There’s perhaps a misconception that data scientists spend their days underground, in a windowless room, crunching numbers and staring at spreadsheets. But as the world has embraced data more and more (there’s now so much data being accumulated that we now measure it in zettabytes, AKA a trillion gigabytes!) data science has become an incredibly diverse and exciting field.
If you study data science, the world is your oyster. You could work for a bank or financial institution, sure, but also a sports team, or a charity, or a sustainability project, or a robotics lab, or a wildlife reserve, or the police. Data science is essentially storytelling with numbers, and the world has never been hungrier for more accurate stories.
Here are just six exciting things you can do with a data science degree (that are actually fun).
1. Machine Learning Engineer
Want to work on the cutting edge of AI development? Want to push predictive algorithms and help businesses become more efficient? Data science is one of the building blocks of machine learning. You might need to supplement your data degree with some more specialised study, but the skills you learn in Big Data (Python, applied analytics, data wrangling and communication) will all come in handy. As a Machine Learning Engineer, you’ll probably be part of a larger ‘data’ team, anyway, building AI models and communicating them to the wider business.
2. Rocket Engineer
They’re not ‘rocket scientists’ anymore; they’re ‘rocket engineers’ (this is the first thing you’ll need to learn). Rocket engineering is a particular field of aerospace engineering devoted to the design and construction of spaceships. To go and work for NASA as a rocket engineer will take many years of dedicated study, and more than a bit of luck, but Data Science is an excellent first step along the path. Aerospace engineers use data all the time to run tests, diagnose problems, hunt for efficiencies, and evaluate their designs.
3. Security Trader
If numbers are really your passion, and you like the high-octane world of high finance, you might want to look into security trading. Security traders buy and sell stocks (or other financial doodads like bonds, derivatives and futures). It’s their job to follow the booms and busts, design models and predict the behaviour of the world’s financial markets. Data science is the bedrock of security trading – you can’t do the job without it – but you might also need a degree in accounting, finance or economics.
The world’s weather can really be looked at as one giant data set. The biggest, most complicated data set imaginable (turbulence is still one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe). To figure out what the weather is going to do next, we need meteorologists. They research and make predictions about Earth’s weather patterns (climate and weather are slightly different, and there is a related field, climatology, which deals more with forecasting trends in the Earth’s atmosphere). If you’d like to harness meteorological numbers and spend your days pouring over satellite charts, this might be the career for you.
Criminology is a social science, and that’s an area most people don’t think of when they think of Big Data. Social sciences feel more fuzzy than ‘hard’ ones. But criminologists use data all the time. They look at crime patterns, offender profiles, criminal psychology, population statistics, and the efficacy of law enforcement policies. It’s criminologists’ job to make our society safer, but also to understand the root causes of crime (and suggest ways to nip them in the bud). The best way to do that? Collecting lots and lots of data.
6. Infectious Disease Analyst
Talk about a growth field…Infectious Disease Analysts apply the methodologies and principle of data science to disease: measuring spread, building predictive models, and providing health authorities with accurate, data-driven advice. This career falls under the broad umbrella of ‘epidemiologist’, for which you’ll probably also need a Master’s degree in public health or epidemiology. This job requires a lot of dedication, education and training, but you’ll be using data science to save lives and make a difference. And in today’s post-pandemic world, the demand for this kind of specialised knowledge is likely to soar.
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