How to Start a Career in Big Data

According to the recent report The Quant Crunch: How the Demand for Data Science Skills is Disrupting the Job Market, the demand for data scientists, developers and engineers will increase by 28 percent – to about 2,720,000 total openings – by next year. So if you’re interested in launching a big data career, there’s never been a better or more exciting time to take the plunge.

Big Data Career Qualifications

Let’s say you want to be a big data engineer. Your job will entail developing, maintaining, testing and evaluating big data solutions and building large-scale processing systems – using experience in such Hadoop-base technologies as MapReduce, Hive, Mongo DB or Cassandra.

Valuable career skills include:
  • The ability to work with NoSQL and other current database technologies.
  • Experience in software engineering and with object-oriented design, coding and testing patterns.
  • An understanding of algorithms and how they are built.
  • Knowledge of various programming and scripting languages, such as Java, Linux, C++, PHP, Ruby, Python and/or R.
  • Familiarity with various hardware and software designs.
It also helps to:
  • Enjoy being challenged and solving complex problems on a daily basis.
  • Have excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Be proficient in designing ETL workflows.
  • Have the ability to work in cloud computing environments.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering. (A master’s is, not surprisingly, an added plus.)
  • Be a natural team player.
  • Possess strong project management skills.

Tips to Get You Started

Here are some tips to learning the tools and tricks of the big data trade:

  • Choose the right role. Maybe it is data engineer. Or perhaps your dream job is data visualization or machine learning expert or data scientist. Depending on your background, getting into one role may be easier than another. For instance, if you’re already a software developer, it won’t be difficult to shift into engineering. Start by being clear about what you want to do and become. Talk to people in the industry, consider finding a mentor, and research your options thoroughly.
  • Take a course. There are thousands of them out there. Find one that covers the basics of an area that interests you and brings you up to a level from which you can push even further. Follow all the coursework, assignments and discussions from start to finish.
  • Join a peer group. Taking up a new field can be daunting when you go it alone, but when you have friends and colleagues alongside you, it gets a lot easier. The most preferable peer group is one consisting of people with whom you can interact face-to-face, but you can also join an online group.
  • Once you get the hang of big data, start attending industry events, meetings and conferences. Participate in hackathons and meetups. Networking contacts can give you inside information on your field of interest and possible job openings and provide invaluable mentorship support.

The executive search consultants at TRC Professional Solutions can help you chart your big data career course and find the roles and opportunities that are right for you. This includes providing educational resources, building your resume, walking you through your job search process, and tapping you into our nationwide network of clients. Contact us today to learn more.