There’s never been a better time to start learning data science.

As early as 2011, McKinsey was predicting shortages of skilled data scientists (and noting big data as a key factor in business competition).

They were right.

As 2015 begins, the data industry has never looked brighter for people with exceptional data skill.

Indeed, in 2014, hiring data scientists became so absurdly difficult that it was compared to hunting unicorns.

Skilled data scientists are extremely rare. And rare things are valuable.

Right now the average data scientist earns a salary on the order of $120,000 per year.

Even with those high salaries, companies still can’t hire the right people.

It’s going to get better for data scientists

Salaries are high because of simple economics: supply and demand. There aren’t enough data scientists to meet the demands of firms who need to hire them.

What’s important is that this demand is being driven by the explosion of data over the last few years (and how that data is becoming a key factor in business competition).

This is important because on top of the existing flood of data, we’re on the verge of creating new torrents of data from new sources.

Ubiquitous sensors and the continued explosion of big data

As we enter 2015, we’re starting to see new product classes that are instrumented with a variety of sensors.

The best example of these new products are wearables.

For example, Apple and Samsung are releasing watches that are packed with sensors. These sensors can measure a list of biometrics such as body temperature, heart rate, and movement (and the list of metrics will get longer in coming years).

Other wearables like shirts and other clothing items will be launched this year that will be instrumented with sensors.

In the broader category of connected IoT devices, we’re starting to see everything from connected thermostats to drinking glasses that detect what you’re drinking.

These connected products are made possible by the fact that sensors are becoming smaller and easier to fabricate. As sensors become smaller and cheaper, we’re going to see them added to a wider range of products.

Ultimately, this doesn’t end with wearables or IoT home-office devices. As predicted by companies like HP and IBM, we are instrumenting the planet.

wiring-the-plannet

At some stage, we’ll be instrumenting not just our bodies and homes, but buildings and infrastructure. We’ll be adding smaller and more sensitive sensors. We’re in the process of wiring the world.

From the perspective of a data scientist, you need to realize that nearly all of these sensors will be throwing off a continuous stream of data.

Big data is going to get much, much bigger.

The Future of Data Science

That’s why I’m so optimistic about the data industry.

There’s already more data than companies can analyze.

There’s already a talent war for skilled data scientists.

And we’re about to instrument the world in such a way that will cause data to grow astronomically.

As “big data” becomes astronomically large, data scientists will become increasingly valuable.

Start learning now.

It’s already great to be a data scientist, and it’s about to get even better.