How To Learn Big Data [7 Places To Start in 2022]

Alexander LindleyAlexander Lindley | 9 minute read | June 30, 2022
How To Learn Big Data [7 Places To Start in 2022]

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In the digital world, big data is everywhere. Every website you visit, post you share, and comment you make generates data that the big data process scoops up. And almost everything you see online—ads, search results, your social media timelines—is the result of big data tracking your movements and preferences.

To some people, that might sound a little spooky. To others, it sounds like a great career opportunity. And it is—big data is a growing field with importance in almost every industry.

For those who want to learn big data, however, there’s a problem: Where do you even start to learn something that is so enormous and constantly changing? Not to worry. We have seven ideas to get you started. 

What Is Big Data?

Big data refers to huge sets of information gathered through processes like data mining and large-scale surveys. Typically, these are data sets that grow over time. Careers in big data involve gathering, processing, and analyzing this data.

Big data can be divided into two key categories: 

learn big data - Data Categories
Source: Law To Mated
  1. Structured data. This refers to data that is usually in the form of numbers and is easy to store and format.
  2. Unstructured data. This refers to data that is more difficult to quantify, such as a repository of all of the general subjects of comments made on a social media platform.

In discussions and analysis of the data sets that compose big data, keep the “Three V’s” in mind:

  1. Volume. This is the total amount of data in a given set.
  2. Velocity. This is the speed at which the data grows over time.
  3. Variety. This is the comprehensiveness of the data included in the set.

Is Big Data Hard To Learn?

When you get an idea of the sheer amount of data involved in big data analytics, you might assume that it is hard to learn. But that assumption is wrong.

Here’s why: To learn big data, you just need to learn how data is harvested, processed, stored, and analyzed. 

While it’s not the simplest skill set in the world, it is certainly not hard to learn how big data works and what a data scientist does.

Related Read: Data Scientist Job Description

How Long Does It Take To Learn Big Data?

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How long it takes you to learn big data will depend on the following factors:

  • Your existing knowledge of data, statistics, and analytics.
  • Your desired area of focus in the realm of big data, such as logistics or advertising.
  • Your affinity for analytical tasks.

Each of those factors can affect how long it takes to learn big data, but it’s reasonable to take four to six months to understand the basics of big data.

Learn Big Data: Where To Start

Ready to learn big data? You have options. Here are seven places to start learning big data:

Take a Free Course

Big data is a big topic, and like any big topic, there are plenty of popular courses that cover it. Luckily, many of those courses are completely free to take. Check out some of these free courses to help you learn big data:

Utilize Free Resources

Free courses aren’t the only free resource out there for those who want to launch a career in big data. You’ll find a wealth of big data knowledge in these free online resources:

Blogs

There is no shortage of active blogs covering both basic and advanced topics in data science. Here are three of the best big data blogs:

Follow Big Data Influencers

One of the best ways to build the data science career path you want is to follow in the footsteps of those who already have the career you’re after. You can do that—and learn a ton about big data in the process—by following these big data influencers and industry experts:

YouTube Channels 

If you’re more of a visual learner, YouTube is going to be one of your favorite free resources for learning big data. Here are some of the best big data YouTube channels to follow:

Do an Internship

Nothing compares to hands-on learning experience when you’re trying to learn something, and that’s particularly true for big data. One of the best ways to learn big data is to get an internship. 

You should have plenty of internships in data science, analytics, statistics, and related fields to choose from. If you’re looking for a high-profile internship to give your career an early boost, check out these top five big data internships:

  1. The Amazon Data Science Internship
  2. The Microsoft Data & Applied Sciences Internship
  3. The Google Data Scientist Internship
  4. The IBM Data Science Internship
  5. The J.P. Morgan AI & Data Science Analyst Program

Work on Projects

Some people learn best by doing. If that describes you, you may want to consider working on a data science project. Here are a few data science projects and their source code to get you started:

Related Read: 19 Fun Data Sets to Analyze and Level Up Your Portfolio

Search Engine

Search engines are built on unbelievably large and complex databases, and this project allows you to build one that uses Wikipedia data sets. Get the source code here.

learn big data - search engine

Big Data Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a growing concern in a wide variety of fields, including big data. Use this project to learn how to apply real-world cybersecurity considerations to massive data sets. Get the source code here.

learn big data - cybersecurity

Disease Prediction System

Learn how to apply big data to disease prediction based on symptoms with this project. Get the source code here.

learn data science - disease prediction symptoms

Tourist Behavioral Analysis

Using this premade big data project, you can learn how to analyze data sets to predict tourism hotspots and future demand at tourist sites. Get the source code here.

data for tourism

Complete a Bootcamp

One of the fastest ways to learn the major concepts of big data is to enroll in a big data bootcamp. There are plenty of online learning solutions here, but not all bootcamps are created equal. Here are some of the leading bootcamps to teach you big data:

Data Analytics Bootcamp From Springboard

  • Bootcamp objective: Prepare students to embark on a successful data analytics career path
  • Who it’s for: Professionals with two years of work experience who are looking to level up their careers
  • Duration: Six months
  • Fees: Deferred payment: $417 USD per month after you begin your guaranteed job in big data (other fee options available)
  • Perks: Springboard offers a get-a-job guarantee with this data analytics bootcamp.

WeCloudData

  • Bootcamp objective: To teach the essential skills for jobs in big data
  • Who it’s for: Students looking for an alternative to a master’s program for data analytics
  • Duration: 3.5 months
  • Fees: $15,400 CAD
  • Perks: This program connects students with hands-on practice through real projects for clients and provides post-graduation job search support.

Coding Nomads

  • Bootcamp objective: To help students use machine learning and data science to make data-driven decisions
  • Who it’s for: Those interested in data science and deep learning and who have Python and object-oriented programming skills
  • Duration: 12 weeks
  • Fees: $2,499 USD
  • Perks: The paid intensive bootcamp program offers one-on-one support.

Data Science Dojo

  • Bootcamp objective: To give students the skills required to become data scientists
  • Who it’s for: Mid-career professionals with knowledge of Python and similar programming languages
  • Duration: 16 weeks
  • Fees: $2,799 USD
  • Perks: This bootcamp offers post-completion resources like public data sets, tutorials, and learning materials.

INE (Formerly RMOTR)

  • Bootcamp objective: To teach the fundamentals of big data and how they intersect with python
  • Who it’s for: Those interested in big data who have at least a basic understanding of the python programming language
  • Duration: Multiple courses (some self-paced learning)
  • Fees: $349 USD
  • Perks: This program offers a lower price point than many other courses, as well as various courses to choose from within the bootcamp.

Get a Certification

If you would prefer a slower-pace and more traditional big data learning environment, consider these big data courses and certifications:

DASCA (Data Science Council of America)

  • Course objective: To earn the Associate Big Data Analyst certification from the DASCA
  • Who it’s for: Young professionals and recent graduates looking to break into data analytics
  • Duration: Up to six months
  • Fees: $585 USD
  • Perks: This certification comes with a digitally badged credential that is widely recognized in the big data sphere.

Cornell University

  • Course objective: Earn a basic data analysis credential from a top university in the United States
  • Who it’s for: Those interested in learning the basics of data science
  • Duration: Two months
  • Fees: $3,600 USD
  • Perks: This live, instructor-led course provides a career-boosting credential from a well-known university.

Stanford University’s Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate

  • Course objective: To empower students to extract insights from massive data sets to give their employers a competitive advantage.
  • Who it’s for: Data miners, market research professionals, analytics professionals, statisticians, predictive modelers, software engineers, and similar professionals. 
  • Duration: Multiple semesters, depending on precise courses you take within the program
  • Fees: $1,352 USD per unit of credit you take
  • Perks: Get an industry-recognized credential from a respected academic institution.

Take an Entry-Level or Related Job

Ready to start your big data journey right away? Consider applying to entry-level data-related job postings. While someone with more experience or credentials is likely to get the job, you never know—you might get it, and if you do, you will have the perfect opportunity to get real-world big data experience you can leverage into a fantastic career. It may not be your dream job, but it can work.

One way to increase your chances of making this method successful is to look for jobs that are related to big data but not directly about big data. Think statistical analyst, database manager, and similar job roles.

The Benefits of Learning Big Data

You know how to start learning big data, but you may not be entirely convinced that this is the right next step for your career. Here are some benefits of learning big data to help you make your decision:

In-Demand Skills

More than 90 percent of global employers said they planned to hire for roles that involved data analytics in 2022, according to the Monster Future of Work Report. That means great career prospects.

Applicable to Any Industry

Every industry generates, collects, processes, and analyzes data of some kind. Even if the data is just used for advertising or product planning, it’s important and could require the attention of a data scientist.

High-Paying Jobs

In the United States, the mean annual wage for data scientists in 2022 was $108,660, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ever-Changing Industry Offering Lucrative Career Opportunities

With the emergence of tech and media giants like Google, Facebook, TikTok, and more, big data gets bigger. And as it gets bigger, more opportunity to grow your salary arises.

Exponential Industry Growth

According to data from Expert Market Research, the global big data market was worth around $208 billion in 2020. By 2026, it is expected to be worth $450 billion.

FAQs About Learning Big Data

Big data attracts curious minds, so it’s normal to have questions. Fortunately, we have answers. See below.

Can You Teach Yourself Big Data?

While it is possible to teach yourself big data, you will likely need to rely on resources that give you insight and access to large data sets and real-world case studies for how big data is deployed in professional settings. Using self-guided resources and free information in blog posts and videos online, you can teach yourself big data.

Can You Learn Big Data for Free?

Absolutely. Many free courses offer a basic introduction to big data, and you can supplement those with other free resources, such as online articles and videos. However, keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for. In most cases, paid online courses will offer deeper insights and more value to your career growth.

Is Big Data Easy To Learn?

You don’t have to be a PhD-holding expert to learn big data, but you do need to have a curious mind and be dedicated enough to study the basics of data gathering, processing, and analysis. Usually, you can gain a basic understanding of big data fundamentals in the span of a few focused months.

Is Big Data a Good Career Path?

Yes! In fact, it is one of the best careers to enter in 2022. That’s because companies are hiring data scientists at an exponentially growing rate, and many employers say they are planning to hire for crucial roles that involve big data skills. That should give you plenty of motivation to stay focused as you begin to learn big data.

Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in data analytics? You will be after scanning this data analytics salary guide. When you’re serious about getting a job, look into our 40-hour Intro to Data Analytics Course for total beginners, or our mentor-led Data Analytics Bootcamp—there’s a job guarantee.  

Alexander Lindley

About Alexander Lindley

Alex Lindley is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, two sons, dog, and cat. He loves working with words, whether that happens in digital content, print journalism, poetry manuscripts, or pretty much anywhere else. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.