Data Analytics Career Guide [Skills, Jobs & Outlook]

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Data is everywhere, and we are generating more than ever before — 2.5 quintillion bytes daily, by some estimates. And while that number is impossible to wrap your head around, it’s clear just how critical data is to our daily lives, making careers in this field some of the most exciting and in demand.

Data analytics may sound complicated, but there are a number of roles within this field suited for people with a variety of interests and skills. Curious about working in the world of data and data analytics? Explore our free career guide to discover if this might be the right career path for you.

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

Data analysts “gather, prepare, explore, and analyze specific raw data to generate valuable insights, answer important questions and solve problems for their employers.” While that sounds quite broad, think of it as constantly trying to solve a puzzle, with new clues and insights coming in from fresh data — data analysts are constantly trying to make new discoveries to identify trends and make predictions.

Obviously with the amount of data that exists, these operations are done digitally using some of the most powerful and complex computer and processing systems. In your role as a data analyst — following your education in the field — you will be able to use these specialized programs to organize, clean, and calibrate data to make it easier to work with. Ultimately, you will use the data you have processed to deliver conclusions and insights in a way that is understandable and actionable.

Why Choose a Career in Data Analytics?

Take your interest in data technology and passion for problem solving out of the equation for a moment — even though those are excellent motivations to pursue a career as a data analyst — and there are two major reasons why you should consider this field.

  1. High Earning Potential: On average, upper-middle level data analysts earn over $79,000 per year. While that is quite an attractive salary, the earning potential goes well beyond that figure. If you looked at current data analytics job openings online, you would find results from some of the top employers offering six-figure salaries.
    1. Apple – Data Analytics Manager ($114K–$119K)
    2. Siemens – Business Analyst, Data Analytics ($56K – $113K)
    3. Nike – Data Analytics Manager ($105K–$135K)
    4. Uber – Data Analyst, Global Analytics & Insights; San Francisco ($81K–$123K)
  2. Increasing Job Growth: Nearly every industry needs data analysts — health care, finance, cybersecurity, aerospace, media, transportation, higher education, government and military, energy, retail and eCommerce, professional sports, and more. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for analytics roles is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Skills Required for a Job in Data Analytics

Data analysts benefit from developing certain skills. Here are some of the top skills for data analysts to acquire for success in their field:

  1. Structured Query Language (SQL): A commonly used data processing tool.
  2. Statistical Programming Languages: This includes programming languages like Python and R that are frequently used to analyze large amounts of data.
  3. Data Visualization: Any communication tool used to articulate findings from data analysis.
  4. Machine Learning: A complimentary tool for data analysts, machine learning helps improve efficiency and accuracy when working with large datasets.
  5. Data Warehousing: Knowledge of how to store and organize data so that it is accessible and understandable is key for analysts.
  6. Project Management: Later in your career, you may be tasked with leading a team of data analysts, where you will oversee a number of analytics projects.
  7. Data Prep: Analysts and analytics programs work best with clean sets of data, so data analysts are charged with prepping data before visualization.
  8. Statistics: Statistics knowledge is used to assign meaning to large sets of data, which helps analysts better derive insights from them.

From A to V: Data Analytics & Data Visualization Career Guide

Find actionable insights in the data we create every day. Start a career in data analytics and visualization.

Top 8 Jobs in Data Analytics

  1. Data Analyst

Data analysts gather, prepare, explore, and analyze specific raw data to generate valuable insights, answer important questions and solve problems for their employers. Their primary overall goal is to identify business objectives and useful data patterns in the interest of generating information that helps their organizations to make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Average salary: $61,071
Salary range: $44,000–$86,000 

  1. Data Scientist

Data scientists use data to understand and explain the phenomena around them, and help organizations “make better decisions.” This may sound just like a data analyst, and in some ways it is, but data scientists are usually a bit more senior and carry more responsibilities.

Average salary: $96,208
Salary range: $67,000–$134,000

  1. Machine Learning Engineer

Machine learning engineers design and create artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that define machine learning (ML), according to TechTarget. ML engineers are part of the larger data science team and work alongside data analysts, data scientists and other administrators.

Average salary: $112,374
Salary range: $76,000–$154,000

  1. Business Intelligence Analyst

Sometimes referred to as a BI analyst, this role uses data to help businesses navigate decisions. They operate much like a data analyst, but are focused on informing business decisions and consulting on overall organizational goals through the lens of data analysis.

Average salary: $69,163
Salary range: $51,000–$95,000

  1. Logistics Analyst

As a logistics analyst, you will be in charge of overseeing supply chain processes and product delivery by tracking and reviewing invoices, shipment status, and delivery route activity. Essentially, people in this role oversee the entire lifecycle of a product, using data to ensure best practices are followed and deadlines are met.

Average salary: $58,455
Salary range: $44,000–$83,000

  1. Data Architect

Data architects are “IT professionals who leverage their computer science and design skills to review and analyze the data infrastructure of an organization, plan future databases, and implement solutions to store and manage data for organizations and their users.” 

Average salary: $119,249
Salary range: $77,000–$156,000

  1. Business Systems Analyst

Like traditional data analyst roles, business systems analysts gather and analyze business systems-related data to determine where improvements can be made. Using both their analytics skills and business intelligence, systems analysts help ensure optimal, data-driven decisions are made by organizations.

Average salary: $69,635
Salary range: $51,000–$98,000

  1. Marketing Analyst

A marketing analyst is a “professional that analyzes data to support a company’s marketing efforts. The marketing analyst might use the insights they find to help a company make better business decisions — like increasing revenue or optimizing marketing campaigns.”

Average salary: $56,436
Salary range: $41,000–$78,000

The Verdict – Is Data Analytics a Good Career?

The short, but emphatic answer is YES — data analytics is a great field to consider for both new professionals and career changers. Not only are data analytics professionals highly sought after, they are also well compensated and are able to work in a challenging but rewarding environment.

Resources for Aspiring Data Analysts

Working as a data analyst obviously requires some level of formal education. After all, there are numerous technologies, software programs, and coding languages that analysts must master, in addition to visualization and communication tools. What is most promising, however, is that there is no one singular route to a career in data analytics.

Consider a professional certificate in Data Analytics and Visualization. Typically offered by an accredited college or university, these programs are designed for working professionals who need a flexible learning environment that still offers the same high-quality education that will prepare them for success in the working world. At the University of San Diego Division of Professional and Continuing Education (PCE), we offer a Data Analytics and Visualization Certificate that offers a curriculum that covers the most important aspects of this field and prepares students to lead and succeed in the data analytics field. 

If you’re looking for more informal opportunities to learn about data analytics, consider these online resources:

Additional resources:

  1. Codementor
  2. Topcoder
  3. Analytics Vidhya
  4. KDnuggets
  5. R-bloggers
  6. Flowingdata
  7. Data Science Weekly
  8. FiveThirtyEight
  9. Simply Statistics
  10. International Conference on Machine Learning


What is data analytics?

Data analytics is a complex discipline, but simply put it is “the science of analyzing raw data to make conclusions about that information. Many of the techniques and processes of data analytics have been automated into mechanical processes and algorithms that work over raw data for human consumption.

What are data analytics job titles?

Working in data analytics doesn’t mean your title would just be data analyst — there are many titles within that vertical including:

  • Data Scientist
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Data Architect
  • Marketing Analyst

What are typical tasks a data analyst does?

Because there are many different roles within the field of data analytics, it’s hard to say exactly what you would do in the day-to-day. Overall, however, data analysts tackle five primary tasks no matter what their title is:

  • Identify the data you want to analyze
  • Collect the data
  • Clean the data in preparation for analysis
  • Analyze the data
  • Interpret the results of the analysis

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