I May Never Be a Data Scientist

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Chances are extremely high that I’ll never put down Data Scientist as my job. Considering what you do and what you know, I’ll bet a healthy percentage of you are in a similar situation. That’s OK. You know why? You know a lot about data, data movement and data processing that a Data Scientist doesn’t.

They Also Serve

I don’t know about you, but I’m not standing around waiting to serve. Instead, I’d be actively chasing after any and all Data Scientists within my organization offering to serve. If you can’t be the Data Scientist who do you want to be? The Data Scientist’s go-to technician.

That’s me handing over a new data set to the Data Scientist I’m working with:

OK, really it’s the best James Bond and the best Q in the second best Bond film (the modern Casino Royale is #1, wow, 3rd best Bond though). Anyway…

Like any other job, this isn’t about 1s and 0s. It’s about understanding the needs of the business Data Scientist. Each project likely has different purposes with different data sets from various locations, all of which my require all sorts of different types of processing from collating unstructured storage to moving data into a highly structured (maybe even tuned) environment. In short, there’s a ton of work there, a lot of which isn’t going to be done by the person who has been extremely busy learning highly advanced algorithms, not T-SQL.


So, I may never be a Data Scientist (or a secret agent). I’m still learning new things, including mathematics (albeit at a snail’s pace) and I’m going to be able to apply that knowledge to help ensure my continued value as a data specialist. It’s time to stop worrying about whether you’ll have a job in 5-10 years and start learning so you’ll be turning down work for 20 years.


  • Most data scientists I’ve seen have advanced degrees in either mathematics or engineering. I’ll have to settle for using Python with the NumPy/Pandas modules to hack at Data Analysis / Data Science.

  • Rob

    I forgot all my math knowledge when I finished my GCSEs and moved into real life when at the time maths was useless because we have calculators and computers… Ironic how it came back into fashion. I’m just in a constant state of learning and I love that. I never do job roles that fit into widely known categories, I normally do my own thing and make myself invaluable to the xompany

  • It’s funny, I went to grad school for math, excelled particularly at (and loved) courses focusing on Data Analysis and extracting meaning from messy data sets – I even did some research with Neural Networks (boy did they suck then (90s) – everybody except maybe Yan LeCun fled from what seemed to be a sinking boat).

    Anyhow, thinking math would only get me a job as (I thought) a professor at some point, IF I was lucky, I jumped on a job doing C++ programming and here I am years later and Math and Stats rule the world (whether or not they should is under review…). Making a transition of the magnitude of becoming a Data Scientist seems a rather forbidding peak to climb but I really think you’re onto something here, Grant, and have pondered taking a similar tack. If nothing else I will get more Python in my life between that and SQL 2017…

OK, fine, but what do you think?