Big data is booming and along with it the need for skilled professionals. It is forecasted that by 2015 big data will have created 2 million jobs in the U.S. alone and 4.4 million jobs worldwide. With these enticing prospects, now is a great time to learn what big data is and what a big data scientist does.
What is Big Data?
Big data refers to the staggering amount of data that is produced by humanity on a daily basis. Data collection and analysis has been around for a very long time, but the large amount of data currently being created goes beyond the processing power of traditional collection and analytical methods.
To put this in perspective, think about that fact that in just the last two years we have created 90% of all the data that currently exists today. Where does all of this data come from? A lot of it comes from the things that you do every single day, such as the purchases you make, the websites you visit, the pictures you send and receive, the GPS signal on your phone, and all of your activity on social media sites.
Why is there such a job boom?
Because the sheer volume of big data is so new, it is something that not too many experts have ever seen or dealt with in the past. Big data requires a combination of both analytical and creative skills that aren’t usually taught side-by-side in either business or statistical programs.
The specific skillset needed by anyone working in big data is also largely going to depend on the field they work in and company they work for. They must be able to understand the company, the clients, and the business model. It is fairly new to demand all of these skills and attributes from one person, and so there are not enough people yet to fill in the available jobs.
What sorts of jobs are associated with Big Data?
Big data is essentially an inflated version of what is known as business intelligence. Business intelligence is the attempt to sift through available data and identify ways of increasing profit, and so it can be found in just about every type of for-profit company. Big data jobs are therefore available in many diverse areas. Some good examples of up-and-coming big data opportunities are in financial firms, customer service, consulting firms, e-learning businesses, defense contractors, and even online dating sites.
How can you get into Big Data?
In a response to the coming job boom, universities are beginning to offer more courses and even entire programs geared towards big data. The foundation of a big data education is in statistics, as a big data scientist needs to be able to organize large amounts of information. Students are often taught how to use the latest data technology and important programs such as Python and Hadoop. However, students are also trained in the business and economic side of things. They are encouraged to grow, keep learning, and stay on top of new technology and data collection methods.