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Demand grows for data science and analytics execs – The Australian Financial Review

Unlocking data

Data scientists and analytics executives are so in demand because exploring data in meaningful ways is the key to unlocking and understanding the problems facing an organisation.

These specialists need the skills to organise, interpret, structure and present the data as useful information and provide crucial context on missed opportunities and downfalls within a company.

It’s been crucial for companies facing uncertainty and economic pressures through the pandemic, with many seeking out specialists able to unlock data to understand where the opportunities lie. For them, hiring this skillset has been the difference between success and failure.

Acquiring the skills

A career in this field is best suited to a naturally inquisitive person able to apply algorithms and analytic techniques in order to explore and interpret patterns in the data to then identify solutions and communicate the results to a range of key stakeholders with recommendations.

The average salary for a data scientist is around $120,000 a year. iStock

With strong technical skills and confidence in a range of software programs, these specialists often have strong mathematical ability and great communication skills.

According to Indeed, data scientists should be familiar with computing, statistics, advanced mathematics, machine learning and database management.

Data scientists and analyst executives are employed in a range of fields, including retail, finance, IT, government and health.

Making the change

As the cost of living rises, many Australians have been looking for careers that pays better than their current salary. The pandemic causes a period of reflection, meaning Australians are rushing towards data science and analytics executive degrees.

RMIT University’s Master of Data Science degree launched in 2017, marking one of the first data science-specific degrees in Australia. The university’s data science student cohort has been growing steadily each year since the program began.

The program has been developed in collaboration with industry leaders, bringing data science into strategy and leadership. The course provides a broad basis of programming, analytics, data wrangling and visualisation. Students can study part-time without interrupting their current role.

RMIT University’s program manager Professor Falk Scholer says the program is designed to cater for people with a background in computing or statistics – which are two of the core components for data science – as well as those with a background in other areas such as science, engineering or health.

He notes that the demand for data scientists has been growing strongly over the last years, with the trend set to continue as businesses collect more data and use it to gain new insights, and a competitive edge.

While the trend was impacted somewhat by the pandemic as the university temporarily transitioned from on-site to online learning, enrolments continued, Scholer says.

“While the situation was particularly difficult for some of our international students, both students and staff worked hard to ensure that learning could continue and to foster a sense of community when we were isolated,” he says.

Stepping up

Data science is an ideal degree for people who have come from other areas such as science, engineering or health, who want to focus on additional techniques for analysing and understanding data.

“Rapid developments in the areas of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning mean that new tools and approaches continue to become available, which is ideal for students wanting to be at the cutting edge of their career,” he says.

“Perhaps even more importantly, the tools and techniques of data science equip people to help tackle some of the grand challenges that are affecting humanity, from climate change, to understanding global pandemics,” he says.

Successful business strategies depend on understanding data, and without data-literate leaders, even the best data teams can struggle to apply their insights to a business.

One of the great benefits of a data science career is that the roles can be so varied, from focusing on statistical analytical approaches, to devising algorithms and deploying AI-based models, through to the distillation and communication of complex ideas in an understandable way.

“In terms of application areas, you might be helping a business to understand complex product preferences in order to generate recommendations, working to understand how users interact with a website in order to make it a more engaging and efficient experience, or identifying trends related to homelessness and how services and support can be most effectively offered. The possibilities are vast, making it an increasingly sought-after career,” Scholer says.

Use RMIT University’s online canvas platform to access coursework anywhere, anytime. Connect data. Unlock business strategy. Enquire here.

Source: https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/education/demand-grows-for-data-science-and-analytics-execs-20220909-p5bgui

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