3 Getting the skills


This chapter covers

  • Different ways to learn data science
  • Understanding what makes a good academic program or bootcamp
  • Choosing the route that’s best for you

Now that you’ve decided to become a data scientist, you need to acquire the skills! Fear not: wondering how to learn the skills of a data scientist is one of the universal parts of becoming a data scientist. There are many ways to do it, from watching YouTube videos to getting a degree, and lots of people will tell you that the way they did it is the only correct path. Worse, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount you have to learn, such as algorithms, programming languages, and statistical methods—and then you throw in the different business domains. Just thinking about it can be emotionally draining.

The good news is that there are only four main methods to get the skills you need. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks, but when you lay them out, it usually becomes clear which is the right approach for you. By the end of this chapter, you should understand the different methods, and after some reflection, you should be able to decide on the best route for your situation. You can do this!

The four methods of getting data science skills in this chapter are

  • Earning a graduate degree in data science or a related field
  • Participating in a data science bootcamp (an 8- to 15-week crash course)
  • Doing data science work in your current job
  • Teaching yourself through online courses and data science books

3.1. Earning a data science degree

3.1.1. Choosing the school

3.1.2. Getting into an academic program

3.1.3. Summarizing academic degrees

3.2. Going through a bootcamp

3.2.1. What you learn

3.2.2. Cost

3.2.3. Choosing a program

3.2.4. Summarizing data science bootcamps

3.3. Getting data science work within your company

3.3.1. Summarizing learning on the job

3.4. Teaching yourself

3.4.1. Summarizing self-teaching

3.5. Making the choice

3.6. Interview with Julia Silge, data scientist and software engineer at RStudio