An article by contributor Sreeram Sreenivasan.
From messaging apps to autonomous cars, today, every piece of technology is powered by data. The advent of new fields like Artificial Intelligence has thrown open a wide range of data-specific jobs that provide amazing career options.
Here are 5 exciting careers that allow you to create a huge impact in an organization by applying data analytics & business intelligence:
1 Data Scientist
Data Scientists take a business problem, translate it into a data question, create mathematical models that help answer the question, and translate the results into business insights. For example, if they were working for a bank, they would help develop a credit card fraud detection system for them.
Salary: They are one of the most sought-after employees, especially in hi-tech regions like Silicon Valley, attracting an average salary of $121,000 USD.
Skills needed: Data scientists need to be good with algorithms, mathematics & statistics, with a working knowledge of at least one programming language such as C, R, Python. They also need to be familiar with data processing languages such as SQL and have good communication skills to structure data questions from business problems, and communicate results effectively.
2 Data Engineer
Data engineers use concepts of computer science and software engineering to build highly scalable data processing systems for their organization. For example, they would build the messaging system for Whatsapp that can handle billions of messages per second.
Salary: They get an average salary starting from $95,000 USD.
Skills Needed : Data engineers need to be good with programming languages such as Python, Java, Ruby that they can use to develop web applications as well as mobile apps. They also need to be adept with any of the database languages such as SQL, Matlab or SAS.
3 Data Analyst
Data Analysts are the chief investigators of a data science team. It’s their job to analyze data and figure out why things are happening the way they are. They translate numbers into plain english and help business leaders make better decisions. For example, if an organization aims to launch a new product, then it’s the data analyst who looks at the market data and comes up with launch recommendations that the senior management can use to create a marketing strategy.
Salary: Data Analysts are valuable to every organization, from Facebook to Google, and attract an average salary of $73,000.
Skills Needed : Data analysts need to know data processing languages such as SAS, SQL & Matlab as well as programming languages like Python & R, to be able to process all that data and present it in a lucid manner. Their main job is to extract required data from existing systems, analyze it to find answers, and present those insights to their team.
4 Data Architect
Data Architects are responsible for designing data management systems that make it easy for everyone the in the organization to work with data – whether it’s a data scientist who needs historical data for building models, or a sales rep who needs to look at a simple sales report for his region. They design systems that allow organizations to easily collect, cleanse, centralize and analyze data.
Salary :They are as important as the CTO of your organization, and get an average salary of $115,000 USD.
Skills Needed : Data architects need to have experience of designing data models, based on their understanding of businesses processes. They also need to be knowledgeable about the best storage technologies available and the latest innovations that happen in the data industry.
5 Business Analyst
Business Analysts act as a liaison between the data teams and business guys. They link data insights to business actions and use storytelling to spread the message across the organization. For example, when a VP inquires about the impact of the latest marketing campaign, it’s the business analyst who works with the data analyst to find out the top performing states, applies his understanding of marketing processes to find out why they performed so well, and presents his findings to the senior management.
Salary : Business Analysts get an average salary of $67,000.
Skills Needed : Although Business analysts are less technical, they need to have a thorough understanding of the business processes of their organization. They also need be good with Microsoft Office Tools – such as Excel for number crunching, Powerpoint to make insightful presentations and Word for drafting business proposals and recommendations. They also need to be familiar with business intelligence and data visualization tools to be able to spot trends and outliers, build interactive charts & reports for senior management.
How to Get Started
Since most of these careers are nascent, they don’t have a hard and fast requirement about academic qualifications. Being a major in mathematics, statistics or computer science is an advantage, but not essential. What counts is relevant skills and experience. Here are some ways you can build the required skills to pursue the above careers.
1 Apply for internships
One of the easiest ways to develop data analysis skills to is to apply for internships at online businesses. It can be a small ecommerce store or a Fortune 500 company. Online businesses accumulate a lot of information and always need people to look at all the data and come up with business insights to help them grow faster. Internships help you get a foot in the door and provide the opportunity to work with the tools & techniques required to enter this field.
2 Work at a startup
Similarly, there are plenty of fledgling startups who need full-time employees to understand user behavior or product usage by analyzing their website or app data. They can’t afford to set up a full-fledged data science team so they’ll be happy to hire and train college students and graduates.
3 Take up online courses
You can also enrol for data science certification programs and courses by online universities like Coursera, Udacity and Udemy, that will add value to your resume. Also, don’t miss the numerous free video tutorials on YouTube, that you can always use to develop your skills.
4 Participate in Kaggle competitions
Kaggle is an awesome platform that hosts tons of data science competitions, provides high quality public datasets that you can use in your own project, and has a great online community of industry experts who can give valuable feedback and advice.
5 Work on your own data project
Build a small website, online store or a mobile app for yourself. There are many website builders and app builders that allow you to build a website or app in less than an hour, without any coding. Populate your website/app with mock data sourced from the internet. This will give you a first-hand experience of the data problems faced by various organizations and help you come up with data models to solve them. It will not only be a great addition to your resume but also help you answer many interview questions with ease.
If you like playing with data and can demonstrate experience with solving data problems, you can easily land a great analytics job in one of the top companies of the world.
For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Intelligence, Sales & Marketing Strategy. He regularly writes at Fedingo about a wide range of business growth & marketing topics. He’s also the Founder & CEO of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.