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Creating Pathways for Big Data Careers

It seems that every day a new article appears proclaiming that “The Big Data Future Has Arrived” (Wall Street Journal) or “Why Data Scientist is This Year’s Hottest Job” (Computer World). A quick perusal of these articles suggests not only that the use of big data is expanding, but the number and diversity of data-intensive jobs is increasing exponentially to keep pace. This is creating opportunities for individuals with a broad range of experience and training – from Ph.D. data scientists to high school interns spending their summers doing data entry.

A new National Science Foundation-funded program at the Oceans of Data Institute is focusing somewhere in between. Collaborating with a group of community college partners, project leaders Joyce Malyn-Smith and Joe Ippolito are working to identify those “middle-level” data-intensive careers which demand specialized skills and training, but which do not necessarily involve a four-year degree or graduate studies.

Called Creating Pathways for Big Data Careers, this project will map out career pathways and associated stackable credentials including associate’s degrees and certificates that will lead to employment in data-intensive fields. These pathways will then be adapted at each of the partner colleges to fit the labor demands of its geographic region: Bunker Hill Community College (MA), Normandale Community College (MN), Johnson County Community College (KS) and Sinclair Community College (Ohio).

The first step in this process will be to create an “occupational profile” of the middle-skilled data specialist, which will identify those skills, knowledge and behaviors required for their work. We are now working to recruit 8-10 individuals who are in middle-level data-intensive jobs so we can learn more about what they do and what kind of training they needed to do it.

This work will be vital to the success of the project, so if you know someone who might fit this description, please put them in touch with us by March 11!


Randy Kochevar, Director
The EDC Oceans of Data Institute


Portrait of Randy Kochevar
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