Is Data Science Hard? Know the Reality

avcontentteam 14 Aug, 2023 • 8 min read


The demand for proficient data scientists has been rising in the last few years, but the landscape has transformed with AI. The emphasis has shifted from routine tasks to more complex roles. A solid grasp of the latest data science advancements is now essential for a promising career. Is data science hard? While no learning path is inherently easy or hard, data science does entail a steep learning curve. However, maintaining a continuous drive to stay updated can make the journey smoother, despite the challenges.

Is It Worth It to Learn Data Science?

Companies mostly run by leveraging the potential of data for decisions. The task is performed using the technological advancements contributed through data science. It is handled by professionals who excel in the field. Thus, the field holds promising opportunities for individuals opting for it as a career and organizations using it for their growth. Providing numerous challenges and the platform to continuously evolve, the field is highly dynamic and perfect for polishing one’s mindset and knowledge. The high worth of data science makes the question “Is data science hard” worthless.

Read this article to know if Data Science is a good career option or not!

Do Data Scientists Code?

Data scientists deal with voluminous amounts of data. Working on these requires proficiency in programming languages R and Python. Handling such data necessarily requires basic knowledge of coding for:

  • Cleaning, preprocessing and data transformation 
  • Help communicate insights through libraries and tools in Python and R like Matplotlib and ggplot2. 
  • Statistical analysis, machine learning and data modeling
  • Create customized solutions for the data related problems 
  • Repeated tasks like data preprocessing, result evaluation and model training
  • Quick idea and hypothesis testing
  • Pattern identification through algorithms 
Code exemplifying prototyping in Python
Source: Towards AI

The Multifaceted Nature of Data Science

Data science is a vast field encompassing numerous areas:

  • Statistics: Understanding probability, regression analysis, hypothesis testing and experimental design is crucial for accurate and meaningful analysis. 
  • Programming and data manipulation: With knowledge of programming languages like several data optimization techniques and specialized software 
  • Domain knowledge: This may include industry-specific knowledge, business processes and the ability to overcome challenges by posing the right questions, selecting relevant features and results interpretation
  • Communication: With the ability to interact and communicate with both technical and non-technical audiences while clearly and precisely making yourself understood 

The information indicates the relevance of the technical expertise required to handle the data, process and communicate it. With industry-specific knowledge and the ability to combat the problems, the efficiency in data science increases multiple folds aiding the business and career of individuals. 

Learning Curve and Continuous Learning

Data science is a constantly evolving field that requires continuous learning. The learning curve for beginners is steep, owing to the challenges faced in learning programming languages. 

So, “Is data science hard?” No, individuals with familiar knowledge and an interest in the field do not find it difficult. Though, the regular and rapid advancements in the field of data science add to the requirement of continuous learning to remain updated in the field. 

For instance, the current advancement is the introduction of automated machine learning and edge computing. Top data science trends are TinyML, small data, the convergence of technologies, auto ML and others. To help you begin your career or remain updated, Analytics Vidhya brings you certified BB+ programs

Complexity of Data Handling

Data handling is a complex task needing professional and expert handling. Working on the data accompanies challenges like :

  • Messy datasets comprise inconsistent data, errors, outliers, and missing values that require identification and rectification of errors. 
  • The data may also be present in different units and scales that affect the algorithm. You need to normalize and scale them.
  • Algorithms require encoded data only. The categorical data hence needs preprocessing to avoid hierarchical treatment of variables like product type, location or gender. 
  • Handling large datasets leads to dimensionality, where the effect is observed in model efficiency and accuracy. The challenge is solved by techniques like Principal Component Analysis (PCA) that remove dimensionality and retain important information. 
  • Textual data require special preprocessing techniques such as stemming, sentiment analysis and tokenization. 
  • Challenges are also witnessed in working on time-dependent data due to the requirement to consider periodicity, trends and seasonality. 
  • The complexity lies in the presence of diverse data sources, volume, quality and incorporation of real-time data. 
  • The presence of diverse data such as structured, unstructured and semi-structured data and tasks like scalability, security, replication and backup may come up with unannounced challenges during the action. 
  • It brings forward challenges in query performance, data integration, data versioning and data privacy and compliance. 

Statistical and Mathematical Rigor

Statistics is vital for analyzing data patterns, identifying correlations, and making predictions. It’s essential for hypothesis testing, probability, and more. Proficiency in complex algorithms and statistical models requires understanding calculus, linear algebra, and probability. Concepts like Bayesian inference, deep learning, and ensemble methods demand focused attention. Proper hyperparameter configuration, model fine-tuning, and data preprocessing add to the intricacies of mastering data science.

Also Read: End to End Statistics for Data Science

Coding and Programming Skills

Knowledge of programming languages is an unasked necessity for any aspirant. Though with a steep learning curve, you gain proficiency and expertise with time. Proficiency in languages like Python and/or R is of utmost significance in data science for: 

Data Manipulation

The pandas library is necessarily required for this task for cleaning, transformation and preprocessing of large datasets. It provides a DataFrame structure that eases the usage of filters and aids in reshaping and aggregating the data easily. The R’s dplyr and tidyr are packages where dplyr offers the easy option for filtering, summarizing, and grouping data, and tidyr helps to reshape data in a structured format and optimize it for analysis. 

Data Analysis

The scikit-learn library in Python offers an extensive collection of machine learning algorithms for data analysis. Similarly, statsmodels in Python also provide tools required for traditional statistical analysis such as ANOVA, time series modeling and regression. R also has two packages, caret and glmnet, significantly used due to unified interfaces and for their fitting regularized linear models. 

Data Visualization

Matplotlib and Seaborn in Python create static and creative visualizations through plot creation and higher-level statistical plots. Ggplot2 offered by R is renowned for extensive offerings on graphics to create complex and informative visualizations with concise code. It is widely used for data exploration and storytelling. 

Data wrangling through dplyr and tidyr in R program | Is Data Science Hard
Source: Aud H. Halbritter

Business Acumen and Communication

Understanding the business domain aligns data science with market changes, enhancing strategic decisions. It optimizes resource allocation, enabling growth and risk management. Cross-functional collaboration, investment justification, and impact measurement improve with business knowledge. Effective communication is vital. It aids in goal setting, data handling, feedback loops, and model validation.

Communication challenges include simplifying jargon, abstracting complex info, and providing context. Fluently summarizing avoids misrepresentation. Addressing non-technical stakeholders with context prevents misinterpretation. Communication should lead to actionable insights and relate to business decisions, ensuring relevance and easy understanding.

Also Read: The Understated Art of Data Storytelling

Overcoming Challenges

Data science is an interesting field with numerous opportunities. Moving forward with a few tips and tricks simplifies the journey. Here are a few of them to encourage and speed you up: 

  • Problem-centric learning: Focus on the application part while concerning real-world problems to ease your transition from the book to the practical aspect. 
  • Reverse engineering: Begin with end-to-end solutions before heading out to the technicalities. Reverse engineer the projects to comprehend their method of creation for a holistic understanding. 
  • Borrow concepts: Broaden your spectrum of knowledge and jump into other fields like design thinking, psychology or sociology for novel insights to approach data analysis and interpretation. 
  • Mnemonic visualization: Leverage the potential of diagrams, mind maps, and summarization in one page for memory retention and comprehension. 
  • Storytelling practice: Take up the task to enhance your communication skills. Explain it to a child or person, not from your background. Incorporate analogies and metaphors. Check their level of understanding based on your explanation. 
  • Enroll in courses: It creates the biggest impact on your journey, providing full proof of your learning and trust in your knowledge. It provides the right platform to gain hands-on experience. 
  • Projects: Explore the field if you are not pursuing the course. Interact and build relations with the seniors and professors and offer yourself help. You will learn and gain familiarity enough to build the base. 
  • Seek mentorship: Mentoring is a responsible task. However, knowledge givers are keen to mentor individuals who are passionate and hungry for learning. Show yours effectively to gain a mentor. 

Demystifying the Difficulty

Analytics Vidhya presents success stories of individuals from diverse backgrounds who have forged prosperous careers in data science. These candidates, driven by their determination to overcome challenges, share their journeys and the strategies that guided them to their current professional achievements. Let’s get acquainted with two of these inspiring learners:

Nirmal Budhathoki: Senior Data Scientist at Microsoft

In the digital age, data’s power is harnessed by skilled individuals shaping the tech future. One such trailblazer is Mr. Nirmal, a Senior Data Scientist at Microsoft. From humble origins, his journey epitomizes perseverance and brilliance. This success story unveils his rise, projects, impact, and lessons, providing insights for thriving in the dynamic field of data science.

Jaiyesh Chahar: Data Scientist at Siemens

Jaiyesh Chahar, a Petroleum Engineer turned Data Scientist, shares his educational journey, the inspiration behind his switch to data science, and his experiences in the field. With a strong background in petroleum engineering and a passion for mathematics, Jaiyesh found his calling in data science. We delve into his journey, the challenges he faced, and his advice for those interested in pursuing a career in data science.

Online Courses to Learn Data Science 

Embarking on a journey to become a data scientist requires expert guidance and a well-defined strategy. With Analytics Vidhya, you have access to mentors who possess specific knowledge and can seamlessly guide you through the transition from your current domain to a successful data science career. Our online platform offers meticulously curated data science programs that cater to diverse candidate needs. By considering every aspect of learning and work, our programs are flexible, allowing you to learn at your own pace.

Moreover, our focus is not just on theoretical concepts but also on practical applications. We understand the significance of real-world insights in securing a job, and thus, our programs heavily emphasize real-world projects, enabling you to gain hands-on experience. The international validity and recognition of our certificate further enhance your career prospects. Engaging in our program grants you access to 1:1 mentorship sessions, ensuring personalized guidance throughout your journey.

Enroll in our Blackbelt Program, a comprehensive path that will equip you with the skills needed for success in data science, AI, and ML.


Data science presents a vast field that is not a cakewalk. A firm determination, along with the will to learn and overcome challenges while gaining expertise to become the top data scientist, is the driving factor to success. Getting the right course and mentor aids in climbing the ladder of opportunities that aid in the long run. Additionally, look for networking and collaboration while gaining hands-on experience and building your skills to reach the end of the path. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is data science a hard skill?

A. Data science is a combination of both hard and soft skills requiring technical expertise and analytical skills. 

Q2. What is the hardest thing about data science?

A. One of the hardest things about dealing with data science is dealing with messy real-world data requiring multiple actions on processing. Further, choosing the right method or combination is also difficult as the actions accompany previously unknown and unfaced challenges.  

Q3. Should a data scientist know everything?

A. No, the data scientist is not expected to know everything. But the candidate must be open to a multidisciplinary approach and must have a foundation in at least one or more areas. 

Q4. Is data science hard for non-IT students?

A. The beginning is challenging for non-IT students, but constant learning helps you get familiar with and gain technical expertise and relevant skills. 

avcontentteam 14 Aug 2023

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