How to Choose the Data Science Program That’s Right for You

How to Choose the Data Science Program That’s Right for You

How to Choose the Data Science Program That's Right for You - Hero Final

The numbers paint a pretty compelling picture, and all the press articles certainly add to the sense of excitement. Everywhere you look, there’s another story about the incredible demand for skilled data scientists. Just two weeks ago, a story from Bloomberg noted that job listings for data scientists on have increased 75% in just three years. Glassdoor has named Data Scientist the best job in the U.S. three years in a row. IBM is predicting a demand increase of nearly 30% in the next two years.

In short, it is an incredible time to become a Data Scientist.

That’s easier said than done, of course. But that’s where Udacity comes in. No matter where your skills and experience are today, we offer a point-of-entry into the world of data science, and at Udacity, every data learning path ends with you being ready for success in the field.

In this post, I’ll walk you through four of our data-focused Nanodegree programs. I’ll show you what each covers, make clear how they connect, and help you choose the program that’s right for you. In the process, I’ll describe the projects you’ll build, and the skills you’ll learn.

Let’s get started!

The first thing to know is that Udacity offers a group of four different Nanodegree programs focused on data: Data Foundations, Data Analyst, Business Analyst, and Data Scientist. An easy way to understand these programs as a group is to simply go by the program names. Data Foundations is a general program focused on foundational skills, whereas the next three are tailored towards specific roles.

Another way to look at this group is to see them as offering a progression. Data Foundations is a beginner program, Data Analyst and Business Analyst are intermediate offerings, and Data Scientist is an advanced Nanodegree program.

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To better understand this progression, let’s now look at each program separately.

The Data Foundations Nanodegree program is designed for those new to data, who might be looking to skill up in their current roles, or who are ready to embark on the path to a new data career. In this program, you learn to analyze data and create data visualizations as you develop proficiency with Excel, SQL, and Tableau. These skills are broadly applicable to just about any field or role, and they’ll also give you a great start to a data career.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” —Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes

The Business Analyst Nanodegree program is ideal for an individual who possesses some data experience, and is now looking to add advanced analytics to their skillset, without having to learn to code. In this program, you learn to use predictive analytics techniques such as A/B testing, time series forecasting, and regression modelling, and you gain experience with tools like Alteryx and Tableau. This can be considered a “career-ready” program, but remember, it’s less technical, because it doesn’t focus on coding.

“Business analysts serve as problem solvers, communication conduits, strategic planners and process designers. And yes, successful business analysts are also good at dealing with people.” —Sarah Baker, Business Intelligence Manager, Search Discovery

The Data Analyst Nanodegree program is also a “career-ready” program, but while it’s considered intermediate as well, the content focuses on deeper technical skills. In this program, you begin by learning SQL and Python, and you then get extensive experience using them to wrangle, analyze, and visualize various types and quantities of data.

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” —Peter Sondergaard, SVP, Gartner Research

The Data Scientist Nanodegree program is our most advanced data offering, and it is designed for experienced data analysts, and programmers who are looking to level up and become data scientists. To enroll in this program, you should come in with strong programming and data analysis skills, as well as have some understanding of calculus and linear algebra. Over the course of this program, you develop a broad set of cutting-edge data skills, including machine learning, data engineering, experiment design, and recommendations systems.

“Data scientists are involved with gathering data, massaging it into a tractable form, making it tell its story, and presenting that story to others.” –Mike Loukides, VP, O’Reilly Media

When it comes to deciding which program to enroll in, here’s a simplified process for how you can reach the right decision:

Q: Do you have data skills already?
A: If “no,” then choose Data Foundations. If “yes,” proceed to the next question.

Q: Do you have a strong background in Python, SQL, and statistics?
A: If “no,” then proceed to the next question. If “yes,” choose Data Scientist.

Q: Do you want to develop strong programming skills?
A: If “no,” then choose Business Analyst. If “yes,” enroll in the Data Analyst Nanodegree program.

How to Choose the Data Science Program That's Right for You - Flow 2 Final

Udacity firmly embraces lifelong learning, so there isn’t really any such thing as a “terminal degree” in our world. But for the purposes of making your decision to enroll today, you can think of the Business Analyst, Data Analyst, and Data Scientist Nanodegree programs as “terminal degrees” for their respective roles, in that you’ll learn everything you need to know to start working in the field. We say this based on the proprietary insights we receive from our curriculum and hiring partners, because thanks to their input, we know that in each of these programs, you’ll learn exactly the skills top companies are seeking.

The Data Foundations and Data Analyst Nanodegree programs are also steps along a journey towards becoming a Data Scientist. If that’s your end goal, then we offer a complete path to getting there, from having no data experience, to understanding everything from creating an image classifier to designing a recommendation engine.

No matter which program you choose today, you’ll benefit from personalized mentorship, expert project review, and robust support from all our teams. You’ll build hands-on projects, and create an outstanding portfolio of work. You’ll become part of a dynamic community of data enthusiasts, and you’ll establish a valuable professional network.

Enroll today. It’s an incredible time to join the world of data!


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