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.
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.
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.
Data analysts benefit from developing certain skills. Here are some of the top skills for data analysts to acquire for success in their field:
Find actionable insights in the data we create every day. Start a career in data analytics and visualization.
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
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: $96,208Salary range: $67,000–$134,000
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: $112,374Salary range: $76,000–$154,000
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: $69,163Salary range: $51,000–$95,000
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
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: $119,249Salary range: $77,000–$156,000
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: $69,635Salary range: $51,000–$98,000
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: $56,436Salary range: $41,000–$78,000
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.
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:
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.
Working in data analytics doesn’t mean your title would just be data analyst — there are many titles within that vertical including:
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:
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