How to Start a Career in Data Analytics

By July 15, 2019Blog
How to Start a Career in Data Analytics

With a career in data analytics, you can put your talents to use in almost any field. Imagine helping medical researchers refine treatments, financial companies prevent fraud, manufacturers improve efficiency, or businesses enhance their customer experience. 

Depending on your interests, it’s all possible. 

In fact, a study by IBM predicts that the demand for data scientists will grow by an unbelievable 28% by 2020. With the right preparation, you could be fighting off the job offers by top companies.

So, what is data analytics? Is it right for you? What education do you need? We’ll answer all your questions in today’s blog.

What is data analytics?

Organizations around the world have accumulated huge amounts of data. And with so many connected devices in every area of our lives, there’s more data growing every second. In many cases, this data is stored in multiple databases and takes many forms, making it difficult to analyze.  

Data analytics is the methodology and technology for extracting and combining these scattered data sets from multiple sources to uncover insights. Data Scientists also use various advanced machine learning algorithms to identify the occurrence of a particular event in the future. In other words, making predictions. 

Data analytics is a fairly new field, borne out of our society’s technological advancements. It grew out of advanced mathematics, logic, statistics, and computer science into a valuable field of study all its own.

Would I enjoy a career in data analytics?

Before you start any career, it’s important to make sure the day-to-day work matches your natural skills and personality. Let’s look at the typical character traits of professionals who succeed in the field of data analytics.

Numbers Person 

Let’s face it – if you don’t like crunching numbers or get a thrill from statistical models, this might not be the career for you. But if you’ve always had a knack for math, you’ll probably find data analytics quite satisfying.

Curious 

As a data analyst, you’re essentially a detective. You’re being asked to uncover hidden insights from vast amounts of data. If you’re driven by curiosity, a career in data analytics will be an energizing daily challenge. 

Methodical 

Do others describe you as organized, thorough, or focused? To have reliable and accurate results, you’ll need to approach every project systematically and keep track of how you arrived at your conclusions.

Self-Motivated 

A successful data analyst doesn’t simply produce static reports. You’re already one step ahead, thinking about how your research can answer the important questions of your organization.

Does this sound like you? If so, let’s move on to the education you’ll need to start your career in data analytics.

How to Start a Career in Data Analytics

If you want a career in data analytics, be sure to focus your coursework on statistics and computer science. These are the foundations of data science.

What education do I need for a career in data analytics?

High School Coursework

To get a headstart on your data analytics career, your high school coursework should include advanced mathematics, statistics, programming, business, and communications. 

If possible, it’s also a great idea to attend a pre-college summer camp focused on coding or data science. You’ll have a chance to participate in real-life projects. Just as important – this experience will give you a better sense of whether a career in data analytics would be a good fit.

Undergraduate Studies

Since data analytics is a fairly new field, data scientists come from a variety of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) backgrounds. Regardless of which major you choose, there are two main subjects you want to master during your undergraduate studies: statistics and computer science. Employers want to know you’re skilled in computer coding languages, database management, and statistical methods.

At St. Thomas University, we offer two undergraduate programs for aspiring data analysts, the BS in Computer Science or BS in Applied Mathematics & Data Science. Both degrees are a natural first step in the field of data analytics. Our students also have the opportunity to take graduate-level courses from our MS in Big Data Analytics.

As with any undergraduate major, it’s important to discuss your career preferences with your academic advisor. He/she can help you choose the most appropriate electives, decide on a minor, or identify an internship. For example, if you have a strong desire to work in business, you might choose some classes from our Information Systems Management specialization.

Graduate Studies

To advance in the field of data analytics, graduate studies are essential. Most data scientists have a Ph.D. or master’s degree. In its data science salary report, Burtch Works noted that 44% of data scientists have a master’s degree and 46% have a Ph.D.

Before you make a decision on which program to choose, you should have a better sense of what type of data analytics position you’d like to pursue, so you can be sure you’ll be well positioned to get your dream job once you graduate. 

For example, at St. Thomas University, our Master’s in Big Data Analytics is geared toward students who wish to become data scientists and analysts in various fields such as biomedical research, social networks, marketing, new media, finance, and other information-intensive groups generating and consuming large amounts of data.

We also offer a Master’s in Business Administration with a specialization in Data Analytics. This degree prepares graduates to be data-driven leaders in their organization. In today’s world, companies need leaders who value of data analytics – and have a deep understanding of how it works and what is possible.

How can I set myself apart as a candidate?

Participate in Lab Research

Talk to your professors or academic advisor to find out about their current research projects and see if there’s an opportunity for you to help. There are many benefits to completing lab research: real-life experiences, publishing or presenting a paper, and getting a letter of recommendation. This is an excellent way to develop your skills as a data scientist and communicator.

Start a Personal Project

If you don’t have an opportunity to participate in lab research with your professors, consider developing your own data analytics project based on something that interests you. This will show initiative and give you something to share in a portfolio. You could ask a professor to be a mentor or identify someone already working in the field. Springboard offers an excellent online mentoring program for aspiring data scientists. It’s designed for students to launch their careers in the field of data analytics. 

Get an Internship

Like any major, having practical experience in the field will give your resume a major boost. And if you do a great job, you’ll have strong recommendations and a growing professional network. Seek out internships within the industry you’re considering. They’ll often use specific programs or computer languages, so you can practice the specific skills you’ll need on the job.

Finding a mentor, whether through a lab research project or internship, is essential to building a career in data analytics. Since it’s such a new field, they can help you figure out the changing job landscape.

Ready to get started? If this sounds like a career you’d enjoy, a career in data analytics offers great earning potential and abundant job opportunities. To learn more about our bachelor’s or master’s programs, contact our admissions team today!

Erin B. Ayrim

Author Erin B. Ayrim

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