How to Transition to a Career in Data Analytics

Data analytics is one of the fastest growing fields out there. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected to grow 30 percent through 2024, and with a median wage of $79,200, it is an attractive field to consider.

Data analytics is the process of examining large data sets to uncover patterns and correlations that can be used to make business decisions. It is similar to the work of statisticians, but focuses on much larger data sets. The field has evolved because of the need to be able to analyze the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that are collected every day.

How to Transition to a Career in Data Analytics
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Organizations that can effectively capture and analyze big data have an edge on their competitors. Because their analyses help an organization understand their clients and guide decisions, this position is in high demand.

While it originally was just a specialty in the tech industry, data analytics is now becoming a specialty that is in demand in multiple industries, government, and private sectors, including healthcare and science. Plus, its analyzing power is valuable in different areas of the business including: performance management at the organizational and granular levels and predicting future trends and behaviors of customers.

Because there is such a high demand for professionals in this field, not only are more students looking to major in it, but many others are switching careers to join the ranks.

As a data analysis interviewee, you will never be asked that common interview question, “why do you want to leave your current job?” The benefits of switching are clear. Plus, if you are currently working in a field that has a need for data analysts, you will have a leg up over new graduates. Since there is a shortage of experienced data analysts, hiring managers will look favorably on applicants who have current experience in their industry.

If you are a student looking to major in this field you have a couple of options. If you are just beginning your college career, there are bachelor programs in data analytics. You could complete your undergraduate degree and jump right into your chosen industry. If you are almost done with your undergraduate degree, it might make more sense to pursue a master’s degree.

You will likely have a higher starting salary, and will have the additional knowledge gained from your bachelor’s to help you pursue data analytics in a specific field such as healthcare or marketing.

If you are looking to make the jump to data analytics from your current career, your next steps will vary depending upon your current skill set and in which industry you would like to work. To stay in an industry where you already have experience, it might be a simple matter of learning some specific tools.

However, if you are planning on switching industries and have had little exposure to handling data, you will need to obtain additional schooling.

Important strategies include:

1. Learning analytics tools

If you already have a degree in computer science, math, or statistics, it might be a simple matter of learning the analytics tools used in the field. The common ones currently in use include R, SAS, SQL, and SPR. These are the bread and butter of data analysis.

No matter how well you understand the theory and math behind analytics, you can do very little without the knowledge of how to use the tools that evaluate the data. Not every organization will use all of these. If you are looking to transition in your company, find out which one it uses and learn it. Otherwise, learn as much as you can about each one.

2. Keeping current

Because it is a new field, data analytics is changing and growing rapidly. If you do not stay current, it would be easy to fall behind in developments. Subscribe to any industry journals that are available and read blogs or articles from thought leaders in the industry.

Stay abreast of developments, comment on interesting threads and become immersed in the field. Even after transitioning into your new career, these tips will help ensure your success in your new field. It might also help you with the next point. 

3. Networking and Connecting

In the same vein as number two, by networking with other professionals in the field, you can exchange ideas and advice. If you can find a mentor, even better. Sometimes, knowing theory and the tools is not enough. Insider tricks help you be more effective in your job, certainly faster, and maybe even more insightful. 

4. Going back to school

It can be hard to go back to school once you are established in your career. However, because data analytics is such a technical field, if you don’t have the necessary background in math or statistics, it might be needed.

There are several online programs for a Master of Science in Analytics. Online programs allow you the flexibility to study on your schedule and at your pace, making it possible for motivated individuals to earn a degree while working full time.

If you love ferreting out information to help you make better decisions, you will love the field of data analytics. Whether you want to help hospitals discover trends in illnesses and ways to make internal processes more efficient or help your business find ways to reach more customers by analyzing online reviews and social media posts, you can use data analytics in your current industry.

Author: Valerie Jocums

Valerie Jocums loves the sun, her Australian Shepherd dog, and her husband. When she isn’t mountain biking, practicing her public speaking skills, or reading, she is writing about everything she has learned.
Follow her on twitter: @vkjocums

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