Few professions offer as bright a future as data analysis. The job has become one of those rare professions in that data analysts are needed across almost every industry.
Private business, as well as nonprofit organizations and government agencies, have increasingly turned to a data-driven approach to drive operational strategy. The proliferation of data and the need for experts who know how to collect, analyze and interpret it has driven the rapid growth in the data analyst profession.
How rapid? One area, market research analysis, is expected to grow 23 percent by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s more than triple the growth rate projected for all professions in the country.
Here’s a closer look at some of the potential careers where a degree in data analysis can lead.
Market Research Analyst
This is a rapidly expanding area for data research and analysis. With more consumers moving online to make buying choices, savvy marketers now focus much of their efforts to reaching people on the Internet. That requires having people onboard who can use data to make recommendations on potential business strategies.
Analysts who work in marketing focus on finding out what products people want, how much they will pay for them and what specific demographic groups are best to target with specific marketing campaigns.
Median pay in the field was $62,560 in May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning $121,730, according to the BLS.
Financial Data Analysts
Data has always driven the financial industry, but never more so than today. Those who work in finance use data to assess a company’s health and make predictions on future business success or failure. The stock market relies heavily on data. Data is consulted to determine when to invest in certain securities, and more importantly, when to sell.
While an analyst working in this area would also require education in finance, it can prove a lucrative choice. The median annual pay in May 2016 was $81,760, according to the BLS, with the top 10 percent earning $165,100. The BLS projects 11 percent growth in the field.
Operations Research Analyst
People in this position focus their efforts on using in-depth data analysis is to solve complex challenges. It requires expertise in mathematics and statistics, as well as working with data.
The primary goal is finding ways to make an operation more efficient while also producing quality products and services. Areas could include supply chain management, proper price setting and the best strategies for allocating resources.
The BLS projects a staggering 27 percent increase in the number of operations research analysts by 2026, with more than 145,000 people working in the profession. Median salary in the profession reached $79,200 in May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning $132,660.
Finally, management analysts or consultants have been around for decades. Typically hired from outside a company, they make recommendations on making an organization more efficient. They can utilize a host of efficiency methodologies to do so (Six Sigma, Lean and Agile, for example). But it’s also an increasingly data-driven field.
Data analysts who work in management consultant agencies do much of the same work as an operations research analyst. They look for trends in the data that show where efficiencies can be found. They may also provide predicted outcomes based on following recommendation business strategies.
Median pay in the field was $81,330 in May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning $149,720. The BLS projects 12 percent growth in the field by 2026.
Another growing field is risk analyst, which involves quantifying the risk in financial investments and other areas of operating a business. Risk analysts offer recommendations on developing strategies to limit potential losses. A certain level of unpredictability exists in all financial endeavors but advances in predictive analytics allow for more accuracy in making risk determinations.
A risk analyst can work for any organization but are most associated with banks and investment firms. However, they could also work for manufacturers in determining risk factors on the factory floor or even as an analyst for a baseball team assessing player and game data.
The BLS includes risk analysts with all financial analysts. Median pay in the field was $81,760 in May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning $165,100. The BLS projects 11 percent growth in the field by 2026.
Those are just a few careers where a degree in data analysis can take you. Many industries are looking for people with data analytics skills, including healthcare, finance, oil and gas, and federal, state and local governments.
For those with an interest in using data to help organizations make better decisions, it’s an exciting time for data analysts entering the field.