Career Prospects in Data Analytics: Which are the Best Opportunities in Business?

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Analysts have a wide range of job titles to choose from and this post will be dedicated to pointing out the best career opportunities for them within the corporate structure. On that note, let’s quickly look over what the field of analytics entails in general and specifically for businesses.

Who is the Analyst?

Before we get started on who the analyst is, it has to be mentioned that you don’t always need a background in statistics and mathematics to becomes an analyst. As it is possible to join a data analytics degree course even if you do not necessarily have an academic or professional background in the subject prior to graduation, let’s quickly get introduced to who the analyst is first, before diversifying the job role into several possible career prospects that your newly acquired skills will prepare you for.

The analyst is a professional who collects, organizes, and analyzes data to create conclusive reports based on their research findings. Those reports are then used by decision makers to choose a course of action in relation to the subject in question. That is the simple definition of what an analyst does and the job role in general.

In practice, however, the analyst’s job is significantly more complicated and varies in accordance with the kind of analyst they are, as well as the project/process/dataset that they are working on. Keeping that fact in mind, let us now elaborate more on the different and important shoes that analysts fill across multiple sectors within the industry.

Business Systems Analyst

A business system analyst must be capable of analyzing all available data about the concerned business system and create prescriptive reports based on their findings. These reports will then help the system function at maximum viable efficiency levels, provided that the prescribed changes to its structure are also implemented properly.

Depending on their seniority level, educational qualifications, and the authority status of the system analyst’s position, they could also be held responsible for implementing the necessary restructuring strategies themselves. If you are willing to pursue a career as a business systems analyst, the following should provide you with a general overview of how you will need to work in that capacity:

  • They will be collecting data about the present system from employees across all levels of the company
  • The scope of the above data is too big and variable to mention, but it is used by the system analyst to identify pros and cons of the current system
  • Through analysis of the collected data, the analyst will create predictive models for identifying future needs of the business
  • The business systems analyst will create prescriptive models for suggesting strategic tactics which will be expected to deliver better output efficiency
  • The analytics professional is also responsible for including suggestive reports on how to best allocate/reallocate available resources for minimizing waste
  • Expert communication skills will be expected if they are to be tasked with implementing their own strategies for improving productivity and profitability
  • An analyst’s ability to communicate efficiently is important because they will frequently need to explain steps multiple times to multiple department heads and workers

That about sums up what the business systems analyst does in brief. However, remember that there are three ways in which this works. You might be:

  1. Hired as a systems analyst by an analytics firm
  2. Freelancing as a consultant professional
  3. Hired by a company to work in their analytics department

The pay range varies depending on how they are employed exactly, in addition to their job experience, educational qualifications, the analytics degree specialization, their employer/clientele, and their location. On an average though, business system analysts get paid roughly $70,170 plus bonuses ($1,000 to $10,000 annually).

Computer Systems Analyst/Business IT Analyst

If you went through the above section about what the business systems analyst does, you already have a pretty good idea about what the goal of this job is too. At its core, CS analysts aim for the same final objective as the business system analyst, but there is one main difference, which in turn changes the entire job role. While the computer system analyst also collects data and analyzes it to create models for improving, if not maximizing system performance, they primarily deal with IT systems being used directly/indirectly by the company.

It would be adequate to state that CS analysts are the technical equivalents of business systems analysts. However, this is a much more technical job which requires advanced knowledge regarding not just statistics and analytics, but also the latest business software and hardware, as would be relevant for the concerned company. Although they are often paid higher than business system analysts, the average pay does not reflect that difference by much ($71,300 per year plus $1,000 – $10,000 as bonus). If you complete your analytics degree with a computer science background, you will be preferred by employers. That is not a prerequisite of course, as long as you are technically capable of carrying out the following tasks:

  • Collecting data from internal and external computer networks and software systems for analysis
  • Organizing the data into sets and categorizing them under indicators such as performance, expenses, cost-to-performance, cybersecurity, internal network security, etc.
  • Create diagnostic models to analyze and measure the KPIs and generate reports that identify and highlight problem areas
  • Create reports based on predictive and prescriptive models to predict ramifications of the identified problems, as well as possible solutions
  • Create functional and graphical (visualization) models to identify and explain the requirements of an IT project

It should be noted that an IT analyst is not part of the IT tech support personnel, so they should not have to repair computers and patch vulnerable codes as part of their job description. In case you are expected to install, configure, maintain, manage, patch, repair, and fix everything related to IT, you are not working as a computer system analyst anymore! Unfortunately, small company owners often fail to recognize the difference between the two jobs, which leads them to include such requirements as part of the job description. While you may or may not be capable of managing everything IT, the extra pressure might not be worth it without a significant pay bump.

Intelligence Analyst: Public and Private

An intelligence analyst can work in both private and public sectors. Note that going into the public sector means that you might be working with confidential information on a regular basis and your employer will likely be a 3-letter government agency (CIA, FBI, INR, NSA, etc.). If you are good enough at seeing patterns, forming relationships, and creating predictive models, your skills could land you a job at one of the several United States Intelligence Departments.

Even as a business intelligence analyst, it is possible that you will be hired by a private company which works in close proximity with one or more of those same government agencies. Aside from the obvious thrill of working indirectly for a US spy agency, intelligence analysts are also among the highest paid analysts in the industry. On an average, you can expect to get paid around $72,000 + bonus ($1,000 – $10,000) per year as a business intelligence analyst. The pay is expected to be the same in government sectors as well, although that is not always disclosed. Next, we will quickly go through the tasks expected from a business intelligence analyst, although they may change depending on the particular project in question:

  • Collection, extraction, examination, organization and categorization of huge intelligence datasets
  • Ensuring that every step of the process is kept confidential with only limited access given to authorized associates within the company
  • Diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive modeling for ascertaining and providing readable, relevant intelligence reports

As long as you are working within the private sector, business intelligence data reports are generally used to find crucial information related to rival companies, products created by rival companies, possible moves they may soon make in the market, and more. The predictive intelligence report may also contain information or warnings about upcoming changes in government policies, customer attitude, and other severe factors which are likely to impact business.

If you are looking to build a career as an analyst, these should be at the top of your list of potential job roles as they are not only among the highest paid in the field, but they also hold the maximum career growth potential. For experienced analysts who have been in the field for a long time and completed their advanced analytics degree a long time ago, crash courses in digital analytics and newer programming languages might be necessary.

The field has changed drastically over the years and unlike before, an understanding of the technical aspects is no longer optional to remain valuable to employers. You may have mastery over SQL, but Python and R can’t be ignored without sacrificing your own productive efficiency. They are among the simplest programming languages in existence today, so it is not as difficult or impossible as it may sound to someone without a proper background in computer science.

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