April 16, 2020

What will be the top 3 in-demand skills for data scientists in 5 years?

This is a Quora questions I replied to a couple of weeks ago. It looks like there is a lot of interest in knowing what the skills of the future will be. It is hard to give a comprehensive list of all the skills that will be in-demand in the future but I will share three most likely candidates that, in my opinion, will be in-demand in the coming 5 years.

In-demand skills of the future are hard to speculate on though. When you look at the community, we can’t even agree on the in-demand skills of today. I believe that is mostly because the technology is evolving rapidly and companies are adopting these technologies in different paces. That’s why I find it hard to comment on technical skills and how in-demand or out-of-demand they will be in 5-years time.

Additionally, these new technologies change how we work significantly. So something we use every day now might be obsolete in 3 years due to a better tool coming into play.

Apart from the changing work environment, there is a lot of work being put on abstracting data science work. This means that, as data scientists, we will be going further away from the technical part of the job and more towards the creative and thought-intensive part. 

One might argue that the simpler the data science tools get, the less of a knowledge barrier there will be to enter data science and the job will be less valuable. But I disagree. I think the simpler the technical side, the more important the business side will be. That’s why my prediction for future in-demand skills is more on the softer skills side.

In light of these and from what I’ve seen in my professional life, I think it is likely that the companies will be looking for:

1.   Excellent communication and presentation skills.

Currently, it is a big big plus to have great communication skills but you can still make the cut and become a data scientist if you’re good on the technical side. I believe in the future, companies will require data scientists to be able to explain what they’re doing and be part of the decision process.

2.   Understanding of AI Ethics and being able to incorporate trustworthy AI principles to models.

We are just about starting to hear the discussion of trustworthy AI at work but I believe this will be the big topic of the next 5 years. More regulations will be mandated by governments and thus companies will favour candidates with prior knowledge in this area.

3.   Specialisation in a certain industry/domain.

Even when you’re an in-house data scientist, many times you do not work on only one domain but you branch out and support many teams at a time. For consultants, the domain can vary wildly. I feel that in the coming years, domain specialization will be part of the skill set, especially as more advanced systems have to be fit to a domain’s requirements.

What do you think the future in-demand skills will be? Do you have anything to add to this list or do you not agree? Let me know in the comments or by sending me an email.