ORLANDO, Fla. — It has been called the "sexiest job of the 21st century," with 5,000 open positions right now in Florida.
A brand new program at the University of Central Florida is teaching students to dominate in a field begging for skilled workers.
- UCF program teach students to dominate data science field
- Data scientist named most popular job on Glassdoor
- UCF said they'll keep taking apps for program until July
“We are the first in Florida. And one of the few in the nation that teaches data science, technical, in-depth components," said Dr. Ivan Garibay.
For the past 20 years, Garibay has taught at the University of Central Florida. But the professor of industrial engineering said that with the plethora of data — from cell phones and bank transactions to social media -- the university recently launched a program to fill the gap.
“We started in 2013 to look at what is happening in the world," he said. “What we need to translate it is a new breed of technologists, called data scientists."
Data scientists who mine raw data and applications within the field are varied. Data scientists at Walt Disney World, for example, look at how to optimize rides, reducing wait times.
It's a field which is gaining momentum: the most popular job on Glassdoor, with starting salaries above $100,000.
“There is an article in the Harvard Business Review that says data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century," Garibay said.
And demand for this job is here too. Glassdoor lists 20,000 open positions across the country, with almost 5,000 openings for data analysts and scientists in Florida.
UCF graduate students, including Chetan Bisht, flocked to the elite new course to learn programming languages such as Python and R.
“This is a good, hard field to be in right now. Even if you don’t get a job, you get a degree and there is a lot of demand in the market out there," he said.
Bisht, originally from India, works at AMD and designs chips for gaming consoles and laptops; data is his life.
“You can crunch data from a financial company to figure out their daily transactions, or you can crunch data from a fast-moving car," he said.
But the 44-year-old wanted to get ahead. So he landed at UCF and their inaugural Master of Data Analytics program.
“Our promise to all of them: Six months after graduation, they all will be employed as data scientists," Garibay said.
Most found success. Of the 13 students in the program, 12 changed jobs or were promoted as data scientists.
Program valedictorian Bisht was one of them — after receiving all A’s in his courses.
“What everyone’s trying to do is do better with a degree — get a promotion, do things differently, make better products," Bisht said. “Now is the time to have the engineers who can come in, understand the data, put it on the machines and make wonderful things of it.”
“I am very proud of them, every single one of them," Garibay said.
The students graduate in May 2018.
UCF said that they’ll take applications for the popular course of study until mid-July. They have 34 seats for the fall and according to Garibay, have already received more than 100 applications.
CORRECTION: This article was updated at 3:10 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2018 to correct the spelling of UCF grad student Chetan Bisht's name.