Hot Job: Data Scientist

As I had written previously Exercise Our Nation’s Students Into More Engineering, Scientific and Technical Graduate Studies and Jobs and announced in a past YouTube video it is imperative to mold our best young minds in STEM disciplines using state-of-the-art educational tools to facilitate their success in R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing industries. This has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of America’s strength. One current field exemplifying this, which is in short supply and high demand, is Big-data scientists.

Data scientist is a job that barely existed 3 years ago, but is now one of the most sought after professions. Everyone from retailers to banks to Internet sites like Yelp desperately need experts to extract and interpret the mounds of data gathered from Internet clicks, machines and smartphones. In fact many of my engineering recruitment, scientific recruitment, technical recruitment and executive recruitment colleagues call these experts unicorns because the combination of skills needed to be successful is very, very rare.

In addition to commercial applications, many government agencies have exponentially increased their demand for such expertise. In fact, during the past 18 months, the U.S. government has invested heavily in ways to collect and examine social media postings on Facebook, Twitter and countless overseas regional networks. This has been done on the direction of DIA chief Michael Flynn who believes that online postings are increasingly playing a role in important investigations like the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. For example, one Russian-speaking analyst uncovered a posting on Russia’s VK social media site from a pro-Russian separatist claiming to have shot down a Ukrainian military cargo plane.

Internal management recruiters at our client companies say that ideal candidates must possess more than the traditional market research capabilities. Additionally, they must be able to discover patterns in millions of pieces of data streaming in from different sources and be able to infer from those patterns how customers behave. Then from that analysis, they need to be able to write statistical models that pinpoint behavioral triggers. As a result, there is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) component to this unique position.

STEM high school graduatesAn example of an ideal data scientist profile is a Ph.D. in applied mathematics or astrophysics that has been performing data mining for either: a) a giant particle accelerator or b) in genome mapping. In fact, anyone with the words “data science” on their resume automatically makes anyone at an engineering recruitment agency or technical recruitment agency salivate. As a result, it is becoming more and more common for Ph.D.’s with just two years of experience to earn up to $300,000 per year!

As a result, there are currently 36,000 job openings on job sites like CareerBuilder and LinkedIn with the words “data science” in their titles. Unfortunately, there were only 2,500 Ph.D. graduates in the combined areas of statistics, bio-statistics, particle physics and computer science in 2012 (the most recent year for which the federal government publishes such statistics). These are the fields that data scientists are typically recruited from. This is another reason why our government needs to increase its efforts to develop more STEM high school graduates with the skills needed become a future Ph.D.’s in this other another desired R&D, scientific, engineering, technical and IT fields. Our nation’s health and safety are at stake.

What are your thoughts?