Data modeling is an essential prerequisite to proper database design, as it clearly establishes the structures, relationships, and flows of data through an organization. This diagramming is important because it ensures the integrity of a company’s data and its interrelationships in the database management system (DBMS) so that it can be relied on for accurate analysis.
Data modeling has become more challenging in the big data era, as vast flows of unstructured, real-time data are not easily classified. However, there are also new tools available for data management professionals. Neo4j, one type of NoSQL database, can help with data modeling by filtering large datasets with graph analytics. And, with Apache Impala’s ability to analyze big data in the cloud, data modelers can create flexible system protocols that can evolve with data growth.
Data modeling is a complex process that demands the ability to precisely understand and diagram business operations, data flows, and data management systems. Database administrators especially rely on data modeling to design and manage an organization’s databases to ensure security, integrity, and freedom from error.
Yes! Coursera offers a wide variety of online courses and Specializations in data modeling, as well as related topics like data warehousing, business intelligence, and big data. You can take courses from top-ranked institutions like the University of California San Diego and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your education for the opportunity to learn online.
Coursera also offers the opportunity to pursue a full Master of Science in Data Science degree from the University of Colorado Boulder. Whether you’re a data science beginner or adding new skills to your resume, data modeling will give you an essential perspective into the structure of an organization’s data operations.
Previous experience or education—at the high school or postsecondary levels—in information science, applied mathematics, or computer science and related topics can help you form the foundation needed to learn about data modeling. A background in business management and information systems management may also be beneficial. Naturally, you'll need good basic computer skills, as well as some experience in areas like database administration, computer architecture, data representation, and digital logic. An understanding of modeling tools—like PowerDesigner, Erwin, and Enterprise Architect—can also prepare you to learn data modeling. Experience with database management systems is also a must. Software development experience can be helpful too.
While technical skills are important for work that involves data modeling, you must also be a good communicator and teacher. In many cases, you'll have to explain your job to those who may not fully understand it. This means you'll need good written and verbal communication skills. It also means you'll need good interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with a team. You should also have a business-minded personality. The ideas and standards you implement will be based on the needs of the business where you work. You must be someone who can learn, change, and adapt quickly as you'll find that the job calls for that on many occasions.
Anyone with a background and passion for math, data, and computers may find that learning data modeling is right for them, especially if you dream of working in the business world and helping companies reach their full potential. Your technical knowhow and communication skills must be equally as sharp if you want a career in the field. However, choosing a career in this field means plenty of job opportunities, a competitive salary, and a great outlook for the future. You must be willing to build on your education and experience to work your way up from a career such as a data analyst if you choose this path.