How to start a career in analytics

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Big data has become an integral part of how organizations in a wide variety of industries improve processes and build strategies. New career paths have emerged along with these advancements in the ways businesses collect, store, interpret and apply quantitative findings. Professionals who want to take advantage of these opportunities may find themselves wondering how to get started.

Success in analytics calls for a keen understanding of how to use the latest tools and applications for gathering, manipulating and visualizing data. However, becoming a leader in this area also requires an understanding of how those numbers translate into actionable business intelligence. By earning a Master of Science in Analytics, you can learn the full breadth of concepts and skills you need to start the next phase in your professional life.

Why analytics as a career?

There are many good reasons to pursue work in data analytics, starting with the field’s versatility. Big-data solutions are being implemented in many different areas of organizations, from marketing to order fulfillment, and across many different industries. That means expertise is in great demand, as businesses come to rely increasingly on individuals who know how to gather relevant information and put it to good use.

Working with big data puts professionals in touch with some of the most pressing challenges facing today’s businesses. Analytics is playing a major role in long-term strategic planning and day-to-day productivity. That means there are endless opportunities to solve intriguing problems and make an organization function more efficiently and effectively.

While analytics has already made a big impact, there’s still plenty of room for further growth in the field and the discovery of new ways to apply these insights. As a 2018 survey by Harvard Business Review pointed out, leaders at life sciences, manufacturing, telecom and e-commerce companies are nearly all interested in optimizing the use of big data, and 73 percent say they’ve seen measurable benefits from analytics. However, there is still a lot of ground to cover in transforming organizations into data-driven cultures.

Professionals who understand analytics tools and principles are poised to move forward as these shifts occur. Companies of all kinds continue to look for more rich sources of information and strive to make wiser decisions based on the numbers. The tasks of adapting analytics methods to fit the needs of each business open up tremendous possibilities for organizational growth and individual achievement.

Employment prospects in big data

Big data experts can qualify for a wide array of rewarding jobs, and career opportunities continue to emerge. Many analytics specialists work as operations research analysts, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 27 percent increase in jobs available for this field from 2016 to 2026. These individuals draw on methods from statistics and computer science to solve business problems. They aggregate data, use statistical algorithms to detect meaningful patterns and present their findings to key stakeholders.

However, there are many other positions that make use of analytics knowledge. For example, logisticians focus on keeping an organization’s supply chain running as reliably and efficiently as possible. They draw on data to identify industry trends, allocate materials and develop strategies for minimizing the time and expense of distributing products.

Management analysts make recommendations for streamlining how a company functions. These experts are usually consultants brought in by clients on a contractual basis to solve problems. The techniques they use include examining financial information and other relevant data, drawing on what they learn to suggest updated systems and procedures.

An advertising and promotions manager is responsible for directing policies for marketing efforts and planning campaigns. Analytics is becoming a vital part of how these leaders make decisions, providing valuable perspective on how consumers behave and what messaging is most powerful. With stores of accurate data, businesses can carefully target online advertising to ensure it gets through to the demographics most likely to be interested in a product or service.

Professionals working as credit analysts assess the creditworthiness of loan applicants. To make these determinations, they must carefully consider a great deal of data, such as applicants’ financial history. Analytics skills allow credit analysts to take into account a broader set of factors, make more accurate predictions and offer sound decisions.

Getting started in Analytics

If any data-oriented job interests you, the first step is to ensure you have the proper training to succeed in a role in analytics. There are numerous advanced software tools and specialized processes that are used when applying big data to real-world problems. Professionals seeking such positions should be adept at performing structured data analysis, writing in the statistical programming language R and developing robust data models.

These experts should have a clear understanding of the systems and processes involved in managing quantitative information for an entire enterprise. Analytics professionals benefit from experience in performing tasks like data mining and running simulations. They should also have the awareness and communications ability to translate what they learn into business intelligence that can be implemented by decision-makers.

There are ways to apply analytics to almost any field, but professionals must start with a high-quality education in big-data methods. A Master of Science in Analytics from Villanova University equips graduates with a deep understanding of how to apply quantitative information to answering complicated questions that have serious implications for the growth and financial well-being of organizations. Visit the program page to learn more and find out how you can apply.

Recommended Readings:


BLS: Working with Big Data

Harvard Business Review

BLS: Research Analysts

McKinsey & Co.