinking and investigate its meaning with research.


Data scientists must possess excellent logic and reasoning skills. The kind that give you the tools to handle challenging situations, identify and prioritise issues and find solutions to problems.

General high cognitive ability

A data science career is only possible when you have the ability to comprehend complex ideas, rapidly process detailed information and learn quickly.

Presentation and communication skills

Your job will be not only to interpret data and use it to power decision-making but to present and communicate that data to your teams in various formats. This often involves presenting and public speaking.


Useful qualifications

  • Degree in Mathematics or statistics
  • Degree in a related field like computer science, data science, engineering or physics
  • Certifications in programming languages
  • Postgraduate qualifications in subjects like big data, business analytics, data analytics or data science can be helpful


Preferred experience

The majority of private sector data science roles tend to be within finance, retail and e-commerce. Increasingly, other industries like telecommunications, transport and logistics and oil and gas are using data analytics.

The public sector is also a key data science employer. Local and central government departments require data analytics and intelligence professionals to apply their skills and knowledge in areas such as fraud detection, national security and defence. The police and other crime prevention and detection organisations require extensive data analytics support.

The NHS, too, are a major employer of big data professionals. Data analysis on public health matters, as well as service delivery issues, is a crucial aspect of the NHS’s commitment to providing healthcare.

Other major data science employers are universities and research institutes of all types.

Experience within any of these types of industry or organisations will provide you with the experience to support the all-important industry-specific knowledge that helps you to put your data analytics skills into practice. This is why data science is such a common role for career pivoters later in life, who want to use their prior experience with new skills to create a lucrative career opportunity.


If you feel your strengths, skillset and background make your best place for a career in data science, whether you’re a current student, recent graduate or career-changer contact us to discuss your hopes for the future. Why not take a look at our current vacancies for inspiration.

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