Why Earn a Data Analyst Degree + Big Data

The field of data analysis involves the collection, processing and statistical analysis of large amounts of data. This is a world that goes well beyond just making good business decisions. Today, information and databases have an influence on our lives in every way.

For example, architecture, pharmacology and engineering all largely depend upon the proper use of data to make important decisions that affect millions of people daily.

As businesses are getting more intelligent at  being able to predict opportunities in the future and potential risks through data analysis, there will be an increased need for data analysts. The greatly increased global competition in most business sectors today also means that companies must be able to analyze data accurately to stay competitive and maximize profits.

A data analyst degree – which can be earned at both the bachelor’s and master’s level – combines many facets of IT, business and mathematics with the mining of data and data optimization. With a broad amount of knowledge, a data analyst will learn how to dissect large quantities of data and also put them in the context of the modern world.

Career Paths in Data Analysis

Getting your degree as a data analyst is a wise move because data is so important in technology and business today. Common career paths include the following:

Operations Research Analyst

These operations experts utilize advanced analytical and mathematical tools to help public and private organizations to solve problems and to make better business decisions. Their common duties include some or all of the following:

  • Determine what real world problems exist in logistics, business, health care and other fields by analyzing data
  • Collect and organize data from many sources such as databases, histories of sales and feedback from customers
  • Collect input from employees that are involved in various parts of a problem, and also from others who have detailed knowledge
  • Examine data and information to determine what is most relevant to solving the problem
  • Use simulations, statistical analysis, predictive modeling and other techniques to perform data analysis

Operations research analysts can be involved in any aspect of a public or private company. They assist managers and leaders with deciding the most efficient ways to allocate resources and to manage the overall global supply chain.

The most important part of this job is to analyze data to really understand what the problem is that needs solving, or the processes that need to be improved.

This data analyst position will grow fast in the coming years, with 30% increase in demand expected by 2024.

Management Analyst

These are also referred to as management consultants, and they also look for ways to improve the efficiency of an organization. They provide helpful advice to managers and executives on how to make companies more profitable through reducing costs and increasing total revenues. Their duties include:

  • Collect and organize large quantities of data to determine what the problem is that needs solving.
  • Talk to employees and conduct observations on site to determine which equipment methods and personnel that are needed to improve results
  • Recommend new computer and data systems, organizational changes and procedures
  • Communicate with managers to make sure that the changes are effective
  • Analyze financial data, which may include revenue, employment reports and expenditures, to make proper recommendations

Some management analysts often work for the company that they are studying, but many will work in data analysis with a large consulting company. Some management analysts will be self employed, and may focus on performing analyses of specific types of companies, such as healthcare or manufacturing.

This field also will experience strong growth in the coming years, with 13% increase in job demand expected by 2024.

Different Types of Data Analyst Degrees

If you are interested in a data analyst career, consider earning one of these degrees:

Bachelor’s Level Degree Options

A good choice to consider for an undergraduate degree is the Bachelor of Science in Data Management and Data Analytics from Western Governors University. This program may be taken in three or four years online and will teach you how to manage the flow of data and to translate it into insights that will be useful to your company to make business decisions.

You also will learn how to manage and design complex database environments, and to organize and analyze data. Further, you will interpret technical data for many types of audiences.

This program has been designed for experienced IT professionals who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree to advance their data analyst career. This program also is a good choice for those who want to eventually get a master’s degree in data analysis or business analysis.

This bachelor’s degree has 120 competency units and also a capstone project. Many students already have some IT experience when they begin this program. You will take courses in the following subjects:

  • IT Fundamentals
  • Web Development
  • Network and Security
  • Scripting and Programming
  • Data Management
  • Spreadsheets
  • Business of IT
  • Data Science
  • Data Analytics
  • Technical Writing

Master’s Level Degree Options

If you already have your bachelor’s degree in this or a related field, a natural path is to earn your Master of Professional Studies in Data Analytics at Penn State World Campus.

This program will offer you the knowledge and skills to work in high level positions that will require you to design and maintain big data and data analytic systems. You will develop highly advanced skills so that you can work in data mining, data modeling, data architecture, and business intelligence development.

This two year, comprehensive online program will focus on big data and database design processes. You will be able to learn advanced data management technologies and skills for descriptive, prescriptive and predictive analytics that are used to improve competitive advantage in many industries.

You will take the following courses to complete your master’s degree in data analytics:

  • Foundations of Predictive Analytics
  • Data Mining
  • Applied Statistics
  • Data Driven Decision Making
  • Database Design Concepts
  • Data Collection and Cleaning
  • Data Visualization
  • Enterprise Analytics Strategies
  • Applied Data Mining
  • Statistical Analysis System Programming

Doctorate Level Degree Options

For highly experienced data analysts and professionals, you finally may earn a doctoral degree in data analysis or big data analytics. For example, you can earn a Doctor of Computer Science in Big Data Analytics from Colorado Technical University.

This degree is designed to turn you into a thought leader who will master the techniques and tools to analyze massive amounts of data quickly. You then will learn how to generate useful insights so your organization can make more rational business decisions.

You will study the following course areas:

  • Current Topics in Computer Science and Information Systems
  • Advanced Topics in Database Systems
  • Business Intelligence
  • Introduction to Big Data Analytics
  • Tools for Big Data Analytics
  • Analytics for Big Data
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Doctoral Research Writing
  • Principles of Research Methods and Designs

Accreditation

If you are going to spend years of time and thousands of dollars on your education, you should be sure that the program is of high quality. It is a good idea to verify that your degree program in data analysis or data analytics has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools or Business or AACSB.

Summary

Earning a degree in data analysis, whether it is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, will provide you with the advanced data analysis skills to enjoy a highly productive career in virtually any industry.

Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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