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The Coolest Data Mining Jobs

You probably came across the headlines warning us for the looming shortage in analytical talent. McKinsey estimates are somewhere between 140.000 and 190.000 people for the next few years, and that is U.S. only..   

But before you quit your day job and get retrained, what are the coolest data jobs? We have made a Top 5 list of where to send your resume.

 

1. Data Analist @ NASA 

If you were hoping on your own desk in a shuttle, please apply again in 80 years. However if you want to take a hand in mankind's next giant leap, this is definitely one of the most impactful employers. NASA's data mining department's mission is described as finding issues before they become incidents.

Data miners find, diagnose, predict, and alleviate problems on all missions, finding the clues to safer flights. And with a cost of $450 million per shuttle mission, failure is simply not an option.

If you want to get a feeling on what you''ll be working with and get your hands dirty, check out these algorithms and data sets at DASHlink. 


Applications can be done via NASA's career website


 

 

2. Data analist @ New York Yankees

Or any other team for that matter. Ever since Brad Pitt starred in "Moneyball (2011), people are increasingly aware of the role statistics and analyses play in sports. For baseball, with hardcore fans keeping notebooks with game details for every inning even before the computer era,  this national pastime was bound to become the first sport to seriously incorparate analytics. And when sports get serious, the money get serious...

      You will harness the wealth of data by analyzing and predicting batting performances, evaluating opponent's tendencies, assisting the coach in what player to bring in, calculate optimal team composition based on individual qualities in different situations and well, basically whatever you can come up with to improve performance. Professional baseball teams are not rarely more into -or even embracing- data mining and analytics than big the corporates are. 


Get in the lineup over here.

 

 

3. Gaming data analist

Do you understand statistics and know what makes gameplay design stand out from the crowd? Are you ready to handle truly big data generated by millions of game sessions to help game developers make better decisions in game design? And most of all, do you love gaming? Make sure to check out the big game developer's websites on a regular base, cause they are hiring!  

 

For those of you born before Pac Man: video games have outgrown the arcade hall & developed to a multi-billion dollar industry, enforcing their teams with the best data analysts in the market. Next to okay money to be made one of the main perks is the possibility to work for a truly cool company. Don't worry about the right tie, a clean shave and corporate chit-chat at your job interview, worry about amazing them with your hardcore coding skills and multidisciplinary understanding of gaming. The biggest players will generally let you use your own preferred software, but be prepared to get your hands dirty with some hardcore SQL, Hive/Hadoop and Python.


Pick your winning team at EA gamesRiot GamesROCK STAR GAMES or Activision.


 

4. Data Journalist @ The Guardian

the_guardian.jpg

In the digital world facts have become data, so it makes sense the ultimate fact-checkers have a whole new discipline of their own: Data Journalism. 

 

With a vast and growing source of .. well sources.. , data of interest to journalists is increasingly available on the web. With initiatives as Opengov even governments, always of special interest to journalists, are opening up and sharing their data. Either if you want to check your members of parliament's expenses and create a scandal or investigate deeper relations between unemployment and crime, data is often unstructured and sparsely spread over sources, so some basic programming skills come in handy. 


Some nice examples of Data Journalism are: GapMinder , Texas government salary investigation,  Visualization of the Iraq war and the British Class Calculator.


If Data Journalism wants to become mainstream, the next step it has to make is to drop the  focus on cool infographics and start telling the story again. The data-based story.

 

 

5. Obama’s campaign data strategist

Okay, in spite of the fact that it is quite unlikely that Obama will have a third term.. we had to sneak this one in.  Perhaps the most impactful data analyses job in this list. 

Don't take it personal -or political - , the main reason we mention the Democrat's team is that The republican party failed to set up a successful data strategy team.

And, I admit, since we are from Europe, we tend to cheer for Obama just a little bit louder.


Over a hundred engineers, developers, data scientists and plain old hackers teamed up in Obama's Chicago headquarters, contributing to the 2012 victory. As Harper Reed (campaign CTO) described, what they did was making technology a "force multiplier". Reed's task was to create a data mining infrastructure to target voters, both for their money and their votes.

       So what would a day on the job look like? Well to begin with, your teammates would be extremely experienced, former Google, Facebook, Twitter and Quora empoyees. Working on building tools with names like 'the Facebook Blaster'and the 'People Matcher with tools like ...well whatever kind of tool does the job.  With their hacking mentality, no one will force you to use any kind of tooling.  if you are good with Python, use Python, better with Rails, Rails it is. The challenge is to get the answer, not to find the best way to it. Or as Reed states: "We have to elect the President. We don't need to sell our software to Oracle". 


You wonder, with so much brains and data-street-smartness, did this team build Direct Marketing's Supermachine? The  core of the machine are response models, multichannel with a focus on online, so what makes its purpose differ from the campaign management software the bulk of marketing departments use?

...Or perhaps the Supermachine is the team itself?

I vote for the last option. Being part of the most data-driven presidential campaign is a great resume booster, as we saw in June this year, when Google's Eric Schmidt hired almost the entire team to work for Google.