New Profile for Big Data Careers
I’ve been a research biologist for most of my career, and I can remember clearly when the ability to identify a specific stand of DNA, and replicate it millions of times so it could be sequenced and studied, was cutting-edge stuff, relegated to elite laboratories at top universities. But the potential of “molecular biology” was so great—not only to researchers but also to medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing—it quickly became an industry unto itself, and early biotech giants like “Genentech” and “Biogen” became household names. The work of extracting, amplifying, and manipulating DNA was no longer isolated to Ph.D.-level scientists. In fact, an army of technicians were required to keep up with the exploding demand for new products.
We are witnessing a similar phenomenon now in the world of big data. As the volume of data grows, and reliance on data products expands, there is an exploding need for trained workers with the skills to carry out the day-to-day operations of collecting, transforming, and analyzing those data. But what are the skills, knowledge, and behaviors needed for these middle-skilled workers to be successful in their data careers?
ODI has teamed up with four community colleges to create a career pathway model for big data careers. The first step in this process was to bring our community college partners together with representatives from a diverse array of industries—including biotechnology, finance, law enforcement, health care, agriculture, and public policy—to create an occupational profile of the “data practitioner.” The resulting profile, which has just been released, lays out the tasks and duties of the data practitioner, and describes the skills, knowledge and behaviors required of them to successfully fulfill their roles.
Using this profile, ODI and its community college partners will design and build course sequences. We will also work together to create a system of stackable credentials that identify associate’s degrees, certificates, and four-year programs leading to employment in companies using big data.
At ODI, we believe that students of all ages need better exposure to data in the classroom in order to prepare them to enter this changing workforce. We’re especially excited to be working at the community college level, where students are going directly from the classroom into the workforce.
Randy Kochevar, Director
The EDC Oceans of Data Institute