10 reasons why Data Scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century (or not)

Isabel Caballero

Data Scientist, Travel Intelligence, Amadeus IT Group

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I joined Amadeus’s team of data scientists coming from an Astrophysics background. Although I enjoyed my work, at some point I became interested in ways I could apply the skills I acquired working in Astrophysics to areas outside of academic research. I wanted to directly apply what I had always done (which included a lot of analysis of large amounts of data, programming, modeling, interpretation of results etc). It was at that time I became interested in Big Data and data science, which is meant to be a very sexy job. Here’s why (or why not!):

This new Hubble image shows NGC 1566, a beautiful galaxy located approximately 40 million light-years away

Photo: NASA

  1. It is very rewarding to see how the output of my work directly addresses customers’ needs.

    Having actual feedback from them (as opposed to stars or galaxies) adds motivation to keep working.

  1. One of the reasons working as a Data Scientist is very exciting is the possibility to tell a story from data. This is something that I also enjoyed while I was working in Astrophysics. From the simple light collected by a telescope, one can extrapolate the whole story of an emitting star or galaxy. When I joined the Amadeus Travel Intelligence

    team, I exchanged photons for passengers, but this aspect of my daily work has otherwise remained unchanged.

  1. Big Data is a rather new field and it is constantly evolving, making it a very exciting time to work in it. It’s very challenging to keep learning and to stay up to date, plus it’s necessary to remain flexible and to be able to adapt to new tools and technologies when needed.
  1. Data Science can be applied to very diverse fields

    including the travel industry, of course, but it can also help people make better (and better-informed) decisions in other areas such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail, education, public administrations,  and economic development.

  1. I cannot forget perhaps the most obvious reason; There is an increasing demand

    for Data Scientists (the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the “United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people [by 2018] with deep analytical skills”). This makes it very exciting, as there are many diverse opportunities and fields where it is possible to work as a Data Scientist.

  1. Data Science is accessible to everyone. 

    Today it is very easy to have access to computing resources and large amounts of public data. Almost anyone can do interesting and different things with data.

  1. There are many opportunities

    for people with research and academic backgrounds to contribute to Big Data projects. Many programs have been set up to help with the transition from academia to data science, for instance the Insight Data Science Fellows Program in the US and Science to Data Science in Europe. Data Science is also increasingly present in university programs.

  1. There are other aspects of working as a Data Scientist which are less sexy, but still important. A very harsh part of the work, which is both fundamental and time-consuming, is the process of cleaning the data, dealing with inconsistencies, and assessing the data quality.

    It is not a very visible part of the work, and not one that is a lot of fun, but it is necessary in order to obtain reliable results.

  1. Fortune

    magazine called Data Scientist ¨the nerdy-cool job that companies are scrambling to fill¨. It can be challenging to integrate academic research aspects into a corporate culture. Often, we don´t have the option or the space to explain the details of the methods that were used to achieve a result. Therefore the ability to communicate with different teams is a fundamental part of a Data Scientist’s work.

  1. The term ‘Data Scientist’ has several meanings and interpretations. 

    When I decided to look for a job in data science, I had many interviews for positions with Data Scientist in the title. But every job offer was completely different, ranging from data base administrator to business analyst. Tom Davenport, who described the role and called it the sexiest job of the 21st century, has more recently written that It´s already time to kill the Data Scientist title. It is therefore really important to know what you want to do when you search for a position in Data Science, as Data Scientist is a very broad and ambiguous term!

Editor’s note: It’s been labelled the sexiest profession of the 21st Century, one where demand has raced ahead of supply, a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted advisor. Data Scientists are people with the skill set (and the mind-set) to tame Big Data technologies and put them to good use. But what kind of person does this? Who has that powerful –and rare- combination of skills?  In this series, Amadeus’ team of Data Scientists seek to unlock the answers to those questions and their impact on travel.


Big Data