Companies across the globe are collecting, storing, and analyzing massive amounts of personal information and data like never before. From your online shopping record and Internet browsing history to the type of car you drive and your physical GPS location, you’re probably sharing more information than you think with advertisers and businesses.
Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can even remember what you had for lunch! If you share it, they’ll store it.
The reason for all this data collection is simple. Your data is extremely valuable to companies. It allows them to create laser-targeted advertising campaigns, make informed business decisions, and understand their customers better.
It’s the responsibility of data analysts to use this information to draw useful conclusions and help drive business decisions. The recent tech boom has made data specialists highly sought-after. If you’re interested in a data analytics career you can expect a lucrative compensation package, job security, and excellent job prospects.
This in-demand skill offers employment in a range of different fields including technology, marketing, business intelligence, data assurance, data quality, and finance.
If you have a passion for big data and an analytical mindset, a job in data analytics is ideal. Find out if data analytics degrees are worth it and why a bootcamp could be a better way to land your ideal job in big data.
Skills You Should Learn with a Data Analytics Degree
A data analytics degree requires a significant investment of both time and money. It’s therefore essential you make sure the degree curriculum is actually relevant.
One way to do this is by learning as much as possible about the data analytics role before applying. What will your day-to-day work be like? What skills will you need? Which tools and technologies are used? Answering these questions will help you make an informed decision when choosing a data analytics degree.
Here are some of the skills any data analytics degree should focus on:
- Dealing with Numbers: Statistics and mathematics are two vital components of data analytics. They should make up the majority of your degree program. Look for a curriculum that includes topics on variance, covariance, correlation, probability, and expectation.
- Communication: Data analytics is about transforming numbers into a story. You need to be comfortable communicating, reporting, and presenting this story to stakeholders within the company.
- Coding: A career in data analytics requires basic coding knowledge. The most commonly used programming languages are Python and R. SQL is also important for building databases and handling data. You should be familiar with Hadoop, MS Excel, Tableau, and other data analysis tools.
- Data Cleaning: This might not be a part of your job description but most data analyst roles require you to clean data. You may have to find errors and transcription issues. You’ll be responsible for transforming data from one format to another.
- Working with People: Data analysts don’t work alone. For a career in this field, you’ll need to coordinate with other team members with data-centric roles.
Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree will take 4 years to complete and cost around $40,000. Data analytics is a broad subject and there’s no specific bachelor’s degree required to become a data analyst.
Usually, a degree in computer science, statistics or mathematics is preferable. These degrees teach you statistical tools, knowledge of probability, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and familiarity with languages like Python, R, and SQL.
Students from other backgrounds like physics, astrophysics, and even social science can also consider a career in data analytics. However, these are less relevant programs and may require additional, more focused studies to learn the necessary skills.
Data Analytics Master’s Degree
Master’s degrees can take 2 years to complete and are great if you want to continue your education after a bachelor’s degree. They give you the chance to specialize in a particular field. You’ll learn from experts that have the highest academic and professional qualifications.
The focus will be on data operations in this program. You can apply for an MS in data analytics and gain hands-on experience with various tools and techniques that are used by data analysts. By the end of your program, you’ll be able to transform raw or unorganized data into a more meaningful structure.
You can study the following specializations with a data analytics master’s degree:
- Data variation and validation
- Machine learning
- Predictive modeling
- Real-life applications of data analytics
- Data extraction and polishing techniques
- Linear and quadratic analysis
Keep in mind that along with theoretical knowledge, you’ll need some practical experience too. Pay attention to the curriculum and look for programs that teach the most current skills, using tools that are currently used by the industry. Choose a degree that strikes the perfect balance between theoretical and practical learning.
Pursuing a master’s degree may be unsuitable for some candidates. If you’re a busy professional with work commitments, studying for a master’s can be overwhelming. You can inquire about part-time programs to spread the workload out. However, this does mean it’ll take longer to graduate.
A master’s degree is beneficial for those who want a career in business intelligence, data mining, or statistics. MIT, University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago, and Columbia University are some of the best options for pursuing a master’s degree in this field.
Data Analytics Certification Courses
Certification in data analytics gives you the opportunity to validate your knowledge and skills in the space. The courses are much shorter than degrees and a lot less expensive. They can help you demonstrate your passion for data, and can encourage prospective employers to hire you.
There are generally no entry requirements for certification programs. Below are some of the most sought-after data analytics certificate courses available:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)
- Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences
- Certified Analytics Professional
- Open Certified Data Scientist
- SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9
- BM Data Science Professional Certificate
- Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
Data analytics certifications can help your resume stand out and send a clear message to recruiters. They show you’re keeping up to date with the latest data analytics tools and techniques, that you’re motivated, and that you have a genuine interest in data analytics.
With certification courses, the focus is on validating existing knowledge rather than learning new skills from scratch. They are usually issued by big software manufacturers or like Microsoft, Google, and Adobe for a particular tool or data technology. Certifications are therefore more suited to existing professionals that want to emphasize their skills.
Data Analytics Bootcamps
Data analytics bootcamps are specialized training programs for people who want to start a career in data analysis. They’re put together by experienced data professionals who understand exactly what’s required for a job in the field.
They’re more affordable, more focused, and faster than degree programs. This makes data analytics bootcamps perfect for students with no prior experience, looking to get hired in a relatively short space of time.
Here’s some bootcamps with great track records:
- General Assembly
- Lighthouse labs
- Nashville Software School
- Code Fellows
- Data Science Dojo
A data analytics bootcamp can equip you with the skills and knowledge to compete in today’s cut-throat job market. Some programs provide additional assistance in resume building, job search training, and career coaching.
Before selecting a bootcamp, look at the curriculum. It should include essential tools like Hadoop, Spark, and Tableau. There are full-time and part-time options to choose from. You can choose a bootcamp based on your schedule, personal requirements, and convenience.
Are Data Analytics Degrees Worth It?
The short answer to this: a degree will certainly help you learn data analytics, but it’s not necessarily required to land a great job. If you’re happy to commit 4 years of your life, invest a significant amount of money into your education, and leave your options open to a range of different career paths, then a degree could be for you.
If however, you’re focused on becoming a data analyst, don’t want to learn unnecessary skills, and want a faster-paced, more affordable learning program, enroll in a data analytics bootcamp instead. You’ll learn specific skills needed to kickstart your career, including:
- Knowledge of programming tools and techniques.
- Machine learning.
- Structured Query Language (SQL).
- Data analysis tools like Tableau, RapidMiner, Excel, and KNIME.
- Knowledge of statistical methods.
- Presentation, communication, organization, and team working skills.
The bootcamp program also gives you the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of work. You can share this with prospective employers to demonstrate your ability and boost your chances of success.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the different learning paths available to you. Data analytics is a highly rewarding and satisfying job and we wish you every success for your future career. If you’d like to discuss your options in more detail, schedule a call with us. We’ll be happy to help.
For further reading, take a look at our data analytics blog. We cover a range of different data analytics topics you might find useful.