A 2018 survey from labor-market data firm Burning Glass revealed more than 150,000 nationwide listings included data analysis in the job title; more than 27,000 of those jobs were located in California.
This should come as no surprise with "data" and "big data" becoming firmly entrenched career buzzwords. Why? Companies are looking at how to best leverage the vast amounts of data at their disposal and—perhaps more importantly—how to correctly analyze those data sets to make informed business decisions.
But it’s still a bit breathtaking to see where you can go in your career, almost any career, by mastering data.
The survey lists top careers that you can target after beefing up your analytical skills:
- Business analyst
- Software developer
- Web developer
- Management analyst
- Computer systems analyst
- Operations research analyst
- Database administrator
- Computer information research scientist
- Marketing manager
#1 Contender: Business Analyst
"Business analyst" tops the list of roles that have data-analysis skills that employers are looking for. You can view business analysis as being on a spectrum of data skills, with data scientist occupying the more technical, scientific end that includes data analysis.
If you already have a degree or experience in business management, you can supplement those skills with a focus on mastering data to move into this growing segment. You act as a key facilitator between the C-suite and the IT department, and find efficient solutions to business challenges. Check out our Business Analysis certificate to get started.
Data in a Technical World
Many of the other top professions that require data-analysis skills are in the technical and computing fields, including software and web development, database administration and information research.
Pairing technical and analytical skills is a clear match as they often draw from the same talent pool. In both fields, you need to have numeracy skills such as mathematical interpretation and calculation. And while you don’t have to be a full-on programmer to succeed as a data analyst, you should be comfortable working with computers and have familiarity with some coding processes. It’s part of the ubiquity of Big Data, however, that so many computing jobs also want some education and experience in analyzing numbers to see how they affect operations.
So, even if you’re already in the computing field, adding data-analysis skills to your tool kit can help keep you competitive.
A Few Surprises
Data has worked its way into more career paths than just the well-trodden technical ones. A 2016 report by the Society for Human Resource Management highlights the different fields in which data analysis skills are prized.
Nursing. Big data in health care is a big deal. There's even a new job title for nurses who have data analytics skills: nurse informaticists. A 2017 study by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) found that more than half of nurse informaticists earned salaries in excess of $100,000. One key factor in the rise of data analysis in this area is that nurses now have access to more data. Some of that information comes from medical Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices that electronically monitor everything from glucose levels to blood pressure. Nurses now have an ongoing record of all the readings that they incorporate as part of their jobs. Such data can then be used to create better strategies for care and health outcomes for their patients.
(Of course, nurses have always been on the cutting edge of technology. Here’s a fascinating infographic developed by Florence Nightingale—yes, that Florence Nightingale!—in 1858.)
Sociology. A degree in sociology is often great preparation for expanding into data analysis. The research and statistical skills that many sociologists already use are directly applicable to data analysis. Studying data analytics just formalizes those skills. Sociologist and ethnographers have always used direct observation and surveys to bolster theories. Data analytical skills allow these social scientists to use data sets to expand the scope of their information gathering.
And while sociology jobs remain steady, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that "Sociology is a popular field of study with a relatively small number of positions," so it never hurts to add extra skills to your résumé.
Journalist. Of course, journalists were mining data back when that meant shuffling through stacks of papers at the local police precinct or government office. No surprise there's now even an official name for the practice of working with data sets: data journalist. Part of working with large sets of data is presenting that information in a way that’s comprehensible to the reader, and that’s where graphical representation comes in. Telling stories with pictures and graphics has become crucial for contemporary journalists. (And, it’s part of most data-analyst skill sets, as well.)
If you're a journalist who is interested in adding to your analytical skill set, you may want to hang out in the Data Journalism Den, an international resource for data journalists that can expose you to best practices in the field and network.
So if you want to remain competitive in your field, whether it's STEM or another field, the first step is to gain more skills in data analysis. See if your career can get a boost from the Professional Program in Data Analysis.