Students of data analytics can take solace in the fact that their skillsets are sought after by employers large and small. However, as this demand spike has been noticed, many people have pivoted or begun to do so. Eager to take advantage of the opportunities, employers are seeing applicants with many different previous job roles and a wide range of qualifications and previous experience. This speaks to the interest level but also the need to come better qualified to the data analytical party.
The potential career paths available for people skilled in data analytics are growing. This is excellent news for those with a passion for data, those skilled in filtering it through database reports and app usage, and people wanting to try something new.
Here are five career paths that students of data analytics may pursue.
1. Data Analyst
The data analyst role focuses squarely on using data and developing relevant statistics from it for C-suite managers. The idea is that professionals in this field will act as effective pattern-matching analysts, derive insights from varied reporting, and produce strategies that can be used within the business. While the analyst doesn’t then go off to develop a new product for the marketing team to promote, they can locate and highlight interest in features that aren’t currently present in the company’s offerings, but customers are searching for them anyway.
From the initial role of a data analyst, it can see them promoted through the ranks. Some companies have junior and senior data analyst roles, along with managerial positions too. This offers a defined career path for people who love straight data analysis, don’t wish to specialize in other areas, and know they’ve found their career.
A data analyst role will typically include:
- Using different specialized software and SaaS tool to collect data
- Following best practices to provide useful analysis of the data collected
- Producing reports for managers
- Creating presentations to expand on their findings to corporate executives
- Delivering reliable results to managers, including actionable insights
At most companies, data analysts are expected to have a degree as an educational foundation. Beyond that, an analytics-related post-graduate degree is highly valued. For instance, a Masters in data analytics online from a college like Emerson would be seen as providing the depth of knowledge required at this level. Relevant work experience post-qualification is also valuable; it’s difficult to enter the field without a college-based education in analytics in some form.
2. Big Data Architect
The big data architect is a fascinating role for technical people who see themselves as problem solvers and facilitators.
While a database manager may set up relational database systems for the company, there’s often a disconnect between what’s required for basic functionality and needed by data analysts. As systems and processes become ever more complex and dispersed across multiple data centers around the globe, obtaining reliable data from multiple sources becomes a challenge for data analysts. This is where the big data architect steps in.
Think of this role as the big picture overview for analytical systems at a business. Oversight and management of database systems are required to avoid the IT team creating unworkable systems that the data analysts are still required to use.
A big data architect role will typically include:
- Being responsible for the data systems within the business
- Monitoring, validating and producing reports on functioning and issues arising
- Looking ahead to potential bottlenecks and technological roadblocks to avoid bumps in the road
- Increasing the speed that requests can be satisfied
- Finding the balance between analytical requirements, costs, and time
- Managing the integration of legacy data systems, or new ones augmented with existing ones
- Working closely with the IT team to better manage data at every level
The big data architect should be conversant with data and numbers yet they must also be a good communicator. Therefore, it won’t be ideal for an IT person who has fewer interpersonal skills. Furthermore, reporting to managers about potential issues, and explaining upcoming trouble in layperson’s terms to allow decision-makers to agree on new expenditures is also necessary.
The role is an advanced one that a data analyst could apply for with sufficient education and experience in their role. Likely, they’ll need managerial experience in data analytics first, because this demonstrates an ability to liaise and successfully report at the upper level.
3. IT Data Scientist
The IT data scientist is a practitioner who relies on a variety of different skills working together. Working with statistics, and hard data, the data scientist relies on a deep knowledge of analytical data to derive value by taking a deep dive through the data.
These professionals look to develop new ideas leading to interesting conclusions backed up by data and behavioral observations. For these people, they’re creative thinkers rather than only relying on the data. Nevertheless, they do use it to spark ideas and to back up the conclusions that they plan to present to management. While not all their predictions will ultimately prove out, the hope is that many of them have sufficient analytical backing to be valuable to employers.
The role is not one that you’ll find at an SME, yet large corporations with substantial data analytics teams will doubtless employ several IT data scientists to obtain several perspectives on particular problems. When one person floats an interesting new hypothesis, the others on the team can discuss it, look to refute it, and eventually provide either greater credence or “shade” to the concepts being presented.
An IT data scientist role will typically include:
- Improving the ways that the business collects, stores, and manages data
- Producing new algorithms to find previously unknown patterns in existing data
- Using applications to dig into data stores to find anomalies or potential errors in the data
- Cleaning up data that’s filled with mistakes, errors, and more
- Providing reports to managers that cover the latest findings, patterns, and observations
- Producing presentations to upper managers using simpler terminology to help them make sense of the findings and make sound business decisions
The role of an IT data scientist is another advanced one. It is likely to be someone with years of work under their belt in data analytics. They should also be well versed with statistics, programming in various languages, and creating useful algorithms that go beyond what existing analytical software can do.
These scientists should expect to locate and produce findings that bolster their employer’s prospects. Therefore, someone in this role needs to be ardent in their pursuit of unique, valuable insights not offered by others.
4. Computer and Info Systems Manager
For major corporations with complicated IT requirements, a role exists for someone who can coordinate what’s required in the computer and informational systems. The idea is to ensure that the required technological resources are available to meet the needs of the organization today and well into the future.
The computer and informational systems manager is relied upon to manage the requirements for all employees from a technological perspective. They participate in the decision-making process relating to technology selection, acquisition, and implementation to meet the needs of everyone in the organization that working with computers.
While they do not directly work on data to analyze it, they are acutely aware that everyone who relies on access to company databases and analytical tools must not be obstructed due to technical issues that prevent them from doing their job. Therefore, insight into what’s needed by data specialists proves useful in a similar fashion to how actors make effective directors because they can relate to the actors well (and the actors in turn trust the director because they’re not fresh out of film school).
A computer and informational systems manager role will typically include:
- Reporting to the senior IT manager, IT security director, IT director & CIO to discuss technological requirements for all computer and informational systems
- Implementing solutions that meet the IT needs of the various staff across the organization
- Providing a clear understanding of all types of computer technology, infrastructure, servers, software, communications, and more
Candidates will need:
- An ability to work under pressure, respond to technological emergencies, and provide rapid interim solutions
- Foresight to see potential problems before they occur and plan for them
A Computer and Informational systems manager role is a varied one. It is also different from one organization to the next depending on its size, how well it has been organized previously, and other factors. Whom they report to and what level of responsibility is accepted also varies relative to the existing hierarchical structure.
The role is best for someone who is highly technical, can grasp technological architectural needs, and how they are implemented properly. Also, they must be able to theorize into the future to anticipate needs, foresee potential problems, and troubleshoot solutions before they’re required.
5. Management Analyst
Management analysts are commonly only sought out by larger corporations, though they could also work as a consultant later in life. The former provides an enterprise-level employer with remuneration and a bonus to match, and the chance to reduce hours in middle-age by operating a consultancy to their former employer and perhaps a handful of outside clients too.
The role involves looking at the organization as a whole and locating problems. There is an element of corporate troubleshooter in this job. Practitioners use detailed analytics to examine large companies, make sense of the data they hold, and look for where the problems are. They also actively look for issues with how the business currently operates versus what would be required to better meet the needs of the market.
A background in data analytics is vital to be able to objectively look at all relevant data and make sense of it. When in discussions with other data analytics professionals, they can then understand what’s being presented and perform their own analysis based on the initial findings of others. In so doing, they’re able to reach their own conclusions, including where long-held problems, bottlenecks, or shortcomings are holding the corporation back. And then know what to do about it.
A management analyst role will typically include:
- Understanding data from all angles
- Coming up with qualitative ideas from discussions with employees, not just data-driven
- Looking for business problems in need of solving that are holding the business back from its potential
- Troubleshooting to steer the corporation in a better, more profitable direction
The management analyst is someone who can take numerous inputs from human and analytical sources, look at this compassionately, and reach meaningful conclusions. Companies will often employ or work with this type of analyst when they feel the business isn’t achieving its potential or is stuck in a rut. Working in this role without a real appreciation of data analytics is next to impossible or, at the very least, would severely hinder the analyst when trying to do so.
What Type of Data Analyst Will You Be?
The regular data analyst role is fine for people who don’t wish to advance significantly or have little interest in some of the other roles covered in this article. There is some potential for advancement, but it will still largely revolve around oversight of the basic analytical responsibilities, rather than something else.
Some roles require managerial expertise with the ability to liaise successfully with the C-suite executives and discuss issues in clear, non-techie language. Meeting with various teams to determine what their operational needs are, to put out fires, and to manage expectations are all part of this more complex role.
For budding data analyst students, they should consider what career path they intend to have or feel they are well suited to. While this may not change the decision regarding their educational choices, it should materially alter the jobs they apply for once qualified. In some situations, there are supporting roles that lead to the job they’ll eventually seek out. This can be a better fit than starting as one of many data analysts employed at the company and going unnoticed.
Also, when you feel that you have strong interpersonal skills and can relate to people rather than purely being analytical in approach, a mixed role is worth considering. These value analytical knowledge but that’s just one part of their responsibilities, such as that of a management analyst. Choosing your career early on helps to steer it in the right direction from the beginning.