A web development class at Codeup.
A web development class at Codeup. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Web development trade school Codeup has received approval from the Texas Workforce Commission to train aspiring data scientists during a new 18-week course.

Data science is a growing profession in which demand for trained workers is high but supply is scarce, said senior data scientist Maggie Giust, whom Codeup hired to lead the instruction for the course.

“Larger companies like H-E-B, Rackspace, and USAA are growing their data science
capabilities across all areas of their business,” Giust said in a statement. “We want to enable all of those companies to reach their potential and not have to relocate to do so.”

In 2012, the Harvard Business Review trumpeted data scientist as the “sexiest job of the 21st century” and postings for data scientists on job search site Indeed have risen sharply over the past several years.

The University of Texas at San Antonio recently announced it is set to build a new School of Data Science, which will house all information technology-related academic programs, at its downtown campus as soon as the 2021-22 academic year.

Jungle Disk and Quickpath Analytics are among the local employers who have shown interest in increasing the data scientist pipeline, said Dimitri Antoniou, Codeup’s director of business development.

Mike DeFelice, who leads Jungle Disk’s data science operations and is the chief technology officer for fledgling insurance startup CyberFortress, said he met with Codeup several months ago to help build the data science curriculum from an employer’s perspective.

The profession itself is still very young, and there are few standards to help employers hire for it, DeFelice said. If Codeup’s first two cohorts are successful, San Antonio will have as many as 50 new data scientists to help companies derive value from the massive amounts of data they have gathered over the years, he said.

“I think … 50 new data-science-focused coders that can go and work in a company is just going to prove that we need more of them,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing for San Antonio.”

Dimitri Antoniou
Dimitri Antoniou, Codeup’s director of business development Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

A data scientist uses a combination of computer programming, statistical analysis, and visualizations to take large data sets and make sense of them.

Antoniou said he is expecting the entry-level salary for a data scientist graduating from Codeup to be “substantially higher” than an entry-level software developer’s.

Although no technical experience is required to enroll in Codeup’s web development program – its advertising campaign touts students who have gone from working as coffee baristas to becoming software developers – a background in math, computer programming, or business is preferred for applicants looking to enter the data science program.

“I believe somebody who’s hungry enough can train up on those things to get to a point where they can start our program,” Antoniou said. “But, more commonly, we’ll probably see people transitioning from a math undergraduate degree, work as a business analyst or software developer, or someone who already has some of that expertise built into their professional background.”

The course costs $22,500. Codeup said it will refund half the tuition if a graduate does not find a job within six months.

The course is scheduled to begin Feb. 4 with 25 students learning in one of three new classrooms built as part of Codeup’s recent expansion within the Vogue Building downtown. A second cohort is set to start in July.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is a columnist at the San Antonio Report. A former reporter and editor at the SA Report, he currently works as a project manager for New York City-based Advance Local.