Why is data science so hot right now?

And what should colleges and universities know about the data science field?

The rising cost of college tuition against the backdrop of a challenging job market brings new meaning to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Once a question of endearment for the young and imaginative, today’s students focus on what will pay the bills; what career will provide the means to pay back loans; what is the next profession to boom. The medical and law professions used to top the list. Now, a new player is ready to take the top spot: data scientists.

A few years back, data science emerged as one of the most promising up-and-coming career paths. Today, it has broken barriers. The data scientist was named Mashable’s hottest professions of 2015 and Glassdoor’s most popular job of 2016. And its popularity is only growing. [Read: “3 blossoming fields of study with massive potential”]

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of qualified data scientists to fill the demand. Not enough individuals are graduating from college with the skills necessary to break into the profession. Those that do and who have degrees in fields like physics, engineering, and mathematics are receiving six-figure salaries upon graduation – and that’s with no work experience.

Before discussing what needs to be done to change this skills gap, it’s important to understand why the field of data science is booming, and what these individuals offer society that justifies changing the way we train and recruit the future generation of data scientists.

(Next page: Why data science? And what makes it special?)

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