As data science skills become more valuable, a Business Intelligence Techniques Certificate program at the University of Washington saw an increase in students this year.

Business executives and mid-level managers are now recognizing the importance of making data-driven decisions, and they’re looking for employees who can bring those skills to the table. In the certificate program, working adults learn the skills that will move their companies down the path toward data-driven decision-making, said Darwin Schweitzer, an instructor with the University of Washington and senior program manager at Microsoft.

In previous years, 35 to 40 students completed the certificate program, which includes quarters on data analysis, data visualization and data mining. But this year, 60 to 75 working adults enrolled from companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Expedia, Schweitzer said.

In the last four years, data science has changed dramatically as it moved from a niche career field to be more mainstream, Schweitzer said. Predictive analytics and big data have driven many of these changes and generated more interest in the field among students. Because of the field’s evolving nature, Schweitzer modifies the curriculum every year and stays on top of what’s going on.

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