Companies are crying out for data analysts! No, this is not hyperbole. Whilst the demand for skilled analysts is huge, the supply leaves something to be desired. This means that even entry-level positions in data analytics are richly compensated as digital-age businesses seek to leverage consumer data to drive strategy, make investment decisions, assess risks and predict market changes.
Aside from the practical business applications, data analytics is a varied and exciting field with a long list of career opportunities and roles, you’re sure to find an industry that matches your interests.
What is data analytics?
Before we jump into why a career in data analytics is a great career choice, let’s recap the definition: Data analytics is the process of analysing raw data to create actionable insights that inform strategies and increase business intelligence.
In simpler terms, data analytics takes large sets of unorganised and apparently random data and organises (or “cleans”) it to establish patterns, drawing logical conclusions that can then be passed on to help make business decisions.
There are four types of data analysis that are used to answer business-related questions:
- Descriptive - answering “what happened?”
- Diagnostic - answering “why this happened?”
- Predictive - answering “what might happen in the future?”
- Prescriptive - answering “what should we do next?”
These four types of data analysis are used to paint a picture of the wider story that data tells us and detail the next steps.
8 reasons data analytics is the career for you
1. Data generation is at an all-time high
Statista reports that by 2025, the annual revenue from data generation is set to reach $68 billion with 181 zettabytes of data being created.
Customer data has become the world’s richest currency. From it, businesses can determine all sorts of information such as the behavioural patterns of their consumers, what messages and campaigns they respond well to, which platforms prove more fruitful, which demographics show positive responses and much more - all of this information is collected seamlessly and by scale. It’s therefore crucial for businesses to be able to make sense of this data and to do that, they require talented data analysts.
2. Data analysts are in demand
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for data analytics jobs is expected to grow 23% from 2021-2031, much more than the average 5% of any other industry. Further to this, a report conducted by Analytics Insight predicted job openings for more than 3 million data professionals last year.
The last few years, especially since the pandemic, have given way to an astronomical rise in how data is collected and interpreted for business intelligence and decision-making. As new digital technologies emerge to assist and enhance businesses, the data analyst will become more and more valuable leading to fantastic career progression and job security.
3. The salary and progression are excellent
With great demand comes great salaries! Due to the evident skill gap in qualified professionals, companies are willing to pay top rates for data analysts. The graphic above shows the average salary for an analyst in the US sitting prettily at just under $75,000 per year, you’ll also notice the entry-level figure being rather high at $53,000 per year.
As you gain experience and move through the ranks, the pay moves with it, offering some of the most competitive wages in the market (based on information from Indeed.com):
- Junior Data Analyst: $53-58K
- Data Analyst: $75K
- Data Analytics Consultant: $77K
- Senior Data Analyst: $97K
- Data Analytics Manager: $89K
- Insurance Claim Analyst: $51K
- Healthcare Analyst: $63K
- Marketing Analyst: $66K
- Financial Analyst: $72K
- Systems Analyst: $78K
- Data Scientist: $123K
- Machine Learning Engineer: $146K
- Chief Data Officer: $179K
Check out this salary guide for different countries around the globe.
4. More companies are adopting analytics technologies
New tech makes life a whole lot easier to perform complex and time-intensive tasks. For larger businesses, they can have diverse and frankly staggering amounts of data sets to sort through. The reason these same companies are looking to adopt technologies that support their strategies is this: implementing analytics tools gives them a competitive edge.
These stats from DataProt reflect this:
- The global rate for adopting business intelligence is 26%
- 52% of software companies and 50% of finance companies use BI tools
- Organisations leave 97% of gathered data unused
- The global business intelligence market was worth $24 billion in 2021
Virtually every sector uses analytics on some scale, from automotive to fashion, to retail and e-commerce, there’s no shortage of choice for which industry you’d like to work in.
5. You can get started easily
The best place to start a career in data analytics is by taking an online course. Here, you’ll learn the fundamentals around data, its uses and programming tools such as Hadoop and R. The great thing about an online courses is the flexibility they offer, so you can learn in your spare time or balance it around family and other commitments. Most are self-paced and blend practical and video-based learning and often can be completed within a few months.
Gaining knowledge around data analytics and completing a course to earn certification will dramatically increase your chances of pivoting careers. Unsure which course to take? We made a handy list of the best online data analytics courses that you can check out here.
6. You’ll become a key decision maker
Data analytics is a competitive resource for businesses as it allows for more accurate and data-informed strategies, leading to better results and clearer decisions. As a key component of this driving force, organisations and managers look to analysts for guidance on what to do next. Throughout your career, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with plenty of departments and individuals and help to deliver actionable insights.
7. Lots of opportunities for growth
Due to the sheer number of industries adopting data analytics you’ll always have options for lateral and upwards movement. Marketing, business intelligence, healthcare and finance are a few examples of data-driven sectors but there are dozens more all reliant on data.
The technical aspect of data analytics means you’ll always have a new area to explore and refine, from programming to advanced statistical analysis, there is an abundance of growth opportunities.
8. Chance to work with household names
Generally speaking, the bigger the company, the bigger the reliance is on data. In terms of who’s leading the charge for analytics software, you can expect names like Microsoft and IBM at the forefront but in terms of clients, there are some heavy hitters that prove alluring to a career in data analytics:
- General Motors
- JP Morgan Chase
- & many more
For an up-to-date list of available data analyst positions, head to GlassDoor.com.
5 in-demand data analyst skills
So now that we know some of the best reasons to pursue a career in data analytics, let’s look at the skills companies are actively seeking. The following list should help point you in the right direction as to which skills are being valued more than others today.
1. SQL - also known as Structured Query Language, is the standard way that data analysts communicate with databases and is used to clean, organise, extract and process data sets. SQL is the most requested skill among employers and is foundational to data analytics making this a sensible place to start your learning.
2. Statistical programming - open-source programmes such as Python and R allow fluent users to write computing language to clean, analyse and visualise data sets. Both are considered relatively easy to learn for beginners and offer very similar capabilities although it’s argued that Python is preferred for engineering-focused environments.
3. Machine learning - a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning creates more accurate predictions over time with the more data it processes. The self-learning algorithms have wide implications in business as they can predict trends based on historical contexts and especially in fields such as medicine for diagnosis.
4. Data management - the practice of collecting, organising and storing data in an efficient, safe and compliant manner. There are specific roles for data management such as data architects and engineers but data analysts at any level can be expected to handle data in some form.
5. Data visualisation - using visual elements like graphs, charts and maps to convey patterns and make sense of data for teams and organisations. One of the leading software for data visualisation is Tableau, which you can find more on here.
There’s a lot to like about a career in data
Varied, challenging, well-paid and with plenty of opportunity for growth and progression - there’s a lot to like about a career in data analytics. The skills mentioned above are great places to start and get a feel for the type of work you’ll be doing as an analyst.
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