In this guide, we will lay out everything you need to know about how to get into the ever-evolving sphere of data analytics and data science. Whether you are in high school, a college student, or at the onset of your career, it’s always useful to learn about what is building on the horizon.
Included are degree options, boot camp basics, and certifications that can help kickstart your career or bring it to the next level. You should know what is “out there” so that your next career move is a strategic one. The world is your oyster when it comes to all things analytical.
Like any career that is newly trending and innovative, there are multi pathways from which to choose. Let’s weigh each option so that you may decide which best aligns with your career aspirations.
We will take a close look at the following:
- Degree Programs
- Work Experiences
It’s key to read onward as the science of analytics has changed drastically even over this recent past decade.
A Career in Data Analytics or Data Science
Due to the digital transformation, the call for knowledge in data analytics and data science has grown. Gartner Research’s Senior Vice-President Peter Sondergaard points out, “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.”
The beliefs of Sondergaard are shared by leaders throughout corporations. Prowess in analytics is a valued skill set. The need is great for every business spanning industries and across the globe. There stands tremendous opportunity in these fields, and related ones, with job growth very high, at 22 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage is $108,660.
The stats indicate its value in orgs around the world. Average compensation is estimated at $104,100. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 25 percent.
Career seekers with an interest in data science and/or analytics are taking a good look at how to best head off their journey. There are many ways to get started or expand your core competencies.
When referring to “degree programs,” we are looking at that which takes place at an accredited institution. In this modern age, there has never been more flexibility in terms of schedules. Not only are there in-class and online programs, but also the choice of synchronous and asynchronous classes.
Colleges and universities are catering to the needs of their students at a level like never before. There is a mass effort to accommodate a generation of students that are balancing work and/or family while at the same time attending school. As a result, students may select a full- or a part-time program. The offering of multiple learning modes aims to meet the varying needs of its student body.
Whether you seek an associate’s degree, bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD, there are an array of tracks that are specific to the study of analytics and/or data science. Listed are course names and titles of study that just twenty or so years ago were non-existent:
- Data Analytics
- Data Science
- Business Analytics
- Business Intelligence (BI)
In determining if the traditional route in education is the right one to take, the question posed is whether it’s worth it. Studies show a clear linkage between a degree and earnings potential. The higher the degree the better the compensation.
Bootcamps were born a little over ten years ago. These have grown by leaps and bounds with the evolution of technology.
Bootcamps are intensive and accelerated. These training programs are marketed to be both rigorous and fast-paced. They offer students the opportunity to add new skills to their portfolios. It is this interactive approach that drives its students to work hard. Upon completion, they can tout new skills that offer a competitive edge.
Bootcamps are also highly specialized and short in length of time. There are a large number of technical training programs offered. Some are specific to the fields of data science and analytics and are of a technical nature. They include the following:
The above represents only a sprinkling of what is currently offered in the training space. These programs take place at schools as well as centers for tech ed. Like the degree programs, boot camps are presented online and offline.
There are an abundance of bootcamps, especially in the realm of analytics, that it may be difficult to pinpoint which one is ideal for you. It’s imperative to shop around. Some boot camps offer perks like job placement services. Apparently, 74 percent to 90 percent of graduates of boot camps land a job within six months of completion.
Whether you have worked in a professional or low-level job setting, it is likely that you have been involved in analytics to some degree. You don’t have to hold the title of Data Analyst or Data Scientist to have acquired these skills on the job. It’s important to pinpoint what you have accomplished and claim them as such.
Have you ever input customer data? Looked for info about an account on the computer? Tracked the whereabouts of an order? Pulled a report on daily sales? Delivered tallies to your boss about why people didn’t make a purchase? Scanned items in a store? Used software to record outcomes?
Whether your job experiences have been customer-facing or behind-the-scenes, it is likely that you have been exposed to data in some way, shape, or form. Take note of these experiences and use them to position yourself for a more advanced one in the realm of analytics. You know more than you think you do.
Reflect upon the words of inventor Benjamin Franklin. He makes the case for the value of on-the-job training. Franklin stated, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me, and I learn.”
Getting certified is another way to delve more deeply into a data tool. With this, you can quickly acquire new skills in a specialized area. There are certificate programs designed for each and every knowledge level, i.e., from the newbies to the experts. These will help make you more attractive in your current job, gig, or marketable for new opportunities.
Choose from getting certified in Data Analytics and Data Science. Dig deeper into the subject matter of an Analytics Professional, Data Platform Generalist, and/or Business Analyst. Each and every field of analysis is open for study.
Speaking in general terms, certificates are offered for an array of vocations. They are also focused on a single skill. For this reason, programs are often short-term and continue for the duration of a year or less. Certificates are awarded to those who have mastered a special area of study.
The track for certification is unique. The focus is on practical training rather than a framework that is centered on academics. Similar to boot camps, certificates may or may not take place in a higher-ed setting that is linked to a college or university. And like most learning pathways, these are to be made accessible with just a click of a button.
Internships have always been a great way for people new in a field to gain relevant know-how. Many students and trainees will opt to work in an organization, sometimes without pay, just to get their foot in the door. It’s the chance to acquire hands-on experience. Some may be leveraged to satisfy a requirement in a program.
The job duties of an intern may vary and will often include tasks in clerical and administration. The scheduling of appointments, sorting of files, and data entry are all good ways to get to know a new area in the business sector.
These job-training programs will vary. Some can be completed in 10 to 12 weeks or for a semester, while others may last for an entire year. It’s pertinent to note that such experiences are the surefire way to get insight into what it is like to work in the data space. At the same time, your peers will be taking note of your ability to navigate your role as an intern. It is a win-win in determining if this would be a good long-term company and career fit.
The linkage between internships and hiring is positive. According to recent stats, 70 percent of interns are hired at the company in which they had previously interned. This makes the case for assuming an internship even if the position is not well paid or results in a weekly or monthly stipend.
Education in STEM has been a focal point in the United States for the past twenty years. In 2017, the Administration prioritized science and technology training with a $200+ million annual budget for school grants.
Technology training remains front and center. The Science and Technology Council has doubled its size in just the past few years. Government leaders in the U.S. recognize the importance of technical expertise at the national and global levels.
It is for this reason that scholarships and grants for the learning of analytics are so widespread. Businesses and nonprofits are on the same page in their mission to offer incentives for the purpose of STEM.
Analytics is a skill that is coveted. Some companies will offer tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits package. If you are currently employed, check in with your HR department. Educational perks are trending in businesses all over the country.
Emerging Career Paths
Let’s look ahead to the inventions in analytics and data science that are currently trending in both the US and abroad. For college graduates or individuals preparing for their futures, it is important to know where you can put your new skills to good use.
When it comes to industries, the options are endless. Are you drawn to finance or healthcare? Perhaps you find social justice most appealing. It is simply a matter of what motivates and interests you on a personal level. Consider these as well:
- Digital Marketing
- Government/Public Sector
- Mining, Oil & Gas
You need not look very far to find businesses that are hiring. Companies are in sync with the outlook of thought leaders like Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. He proclaimed, “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”
If you wish to venture towards what promises to be the most cutting edge in tech, explore the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
Key Takeaways to Getting into Analytics
Whether moving into a new field or just now launching your career, take into consideration your short- and long-term goals. Keep in mind the insight of Vik Paruchari, founder of Dataquest. He shared, “Data science is a broad and fuzzy field, which makes it hard to learn. Really hard. Without motivation, you’ll end up stopping halfway through and believing you can’t do it, when the fault isn’t with you―it’s with the teaching. Take control of your learning by tailoring it to what you want to do, not the other way around.”
Skill-building through degree, boot camp, and certification programs each train in inventive tools and concepts. Work experiences and internships teach you how to put best practices into real-world scenarios. Every form of education, be it traditional, experiential, or somewhere in between is the opportunity to build upon your expertise.
Whichever pathway you choose will grant new insight and a step in the right direction. Feel inspired by the nation’s focus on the data-centric. It can lessen the impact on your pocketbook, as scholarships and grants are out there for the taking.
Check back here often for key findings and tips. The channels to a career in analytics are expanding and getting better every day.