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Is a Career in Big Data the Right Move for You?

Big data seems to be getting bigger and bigger by the minute as more and more companies swarm to harness the benefits of big data collection and analysis. Those professionals who can combine a good head for business with strong quantitative and analytic skills stand to enjoy six-figure salaries and great job prospects, as their skills become increasingly sought after. But do you have what it takes to succeed in big data?

A Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics can prepare you for a lucrative and rewarding career. You’ll need hard technical skills and a passion for the scientific process to succeed in this career, but soft skills are essential, too. Creativity, problem-solving skills, and strong communication skills are must-haves, along with a firm grasp of business theory.

Big Data Is a Fast-Growing Industry

If you’re of a mathematic or scientific bent and looking to make a career for yourself in a rapidly growing industry, you may want to consider a career in big data. There are already many more open positions in data analysis than there are professionals to fill them.

By 2018, American companies will be facing a shortage of between 140,000 and 190,000 professionals with the analytical and quantitative skills needed to turn heaps of raw data into profitable predictions. And the shortage of big data professionals who can apply their analytical expertise to making business decisions will be even more severe — the shortfall could be as high as 1.5 million people.

Big data is an IT field, but not all IT specialists will qualify for big data jobs — far from it. Proficiency in mathematics and statistics will take you much further in big-data-related fields than coding or other computer skills.

Business skills are necessary too, since a business intelligence analyst needs a solid understanding of the business world and of the specific issues facing his or her company in order to provide that company with useful analytic work. That’s why many master’s in BI programs place a lot of emphasis on business theory and building leadership skills, in addition to analytic and quantitative skills.

Top Skills for Careers in Big Data

If you aspire to a career in business intelligence analysis, you will need to develop some hard technical skills in software platforms that can help you mine raw data, store it, analyze it, and interpret it. These platforms include, but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Statistical and quantitative analysis tools like SAS
  • Apache platforms like Hadoop and Spark
  • NoSQL and SQL databases
  • General-purpose programming languages

You can pick up much of these technical skills in a business intelligence master’s program. You’ll also need excellent data visualization skills and quantitative and statistical analysis skills.

Consider working on your ability to harness machine-learning technology for data mining purposes. Some educational background in computer science, mathematics, or statistics is useful, if not necessary. And since a master’s is the entry-level degree, you can easily pick up this background in an undergraduate degree before going on to enroll in an MS in BI program to gain a broader understanding of how to apply your analytical and quantitative reasoning skills in a business setting.

You’ll need more than just technical skills to build a successful career in business intelligence. Problem-solving skills and creativity are essential, too. A massive repertoire of technical skills and a finely tuned analytical mind, cannot replace the ability to think around corners and puzzle your way out of a tricky situation. Big data is an emerging field, and as technology and methods evolve, you’ll need to adapt your skill set. A love of learning and a passion for the scientific process will stand you in good stead throughout your career.

Business intelligence analysts and other big data professionals also need strong communication skills. Much of your job will involve explaining complex data sets and highly technical, complicated concepts to folks with little or no understanding of what you do and how you do it.

A lack of effective communication can bring your projects screeching to a halt if it means that your less-scientifically-minded colleagues fail to grasp the implications of your findings. In addition to communication skills, work on cultivating a team-oriented mindset that considers the impact of your analytical findings on the organization as a whole. Leadership and management skills won’t go amiss, especially if you aspire to one day move up into a managerial role within the field of BI analysis.

If you’re interested in a business-oriented career that allows you to use your analytical and problem-solving skills, a big data career could be right for you. A master’s program in business intelligence and analysis can impart the necessary background in leadership and analytics to help companies in all industries pull useful patterns and predictions from the piles of raw data they collect every day. And since the big data field continues to enjoy remarkable growth, a big data career is one that can reward you with great job prospects and a six-figure salary well into the future.

For more information about our business intelligence master’s degree, request information below or apply today.

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