Three Core Data Science Skills to Get You Hired in 2020 Three Core Data Science Skills to Get You Hired in 2020
We’ve been talking forever about how in-demand data science is, but don’t worry—you haven’t missed the boat (not by a long... Three Core Data Science Skills to Get You Hired in 2020

We’ve been talking forever about how in-demand data science is, but don’t worry—you haven’t missed the boat (not by a long shot). The field is evolving, however, and with data science splitting into different job titles and everyone niching down, it can be tough to know where to get started. There are three core data science skills you’ll need to get a job in 2020. These aren’t the end-all, and this list is only the beginning. But once you’ve got these skills mastered, you can start thinking about your area of expertise. 

[Related Article: Want to Work in Data Science? The Data Science Market for 2020]


SQL is still one of the reigning champions for data science skills in 2020 after Python. It’s listed in over 80,000 job postings on Indeed and over 155,000 job postings on LinkedInand no wonder. C-suite leaders and shareholders are getting wise to the power of real data analytics. The right search transforms data from inert to value-driven. 

Between 60% and 73% of an organization’s data goes unused. SQL targets that oversight, allowing data scientists to return not just information, but the right kind of information. Add your Python or R skills, and you’ve got the potential to tell a story with your data. Speed that process up with Python, and 

Employers love that. They know they’re sitting on a data gold mine, but without knowledgeable data scientists with the right kind of queries, it’s useless. Sure, much of our data today is unstructured, but for businesses with lots of legacy data and list-based data from years of customer service authentications, SQL is a necessity.

Data Wrangling and Visualization

There are so many fancy skills out there, but two fundamental ones are still in favor. You can’t just throw data at your CEO and call it a day. These two skills are vital to your career as a data scientist because they help ensure that you’ll deliver the business value your employers are looking for.

Soft skills are in high demand, and one specific to data science is the art of communication, i.e., data visualization. What you see in data isn’t so apparent to everyone else; you must be able to communicate that information in digestible formats that provide insights. Go beyond what your CEO asks and deliver truly insightful news that your company can use to make better decisions and craft better customer experiences.

Data wrangling, on the other hand, ensures you can make sense of the chaotic data most businesses have. Literally anyone can find some data, but getting the right data for a project, knowing how to find it, and how to put it into a usable form is a vital skill many people overlook. Whether you’re coming into an existing data science team or you’re the first data science employee a company has, you’ll need to be able to support the data discovery process. You can learn on the job, but it’s exponentially better to have that mastery already.

Taken together, these two skills help shrink downtime by providing valuable insights that prevent business missteps. Businesses can’t afford to move on slow intelligence, so think of this as an end to end process. You can wrangle your data, craft the right model, and then present the insights efficiently. If you master that pipeline, you’re a business’s dream.

Innovation and Keeping Up with Trends

Data is promising businesses faster, more on-target innovation, but things change so quickly in data science. You need to be a constantly curious student, willing to try new algorithms, explore new processes, and try out new languages.

Your C-suite team isn’t going to figure these things out for you; that’s why they hire experts (you) in the first place. And your CIO or CTO may have lived a previous life as a data science team member, but they have more on their plate now with the business side. It’s up to you to make sure your business has the chance to use new things coming down the pipeline.

Even more so, you must understand the place new things have in the business ecosystem. Your business isn’t in this for giggles or to build cool stuff. It’s all about business value and digital transformation helps businesses survive. If you can keep up to date with the newest things and know when the time is right to implement that new process, framework, language, or algorithm, you’ll be a valuable employee.

Delivering Business Value Makes You Valuable

At the end of the day, it’s not all about what languages you know or how well you understand neural networks (although, yes, those are important and impressive!) Businesses rely on you to keep up to date with latest trends, and they trust you to take their data and transform it into an incredible tool for insights. 

[Related Article: Data Science Job Titles to Look Out for in 2020]

Proving you have a knack for the business side puts you ahead of applicants choosing to stay “numbers-only.” These skills are an incredible companion to standard data science skills like languages and frameworks, so make sure you brush up on them for your next round of applications.

If you attend ODSC East 2020 this April 13-17 in Boston, you’ll get a crash course in these skills and more. If you’re looking to get a new job or get your first one, be sure to check out the ODSC East Career Expo April 13-14 and learn about what other skills will help you stand out, what employers are looking for, and even interview for jobs on-the-spot!

Elizabeth Wallace, ODSC

Elizabeth is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for startups. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do. Connect with her on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethawallace/