Big data careers: Taking the initiative to improve your skill set

Expert Matt Mueller offers advice to data management pros who are interested in developing their big data skill set.

Many companies that are considering implementing Hadoop clusters find there's a lack of professionals with big data expertise. How can data management pros grow their big data skills to take advantage of this emerging need?

Whenever a newer tool or technology becomes hot, there will be a need for professionals to update their skills, and there will be a lack of experienced users. For example, there are software companies right now trying to develop a better tool than Hadoop for big data, and professionals with an interest in big data careers will need to learn how to use it.

I don't believe it is that difficult for data management professionals to grow into the big data area and/or learn Hadoop. The different tools, more sources of data and more data itself all pose challenges, but the underlying fundamentals are still the same for data management professionals. It is a logical progression for data management pros to expand their skill sets to include big data technologies.

The underlying issue is most companies don't want to train their employees or hire new employees who don't have almost the exact skill set to align with what is needed for an immediate project. Business trends reflect our society's general craving for instant gratification. Far too many times, companies look for an experienced Hadoop developer for months when they could have trained their own people in far less time, and usually for far less expense than hiring someone externally.

I would recommend taking a Hadoop class and letting your employer or potential employers know you have an interest in the big data area -- and have invested in taking the training. If your current organization is looking into or is already involved in big data, let your manager know you want to get involved. You can also ask if your company will allow you to do a proof of concept.

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