The Harvard Business Review once called the role of the Data Scientist "The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century." That’s because it takes someone with the skills of a scientist to make something useful out of big data. Big data is a general term for any dataset with an extraordinarily large volume. In business, data collected from and about customers and about products and competitors is like a hidden motherlode of gold, waiting for a geologist to tell the miners where to dig.  

To put the amount of data we create into context, 90% of it was created in the last two years alone. Data originates from everything from sensors on NASA spacecraft to selfies shared on Facebook. Big data is now entrenched in every part of modern life and will only continue to gain importance. Successful organizations of all types are increasingly reliant on data to inform their decision-making in a competitive global marketplace. To meet the needs of a data-driven world, workers are upskilling to become data-driven decision-makers.

Help Wanted: Data Experts Apply Within

As badly needed as they are, people who understand big data are in short supply.  The big data industry is growing fast and is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.1% between 2014 and 2019. The United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with expertise in big data analysis to make effective decisions by 2018.

Companies in any industry can use big data to enhance their effectiveness, their marketing, and their products. This is why career opportunities in the field are virtually limitless. Professionals with big data expertise will continue to drive the technology revolution, and their salaries reflect this. Recruiting agency Glassdoor reported that the average salary for a data scientist is $118,709 versus $64,537 for a computer programmer. Here are some ways professionals can grab high-paying jobs in today’s Big Data field.

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Training Tomorrow’s Sexy Statisticians

Education providers who offer training in big data are experiencing steep increases in enrollment. EdTech providers, university curricula and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offering data science training have flourished in recent years to prepare students to unlock the value of large data sets. Some would-be data scientists looking to take advantage of the market for “sexy statisticians” are traditional college students majoring in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Many are not.

Ordinary people, with and without college degrees, are looking to land a job in big data—and are taking advantage of flexible blended learning options that conveniently fit into their already busy working lives. A background in computer science is nice to have, but not mandatory for success in big data. Many fields like political science, psychology and medicine already use large datasets. Having a background in an industry other than technology is simply an opportunity to become highly specialized with the addition of advanced data analysis skills.

“There’s a good balance of theory and practical application,” says Ronald van Loon, big data expert and course advisor at “There are both interactive online components with case studies and projects and lectures led by industry experts in virtual classrooms. Since the curriculum is taught by working data experts, it stays cutting-edge.”

Since big data is an emerging field with ever-evolving tools, current data scientists must be lifelong learners. Learning on the job combined with convenient interactive instructional content available on any mobile device is a recipe for success. Of organizations that used big data at least half the time in their marketing campaigns, more than 9 in 10 (92%) surveyed by Forbes who said that they had made sufficient use of big data met or exceeded their goals. Meeting the challenges and potential of the data-driven economy with modern training is a smart game plan for both employers and job seekers alike.

Data Science: Now the Best Job in America?

Thanks to the profession’s demand, growth potential, and above-average salary, it makes sense that Glassdoor ranked data scientist as the “The Best Job for America in 2016.” Data experts are not only needed at tech companies but across most industries including financial institutions, healthcare providers, insurance companies and scientific organizations.

Big data training equips learners with the knowledge and discipline required to organize, analyze and attach real-world implications to large datasets regardless of where they work. Big data analytics training resources options are readily available in both traditional and self-serve formats for anyone motivated enough to take advantage. Read the “Data Scientist: The Numbers Game Deciphered” eBook to learn more about how to become a Data Scientist.

If you're interested in becoming a Big Data expert then we have just the right guide for you. The Big Data Career Guide will give you insights into the most trending technologies, the top companies that are hiring, the skills required to jumpstart your career in the thriving field of Big Data, and offers you a personalized roadmap to becoming a successful Big Data expert.

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