Data analysts are like detectives. And like any good detective, data analysts pull together and examine a lot of data, looking to reveal the story it has to tell. Specifically, these pros are on the hunt for information that will help their organizations make better decisions and improve the way they do business.
Common Job Titles
Data analyst, business intelligence analyst
Median Annual Salary
$60,824 in the Seattle area*
*Salary information from PayScale.
For example, as a data analyst, you might scour a manufacturer’s supply chain data to look for ways to speed up the time it takes a product to hit the shelves. You could study clinical data from an emergency room with the goal of predicting the next onslaught of the flu. Or you might analyze sales numbers to help your company better anticipate seasonal product demand.
“It’s rewarding to be able to work on interesting problems every day and to try to solve them in a way that helps the business move forward,” said Sam Affolter, an instructor in the Certificate in Data Analytics: Techniques for Decision Making and senior director of research and innovation at Safeco Insurance.
But how do data analysts do turn data into usable information? A couple common tools of the trade include software like Microsoft Power BI and Tableau. Both help you create reports, visualizations and interactive tools to analyze the data you collect and share your findings with stakeholders and decision makers. Statistical programming languages, such as R, also help data professionals perform statistical analyses and build simple programs that can yield business insights and automate reporting.
DATA Analysts in Demand
As companies do more business online, they’re generating more data, so the need for skilled professionals to help them make sense of it all is growing at a tremendous rate.
Data analytics is becoming essential to a company’s success. “The companies that do well are the ones that can find the competitive edge,” Affolter said, “and those are often companies with people who can think about data in the ways data analysts are trained to do.”
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, U.S. companies could be facing a shortage of almost 200,000 people with deep analytical skills by 2018, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the necessary capabilities to interpret data for effective decision making. This difference in supply and demand definitely adds to the already hot market for data professionals today.
Breaking Into the Field
Interested in starting or advancing a career in data analytics? Our certificates can help.