The success and failure of a company depend on the decisions it takes on key issues. Decisions are not always perfect, However, the accuracy of decisions can be improved if there is enough data on the situation under consideration.
Data scientists help companies take data-driven decisions.They require multiple skill sets to be an expert in the field. A combination of programming, statistics and Machine learning skills are essential to becoming a top data scientist. A perfect blend of these skills is rare and naturally Data Science as a career option has a huge demand in the job market. A lot of youngsters want to become a data scientist, but they have no clue where to start.
Programming: You can choose either R or Python. I would recommend Python as it is super easy to learn. Practice is the only way to master any language. Solving problems in Codechef or SPOJ can help you get a good grip on the language. You should be familiar with different libraries of Python like the Pandas. Data scientists play a key role in the development of Data driven products.
Statistics: Good knowledge in statistics is what differentiates Excellent data scientists from the mediocre. You should be familiar with statistical tests, distributions. A thorough understanding of the basic concepts is required to move forward.
Machine Learning: As a starter, I would recommend taking the courses of Andrew Ng. You should know the basics of the most important algorithms like Linear regression, Naive Bayes, k-Nearest Neighbors (kNN) etc. Machine learning is a bit hard at first for a starter but when you dig a little deeper, it is very interesting.
You cannot become a data scientist overnight. You need to master programming, statistics and Machine learning to have a strong foundation in data science. It takes self-motivation effort and patience to become a top gun in data science. Work hard, a bright future is waiting for you.