Analytics, big data, and data science are hot areas in the industry, and professionals who have these skills are in high demand. Some reports put annual salaries for data scientists at above the $200,000 mark. Career site Glass Door rated data scientist as the top job for work-life balance, which is not anything that's easy to come by these days.
The demand for data scientists, analysts, and big data experts is strong, and educational institutions are scrambling to meet the demand. But do you really need to go back to school to get another degree in order to establish yourself in a career as a data scientist? Maybe not.
There are plenty of other ways for aspiring data scientists and analytics experts to prove their worth to potential employers. For instance, Kaggle offers competitions that enable new data scientists to show off their knowledge and expertise. This site is a common hunting ground for recruiters looking to hire the best and the brightest in data science.
[Looking for job security in an ever-changing market? Read 10 Programming Languages That Will Keep You Employed.]
How do you gain the basic skills? There are a plethora of free online courses available today -- some from well-known and respected universities, others from popular providers of massive open online classes (MOOC) -- offering help with the skills you need to succeed.
There is something for everyone online. Offerings include essential data science development languages, such as R and Python, overviews of the technologies available in the Apache Hadoop ecosystem that demonstrate how they work together, and coverage of advanced topics, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Some free online courses are self-paced, which means participants don't have the potential to create study groups or ask questions of the instructors. Others are conducted in real-time, and so give you the chance to interact with classmates and instructors. Some offer exercises and opportunities to practice the skills taught, while other courses provide only an overview. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks.
All of the courses featured here are free of charge. This means you can get a taste of data science and analytics without committing to a big capital investment in your education. If you are looking to add analytics and data science to your skill set, here are some great places to start.
Once you've reviewed our list, let us know in the comments section below whether you've tried any of the options. Is data science a career direction you're planning to pursue? Are there any programs you've loved that we missed in our compilation? Tell us all about it.