Enough Talk of Fake Data Scientists: Time for a Recognized Professional Certification

Board-Certified Data Scientist

I’m a newly-minted data scientist, with my MSc in computing and data analytics degree earned a couple of days ago. Yet, I often hear from other senior data scientists that everyone who does not have their credentials and years of experience are to be classified as “fake” data scientists. Yet these same senior data scientists have huge followings from aspiring data scientists on their blogs. They talk about the path to becoming a data scientist, and then turn around and criticize these same aspiring data scientists and call them “fake.”

Fake Data Scientists

Enough talk of “fake” data scientists…we’ve heard all the arguments to classify these aspiring data scientists as “fake”:

  • they don’t have a PhD;
  • lack of domain expertise;
  • deficit in statistics and applied math skills;
  • don’t have computer science skills;
  • lacking business analysis skills;
  • they don’t have communication skills;
  • their MSc program is suspect;
  • their training program is really statistics repackaged as data science;
  • obtained their skills via certificate programs;
  • they obtained their skills via MOOCS;
  • obtained their skills via self-study;

All these arguments are from articles where these expert data scientists create an elite group for themselves. Yet they make it impossible for junior data scientists to progress in the careers to become elite themselves, and hence calling them “fake” data scientists. I can assure you, there is nothing “fake” about what I do as a data scientist. I have over 15 years experience as a clinical researcher, and now transferring this domain knowledge and expertise to the data science realm.

So enough talk about calling aspiring data scientists as “fake.”

Professional Certification

What we need is a recognized professional certification for data science. This certification would assure that the newly certified data scientist has all the requisite skills, knowledge, and background to actually be called one. We need a certification to identify those who can actually perform the data science role in whatever capacity their job environment calls for. I know there are several data science certifications out there, and I know these all too well. I am an EMC-certified Data Scientist Specialist. Yet after spending much time and money on these certifications, I found out the hard way that nobody recognizes these certifications in industry.

As a real data scientist, and not a “fake” one, I would like to advocate for the advancement of the data science field by establishing a professional licensing board for data scientists. This data science licensing board would establish the standard of practice for data scientists, and have a code of ethics and regulations by which its licensed members would abide. This licensing board would establish the requirements and prerequisites to sit for the licensing examination, and the written exam would be followed by an interview by senior members of the data science community, who would ensure that the potential licensee is indeed a data scientist that is deserving of a license to practice.

No More Name-Calling

Let’s join the rest of the professions, such as medicine, law, and teaching, and advocate for the formation of a professional licensing board for data scientists. Finally, let’s quit calling others “fake”, and start advocating for professional standards in our profession.

Let’s work towards the Board-Certified Data Scientist.

photo credit: Enokson CERTIFIED Rubber Stamp via photopin (license)

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