Data Scientist: a Unicorn?

Finding a good engineer is hard. Finding a good data scientist doubly so.

A couple of months ago, Josh Wills, Director of Data Science at Cloudera, gave a talk dubbed “The Life of a Data Scientist”. In the talk, he defined data scientist as:

Data Scientist (n.): Person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician. [1]

This definition gets to the heart of why it is so hard to hire a good data scientist. How many software engineers do you know that understand what Student’s t-test means? How many statistician do you know who has heard of Dependency Injection? To be honest, I know a couple, but that’s a couple out of 100+ software engineers and statisticians that I know. [2] The intersection of two small groups, statisticians and qualified software engineers, ends up being tiny.

The rest of the world is catching onto this supply-demand gap of data scientists.Research published by McKinsey Global Institute on Big Data reports:

Addressing the talent shortage will not happen overnight, and the search for deep analytical talent that has already begun can only intensify. [3][4]

If you are a data scientist, this is one great time to be one. Also, if you happen to be a great software engineer or a stastistician, you know what you should be learning next =)

P.S. If you happen to be a good statistician, software engineer or both (i.e. data scientist), we are hiring. Here at Treasure Data, we are building a platform to bring the power of Hadoop to the masses. If this sounds like your cup of tea, please drop us a line.

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  • Wills also shared an alternate definition coined by someone else: “Data Analyst who lives in California.”
  • I studied Math and Computer Science in college. So much for diversity among my friends.
  • Read the report
  • Interestingly, the United States is still the leader in the supply of “deep technical talent” followed by India, Russia and Brazil.
Kiyoto Tamura
Kiyoto Tamura
Kiyoto began his career in quantitative finance before making a transition into the startup world. A math nerd turned software engineer turned developer marketer, he enjoys postmodern literature, statistics, and a good cup of coffee.
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