The need for people who can crunch numbers and explain them is growing. Well, more like exploding and it’s doing so at such a rate that the McKinsey Global Institute predicts a shortage of 190,000 data scientists within five years.
According to the New York Times, data scientists “crunch the data, use mathematical models to analyze it and create narratives or visualizations to explain it, then suggest how to use the information to make decisions” (Miller). Forbes suggests that data science is in essence, the “coupling of the mature discipline of statistics with a very young one–computer science.” The Harvard Business Review went so far as to call data science “the sexiest job in the 21st century.” (That might be a stretch.)
Corporations can’t get enough data scientists to handle the volume of big data they want to manage and academia are just beginning to define it and develop the curriculum. Those institutions that already have analytic degrees or certificate programs are finding their graduates are being snapped up by companies offering an average salary of $89,000, to upwards of $100,000 for those with experience.
The next logical question might be what does this mean for communicators? PRNews says “If you’re a up-and-coming communications pro with a penchant for math, statistics and science, a data-science focus sounds like a winning career path. ” Yes it does. However, those who are not “number crunchers” naturally can still be highly successful if they are taught to think strategically about analyzing, interpreting, and reporting data.