What do data scientists do?

What do data scientists do?

Old-school data jobs have previously been associated with snoozy offices, tabs full of spreadsheets, too many numbers and not enough sunlight, so it’s hard to picture the next gen of stats gigs being described as, “Really hands on!” “Amazing!” and “Game-changing!”. But as the coolest of companies have started giving props to the business-boosting insights data can deliver, being awesome at collecting and translating it has become the trending skill.

We made it our mission to find out, what do data scientists do day-to-day? So we can dish all the details.

Why do companies need them?

Data scientists provide companies with the information needed so they can make smarter – more informed –business decisions! They hunt down numbers to uncover new insights, predict trends and understand complex consumer behaviours.

What kind of places employ data scientists?

All kinds – yep, even the fun ones! Netflix, Buzzfeed, Facebook, ASOS and Apple all employ data scientists to uncover the kinds of things that we want to see/read/buy. A data scientist might even be behind the decision to renew your favourite show for another season, those ads that keep popping up on your FB feed or the reason that the dress you love is now on sale!

Do you get paid much?

Yep, a lot. Graduates fresh from university can be paid up to the $100,000 range, with seasoned data scientists expecting closer to $150,000 and up.

Should you study?

Data science is offered as a major at most universities within other STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) degrees. Look at courses like a Bachelor of Science, Advanced Computing, or Engineering. Post-grad master’s degrees in data science specifically, are a great way to specialise too!

– Cassie Steel

Breaking down the stats

Data science roles are among LinkedIn’s top emerging jobs. Here are just some of the kinds of positions going:

#1  Software engineers

#2  Statisticians

#3  Business intelligence analysts

#4  Data infrastructure engineers

#5  Data scientists and analysts

And the types of companies hiring:

IT corporates such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft and Telstra

Financial service companies like NAB, ANZ and ING

Consulting firms KPMG and Accenture

Retailers. Think: The Iconic, Coles and Amazon

Health researchers like the CSIRO and The Black Dog Institute

Environmental not-for-profits such as Greenpeace and WWF

What do data scientists do day-to-day?

We meet three real-life data scientists and quiz them on exactly how they spend their day.

Michelle Lugton, data scientist at retailer Coles

Daily to-dos: “Meeting with stakeholders to understand challenges for the business and brainstorming on how we can use machine-learning techniques to solve problems.”   

The fun stuff: “It’s an amazing feeling to walk into a store and see an initiative from a project I’ve worked on!”

Making a difference: “Analytics is a game-changer in retail! Businesses who know their customers and can match them with products that are relevant to them are more successful than companies who provide exactly the same offers to all customers.”

Michelle - What do data scientists do?

Jared Wong, data analyst at social tech company Digivizer

Daily to-dos: “I build reports on real-time dashboards to help businesses see where their investment in digital marketing is succeeding. It’s a lot of extracting data, analysing trends, strategy meetings and presenting results!”    

The fun stuff: “Basically my job is to read tweets, explore Instagram and watch YouTube! My friends are jealous.” 

Making a difference: “Data experts take the guesswork out of making business decisions, so we’re in high demand!”

Jared Wong - What do data scientists do?

Kshira Saagar, head of analytics and data science at e-retailer The Iconic

Daily to-dos: “Sixty-two per cent of my time goes into solving business user problems, 23% into working with the team to unblock existing roadblocks and 15% into talking to the wider business about how we can make our customers’ lives better with data!”   

The fun stuff: “People often assume that anyone heading a department would just be sending out a bunch of emails, but it’s actually really hands-on! There’s a lot of writing code, getting down and dirty with data and learning new techniques like a beginner every day!” 

Making a difference: “One of the biggest levers businesses can use is data – on what customers want, do and say – so they can serve people better, faster and in a more seamless fashion.”


Meet more data scientists.

Kshira Saagar - What do data scientists do?
Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

Cassie Steel is a Sydney-based journalist who specialises in health, beauty, lifestyle, tech and entertainment content.

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