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What it takes to be a data scientist

The path to becoming a data scientist differs depending on your starting skill set, according to Laura Kelley, Houston vice president for IT staffing and consulting firm Modis. Her advice:

*If you're an MBA, start identifying certifications you'll need, such as in a statistical software program. "Don't get a generic computer science degree; narrow down your focus," she says.

*If you're in computer science, consider getting an MBA. Being able to understand the business and communicate well is an essential part of data science. Also, get certified in relevant business intelligence and analytics software.

*If you're a statistician or quantitative analysis specialist, dip into both computer science - natural language processing and machine learning - and business communications training.

IN DEPTH: Could data scientist be your next job?

Kelley also recommends seeking out colleagues or other professionals with the data science title as well as hiring managers and career coaches. She encourages candidates to go onto LinkedIn and other networking sites to connect and ask questions. (See also: Who's hiring data scientists? Facebook, Google, StumbleUpon and more.)

Gittlen is a freelance business and technology journalist in the greater Boston area. Email her at sgittlen@verizon.net.

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