10 signs you might not be cut out for a data scientist job

The data scientist role has garnered a lot of attention and interest, but if you’re considering a job in this field, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

College students are enrolling in data science majors, and some are even changing their major to data science because it is such a growing and lucrative field. But data scientists are also a species apart. How do you know if you will be happy in a data science career? These 10 clues can help you determine if a data scientist role is right for you. If you decide yes, be sure to check out the career resources at the end of this article.

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1. You don’t like statistics

Data science is full of statistical analysis. If statistics aren’t your thing, data science isn’t for you.

2. You don’t like working alone for long periods of time

Data science can require long periods of concentration. This work is best done alone and with minimal interruption. If you’re a very social person and want constant interaction, a career in data science may be too isolating.

SEE: Recruitment Kit: Data Architect (Tech Pro Research)

3. You’re not detail-oriented

Attention to detail is important in data science because you are constantly working with statistics, data, and the mathematical and logical algorithms you develop. Along with this work, you must constantly analyze the results of your work. A person with a detail-oriented mind is the best person for this activity.

SEE: How to Build a Successful Data Scientist Career (Free TechRepublic PDF)

4. You don’t like tedious tasks

Up to 60% of data scientists’ time is spent on data preparation, a tedious activity that involves standardizing data terms, cleaning data so it can be used, and more. There’s nothing glamorous about this job, but if you don’t do this, you won’t have a good dataset to run your algorithms on. You should ask yourself if a job with up to 60% trouble in data preparation will make you happy.

5. You don’t have a strong technical or engineering background

A strong background in engineering, computer science, statistics, and data modeling is important for data scientists. If you come from a background other than this, you might have difficulty doing the job.

6. You Can’t Accept Failure

Data science is experimental work. You try different algorithms with different combinations of data. Like most researchers, data scientists encounter many failures because not all algorithms or theories work. Great data scientists know when to quit and when to try another approach. When they fail, they try again. If you think you don’t have the resilience to accept repetitive failures, a job in data science might not be for you.

SEE: Cheat sheet: How to become a data scientist (TechRepublic)

7. You like predictable work

Data science is anything but predictable! Sometimes unique information can appear out of nowhere. In other cases, what you think is a good formula or algorithm to apply to the data does nothing. A job as a data scientist is not for someone who likes to come to work every morning already understanding how their day is going to unfold.

8. You don’t like office work.

If you love IT but also like to physically move around and take a break from your desk, a job in networking, telephony or operations might be a better fit. Data scientists, due to the detailed nature of the work, spend long hours at their desks.

9. Data bores you

Being a data scientist is all about data! You have to clean the data, assemble it, process it, analyze it, and then do the same thing again. It helps if you like the challenges of working with data.

10. You don’t understand how to translate business problems into data algorithms

If you’re employed in a company, you’ll need more than a data science degree. Your internal customers expect you to understand the business and the tough business problems they want you to help solve with data science. A skilled data scientist knows how to get to the heart of a business problem and get the right data. If you feel like you lack that business acumen or instinct, a career in data science might not be for you.

Does being a data scientist seem right for you? These resources can help

Your catch

Thinking of starting a career in data science? What advantages and disadvantages do you assess? Share your thoughts with other TechRepublic members.

Sean N. Ayres