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Big Data, Big Jobs

Computerworld, September 20
Companies are looking for IT employees with a complex set of skills to tap the promise of Big Data, which could transform the enterprise by bringing data analytics to bear on almost every area of business. As a result, Big Data-related jobs are rapidly becoming some of the most sought-after job openings by employees. According to a recent McKinsey report, the U.S. could face a shortage by 2018 of 140,000 to 190,000 people with "deep analytical talent" and of 1.5 million people capable of analyzing data in ways that enable business decisions. With this in mind, the article takes a closer look at the most popular Big Data jobs as well as the types of skills, qualifications and experience that they now require.
The general consensus appears to be that Big Data will require a wide range of different types of skills. Big data is all about using analytics to understand customers, develop new products and cut operational costs. Additionally, some big data job titles contain neither the word "big" nor the word "data." Employers now think of big data jobs in terms of four buckets of skills: data scientist, data architect, data visualizer and data change agent. However, there are no standard titles: what one company calls a data analyst, for example, might be called something different at another firm. The skills most often mentioned in connection with big data jobs include math, statistics, data analysis, business analytics and even natural language processing. And although not consistent, some titles, such as data scientist and data architect, are becoming more common.
The most important qualifications for these positions are not academic degrees, certifications, job experience or titles. Rather, they are soft skills: a curious mind, the ability to communicate with non-technical people, a persistent character and a strong creative bent. That's because most of the jobs emerging in big data require knowledge of programming and the ability to develop applications, as well as knowing how to meet business needs. Without conventional titles, or even standard qualifications, it's hard to know what makes someone suitable for a big data job. This listing, based on interviews of big data experts and recruiters, attempts to match up some of the most common titles with the skills required: data scientists, data architects, data visualizers, data change agents and data engineers. In general, the qualities of curiosity and creativity matter more than the level and type of academic credential since these are people who fit at the intersection of multiple domains. They have to take ideas from one field and apply them to another field, and they have to be comfortable with ambiguity. These are people who cut across IT, software development, app development and analytics.

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