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Big Data Education, Training Opportunities on the Rise

Yesterday's announcement of a new master's degree program for data scientists at the University of California, Berkeley is among the latest examples of how educators and trainers are scrambling to meet the huge Big Data skills gap.

The UC Berkeley School of Information in January will offer the first classes in what it describes as "the country’s first fully online Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) degree program."

The new program "is in response to a dramatically growing need for well-trained big data professionals who can organize, analyze and interpret the deluge of often messy and unorganized data available from the Web, sensor networks, mobile devices and elsewhere," said AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the School of Information.

The school cited last year's report by the McKinsey Global Institute that projected by 2018 a potential shortage in the U.S. of 140,000 to 190,000 people with Big Data analytical skills and perhaps 1.5 more managers and analysts who can effectively use the collected information.

Wikibon further highlighted the issue in an April report. "One of the most pressing barriers of adoption for Big Data in the enterprise is the lack of skills around Hadoop administration and Big Data analytics skills, or data science," the report said. "In order for Big Data to truly gain mainstream adoption and achieve its full potential, it is critical that this skills gap be overcome."

Besides UC Berkeley, several other educational institutions and other organizations are striving to provide Big Data education, some in innovative new ways. Even the U.S. Navy is getting into the act, as noted in today's announcement that naval officers will be trained in related skills at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In a three-year agreement,the officers will be enrolled in the Information Technology and Web Science program at the institute. "Understanding large amounts of information is critical to our future national security and it is an honor to be involved in training Navy officers in how to work in the world of Big Data and IT," said Laurie Leshin, dean of the institute's School of Science.

And while the UC Berkeley program may be too expensive for some (some $60,000, according to Wired), other cheaper--and much less extensive--alternatives are available. The Sloan School of Management at MIT, for example, will offer a $1,950 Big Data 4Dx online program in October. Students will hook into live sessions of the Big Data program on campus for two days. There are also loads of free courses available, such as some offered by Big Data University.

Of course, private industry is also getting into the act, especially among major players who have a vested interest in moving Big Data technology forward. Examples include Cloudera, Hortonworks, EMC and IBM.

So, as this week's announcements illustrate, current data developers and novices alike are getting more and more opportunities to cash in on the Big Data phenomenon.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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