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What Is a Data Science Unicorn?

The Data Science Unicorn

A “data science unicorn” is akin to Micheal Jordan. But instead of the sport of basketball, it’s the game of data science. It’s a term used to describe an individual who has a rare combination of technical and non-technical skills in the field of data science.

As such, a data science unicorn is invaluable to organizations looking to leverage the power of data science to gain a competitive edge. In this article, we will take a look at some of the technical skills and soft skills a data science unicorn will possess.

Technical Skills

A data science unicorn is highly sought after due to its rare combination of technical data science skills and can often command a high salary. From programming to machine learning, here are some of the skills a data science unicorn has proficiency.

  • Programming – Be able to write code in languages such as Python and R.
  • Machine learning – Possesses a wide range of skills in order to effectively use machine learning for their projects.
  • Math and statistics – Knowledge to identify patterns and anomalies in large datasets.
  • Subject matter expertise – Be proficient in the related project topic.
  • Traditional research – Possesses many of the same traditional research skills that academics typically possess.
  • Database technologies – Use database techniques effectively such as SQL and NoSQL

Soft Skills

A data science unicorn has the unique ability to understand the needs of the business. Then, they can translate those into the right data science questions and apply the right techniques to answer those questions accurately and efficiently. 

Here are some of the soft skills of a data science unicorn:

  • Communication – Able to break down complex concepts into easily digestible language.
  • Team building – Engage and energize various team members to complete projects successfully.
  • Project management – Sought out to lead large teams and projects and perform project management roles.
  • Problem-solving – Ability to understand the big picture and to bring order to chaos.
  • Results-oriented – Create innovative solutions from solid technical expertise to complex problems.
Data Science Unicorn Diagram

Conclusion: The Data Science Unicorn

A “data science unicorn” is a term used to refer to an individual who possesses the rare combination of technical skills and business acumen necessary for success in the field of data science. 

These data scientists are rare individuals who are the “total package” in the world of data science. Finally, they are often highly compensated for their skills and are in high demand due to their rare set of capabilities.


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