Big data is big business, as every growing company in the world wants to gain useful insight from analytics and stay ahead of the competition. With such a high demand for data scraping services, it’s now possible to build a career solely as a web scraping specialist. Even with today’s advanced algorithms and automation tools, companies still need developers and data analysts to create cutting-edge data scraping solutions on the fly. If you’re considering data scraping as a career path, here are a few things you’ll need to know first:
Understand the Web Scraping Basics
For those of you who still have an elementary or incomplete understanding of this emerging data mining field, web scraping is the practice of employing automated tools to gather (“scrape”) large amounts of data from websites and API servers. For example, scraping pricing intelligence from Amazon for the sake of competitive analysis. Start your career journey by reading a few books on web scraping and you’ll be off to a good start.
Image Source: Pixabay
Learn the Right Coding Language
Anyone can buy an automation tool and some proxies and call themselves a “web scraping specialist.” The difference between a typical software user and a true scraping professional is that the latter will have a programming skill set that gives them the ability to develop adaptive solutions as platforms change. All automation solutions need to be frequently updated and adjusted to stay compatible with the ever-changing interfaces of third-party sites.
Gain an Understanding of Proxy Services
No web scraping tool is complete without the use of proxies. Proxies let you take your data collection efforts to the next level because each proxy provides a new IP address for you to use. With many IP addresses, you can have multiple accounts and request lots of data from a site or server in a short period of time, without sending up any flags that could lead to account bans or limitations. Thus, as a data scraping professional, you’ll need to gain a solid understanding of how to use proxies safely and effectively. You can learn a lot about proxies by reading review sites and leading proxy-related resources like ProxyWay.com.
Write Your First Scraper
Once you’ve researched web scraping, learned a programming language, and know how to use proxies to scale up safely, it’s time to write your first data scraping automation script or software. Making a simple scraper is something that can be done in less than a week, and you’ll learn a lot in your initial project. To really become a successful data scraping service provider, you should aim to develop a suite of scraping tools that you continually update and provide customer support for. If you can prove that your tools are effective, companies will gladly pay you to develop and manage proprietary solutions on a salary or freelance basis.
Know Your Legal Stuff
Finally, as a professional web scraper, you’ll need to become familiar with the recently introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. Study GDPR compliance to ensure that you’re not developing publicly available web scraping tools that are illegal. Likewise, it’s important to research the Terms of Service (ToS) for any site or platform that you plan to scrape data from. Any scraping tools that violate a site’s ToS should come with a disclaimer that lets the user know they’re fully responsible for how they choose to utilize the scraping tool.