Employers say the ideal candidate must have more than traditional market-research skills: the ability to find patterns in millions of pieces of data streaming in from different sources, to infer from those patterns how customers behave and to write statistical models that pinpoint behavioral triggers.
At e-commerce site operator Etsy Inc., for instance, a biostatistics Ph.D. who spent years mining medical records for early signs of breast cancer now writes statistical models to figure out the terms people use when they search Etsy for a new fashion they saw on the street.
To get help, employers are increasingly looking to an elite program called Insight Data Science Fellows Program, which helps funnel doctoral candidates from fields like astrophysics, neuroscience and math into the profession. The program, based near Stanford University and funded by tech companies, has a 100% placement rate.
Some of the companies in Silicon Valley which are part of the Fellows program