Demand for big data professionals drives job openings

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The field of big data has grown exponentially in recent times. Across industries—from marketing to health care and technology—executives are beginning to take note of the immense value of this young practice.

The rise of big data

Big data has grown with the rise of digital platforms and technologies. As innovation continues, more data is rendered available—information that organizations can then mine and scrutinize in order to gauge workable insights and even potential answers to an array of issues. Indeed, according to a widely cited study from the McKinsey Global Institute, there is now so much data in the world that it is virtually impossible to find effective ways to store the entirety of it.

Data can help organizations in a number of ways, notably increasing revenues and improving bottom lines, thanks to the more sophisticated business strategies that are a consequence of data-based analysis. In terms of hard figures, the McKinsey study extended some compelling examples—the practice can offer a value tantamount to a staggering $300 billion dollars for the health care industry, while in the retail sector margins can be increased by over half, some by 60 percent.

Increased demand for talent

Given the immense value of big data across virtually every industry, it should come as no surprise that demand for highly skilled professionals in this field is high. What is surprising, perhaps, is the fact that the demand is heightened by a talent shortage, nationwide and across the world. The McKinsey study highlighted the disparity between the number of qualified professionals and organizational demand: Researchers projected that as soon as next year, demand for analytics professionals could be as much as 60 percent higher than the available pool of workers.

The shortage can be attributed to the rapid expansion of technology in recent years, an article in data-analytics website Datanami explained. Whereas in the past data had to be disposed of due to a lack of space, there are now cost-effective platforms that allow for the storage of previously ignored data. Consequently, organizations are now more data-rich than ever before, although they are poor in talent—there simply are not enough qualified professionals who can tackle the challenge of analyzing large amounts of complex data.

Potential career paths

Given the demand for talented professionals with analytics experience, there are myriad job openings, across an array of industries, in the field of big data. Some potential career paths that analytics professionals could follow include, but are by no means limited to:

1. Marketing analytics professional
Workers in this field use data platforms to collect information that points to the efficacy of marketing campaigns, an article by analytics organization SAS explained. The data can take various formats; for example, a marketing analytics professional may look at sales of certain products after the launch of a campaign, or they may scrutinize the amount of engagement certain marketing campaigns receive from consumers online, through platforms such as the company website and social media pages. The objective of big data in this field is to ascertain how well marketing strategies work and their ultimate return on investment. With data-driven insights, marketing analytics professionals are able to produce reports on how well a company is performing, where things need to improve and where a company can go next in terms of strategy.

Trusted careers website Glassdoor reported that within the field of marketing, analytics professionals can take home an average of close to $90,000 a year, with some salaries approaching $114,000. Given the high demand, experienced analytics professionals will no doubt have ample room to negotiate.

2. Data scientist
Data scientist is a general term for a qualified analytics professional who is able to gather and scrutinize data and then use the information to create workable insights into how a company or organization can improve strategy and operations. Laurence Bradford, writing in The Balance, explained how data scientists are highly proficient in academic disciplines such as computer programming, the sciences, statistical analysis and mathematics. Data scientists tend to be so academically orientated, in fact, that prior to the big data emergence across the business world, professionals in this role tended to work exclusively for universities and think tanks. This has since changed, and data scientists can now be found across a range of industries, from marketing to finance and health care.

As outlined by an article from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, data scientists will work daily with digital platforms to crunch numbers, review data, organize data into coherent formats, conduct analysis, and then devise reports wherein significant trends and other important insights are outlined. The article elaborated that data scientists can sometimes even work in the design stages of platforms used to effectively scrutinize data.

Bradford, writing for The Balance, noted that data scientists should have a comprehensive understanding of widely used analytics platforms, such as SAS and R; proficiency with statistical analysis and data logging; an ability to use tools such as HighCharts and AmCharts; and an understanding of calculus and algebra.

The article from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed that data scientists typically need an advanced degree—either a master’s or PhD—to access the most high-profile job opportunities. In some cases extensive experience will be accepted in lieu of an advanced degree, although a bachelor’s is typically mandatory.

Typical salaries for data scientists tend to be lucrative. Careers website Payscale reported that, on average nationwide, data scientists take home around $92,000 annually. It is fairly common, however, for professionals in the data science field to earn considerably more than that. The article explained that the top earners in this field can easily take home six figure salaries, with amounts close to $130,000 a year in many cases.

3. Visualization-tool developer
According to an article by CIO, professionals in this field are responsible for designing and constructing platforms that allow for the visualization of data. With these visualization tools, data scientists and analysts are more able to conduct rigorous analysis. The article noted that professionals in this field are currently in high demand, which is in response to the boom in the industry overall. Those looking to succeed in this emerging field will need a background in software development, as well as an understanding of big data.

As detailed in an article by careers website Payscale, professionals in the field of business-intelligence development, which is closely aligned with visualization-tool development, can expect to earn high salaries, with the median US salary close to $78,000 per annum. However, as with most careers in this burgeoning field, there is the potential to earn six figures, with salaries approaching $110,000 per year fairly routinely.

4. Predictive-analytics developer
The role of predictive-analytics developer is perhaps more specific, with professionals in this field working to employ data-based insights to make an array of predictions that could help a company and inform future business-related strategies, the CIO article explained. Predictive-analytics developers are primarily found in the industries that focus on customers and typical consumer behavior—sales, retail and particularly marketing.

The salaries for this role are again more than reasonable. Popular job search website Indeed tallied an average of salaries in this field, reporting that predictive-analytics developers typically take home around $112,000 per year.

Consider Villanova University

As outlined above, the field of big data is ripe for professionals looking for an exciting new career. But how does one begin on the road to a professional life in this booming industry? An effective place to start is with an application to Villanova University’s online Master of Science in Analytics program, as advanced degrees are virtually integral for success in the field. Designed to help students study remotely, at a schedule and pace of their choosing, the online MSA program is a perfect solution for professionals looking to switch their careers while still balancing a job and other commitments. To learn more about Villanova University’s online MSA program, visit the website.

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