Skills and knowledge for tomorrow's economy.
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Defining a New Field

What will it take to succeed in the big data jobs of the future?

This fall, ODI decided to find out by assembling a panel of 11 big data professionals. The result was a first-of-its-kind occupational profile listing the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a big data economy.

We can finally announce the results. And they are fascinating.

We learned that analytical thinking and critical thinking were ranked the most essential skills of an effective big-data-enabled specialist. So were problem-solving, applying statistical thinking and knowledge of algorithms. We also learned that successful big data professionals are willing to question and are lifelong learners.

It's these behaviors that are often left out of conversations about what it takes to land a job in a big data field, but which help big data-enabled specialists do innovative, important things with the information they have collected.

The release of this occupational profile comes at a critical time. The market for data-savvy professionals is on the rise, but few schools are preparing people with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field. We hope that this profile can help school administrators, policymakers, and industry personnel develop programs that prepare high-skilled, high-quality professionals for the big data workforce that awaits them.

If you are interested in the intersection of big data, education, and careers, I encourage you to read the profile and contribute to our conversation on Twitter.

With the profiling work complete, our next goal is to find innovative ways to begin teaching these big data skills in K-12 and undergraduate classrooms. It is such an exciting time. Let's get started!


Ruth Krumhansl, Director
The EDC Oceans of Data Institute

Portrait of Ruth Krumhansl

Validated by over 150 professionals in big data career fields, the occupational profile represents an important step towards identifying the skills and knowledge that are needed for the careers of the future.

Want to learn how your school, organization, or company can use the profile? Contact Ruth Krumhansl.

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