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7 Key Traits of a Good Data Scientist


Everyone in every profession and aspect of life should strive to become better each day. As the saying goes “Practice makes the master”. Here I outline 7 skills/attitudes we can have to become better data scientists.

1. Cultivate “intellectual curiosity”:

Intellectual curiosity is an important predisposition for a data scientist. We cultivate and sharpen it by “always wanting to know a bit more about data” when analyzing it.

2. Solid understanding about the business:

A solid understanding about the business we work on is necessary for a better data analysis. It is a good idea to absorb as much as possible through reading and training.

3. Have good communication skills:

Data science is all about communicating our analysis, findings and predictions to other people. The ability to write well and succinctly is of great importance in order to make good reports.

4. Know more than one programming language for data analysis:

It is very handy to know more than one programming language. If we know R, which is a great starting language, it may be good to move on to Python, SAS, Julia or any other. Besides adding skills to our curriculum, it will improve our logic and enable us to work cross platform.

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5. Know SQL and relational database:

SQL has been for years one of the most used programming languages for data analysis. Today most of the data still lies in relational databases. As data scientists often we will have to create new data sets using data from different tables. To know how to query in SQL will become very handy in these moments.

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6. Participate in competitions:

Participating in competitions is a good way to push ourselves to learn something new, to collaborate with different projects and to deal with data other than those we are used to analyze in our day jobs. To have a “pet project” may be useful as well.

7. Stay up to date reading books, blogs, news, journals, MOOCS and listening to podcasts:

There are tons of information out there and having just a little bit of daily contact with some piece of new information is very helpful to stay tuned. A good thing is to sign up for news feed or to follow data scientists, blogs and data related profiles through social media.

These are simple ideas about actions that can help us improve in our role as data analysts/scientists. Of course there are more skills that were left out of the list. Feel free to add them in your comments.


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Data Science