In our modern world, one of the most constant and relied upon sources of information is data, and for good reason: data is everywhere. Every action we take, both on- and offline, generates a mind-blowing amount of data that governments and corporations collect and analyze to better understand and inform why and how we do what we do.
In fact, experts now predict that more than 150 zettabytes of data (the number 150 followed by 21 zeros, for context) will need analysis by 2025, creating thousands of data analytics jobs within a wide range of industries.
With so much information now available, it’s no surprise that data analysts are in high demand and, in turn, earning a salary that matches the growing needs of today’s employers. These individuals hold the key to unlocking insights and predicting trends that businesses and governments can use to become more profitable, efficient, anticipatory, and intelligent.
Read on to explore the role that data analysts play within the organizations that employ them, the salaries associated with this title, and the steps that you can take today to kickstart a career in this promising field.
What Do Data Analysts Do?
Simply put, a data analyst’s job is to interpret data and then turn that data into a story. Data analysts turn large volumes of data into insights that organizations can use to make smarter business decisions. They work across a wide range of industries—from healthcare and education to retail and the government—collecting data and looking for patterns within that data to uncover trends that can be used to make decisions and recommendations.
Learn More: What Does a Data Analyst Do?
According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the overall goal of data analytics is to develop approaches for analyzing large data sets that are both reproducible and scalable. Being able to use and analyze a variety of sources helps data analysts cross-reference information so that they can provide a more holistic view of all data points. As they uncover and share insights, data analysts focus on improving their own systems to make communicating future insights easier.
Download Our Free Guide to Breaking Into Analytics
A guide to what you need to know, from the industry’s most popular positions to today’s sought-after data skills.
The Power of Data Analysts
Data analysts work across organizations, helping leaders decide how to distribute resources, manage their supply chain, create production schedules, and set prices.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the aviation industry as one example of the impact data analysts can have. When determining how much to charge customers for tickets, data analysts might consider the number of cities flights have to connect to, the amount of fuel it takes to fly between those cities, the expected number of passengers, and any maintenance costs.
Data analytics is also used to improve order fulfillment, service level performance, and customer value. Michael Chapin, CEO of e-commerce floral company FromYouFlowers, shared his experience using data in business with Inc., explaining how his organization used it to predict customer demands and make time-sensitive decisions.
Another common use of data in the commerce industry is the identification of which customers are most likely to become repeat clients. By analyzing purchase history and frequency, organizations can make educated decisions about developing long-term relationships with the customers who are most likely to continue to conduct business with them over time.
How Much Do Data Analysts Make?
The national average salary for data analysts and other data-related occupations is currently $98,230, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, data occupation salaries are greatly influenced by location, industry, and level of experience.
The metros with the highest annual wage mean for data-related positions include:
- San Francisco, CA: $148,680
- New York, NY: $129,250
- Charlotte, NC: $124,850
- Seattle, WA: $121,090
Here’s a look at the annual mean wage salaries that data professionals across the country can expect to make, based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Atlanta, GA: $92,240
- Boston, MA: $115,730
- Chicago, IL: $101,180
- Dallas, TX: $103,860
- Denver, CO: $97,370
- Houston, TX: $110,450
- Los Angeles, CA: $117,550
- Miami, FL: $166,630
- Philadelphia, PA: $92,010
- Phoenix, AZ: $109,000
- San Diego, CA: $119,030
- St. Louis, MO: $97,260
- Washington, D.C.: $108,060
Did You Know: Many of Northeastern University’s regional locations make the list of top-paying cities for data-related professions, including Charlotte, Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Top Skills For Data Analysts
For those interested in advancing their data analytics career, there are specific skills that can help boost your resumé. These top skills include:
- Business intelligence
- Data visualization
- Software development principles
- ERP systems (SAP or Oracle)
- Data mining
- Statistical and quantitative analysis
- Multivariate testing
- Predictive modeling
- Proficiency with tools such as Python, R, SPSS, SQL, and Tableau
Honing these skills will not only allow you to take on the day-to-day responsibilities of the average analyst but also excel in this demanding field.
Earning a master’s degree or graduate certificate in data analytics is a great way to acquire the skills that you will need to be successful in a data analytics role. If you’re interested in building a career in analytics, take the first step by downloading our free, comprehensive guide below.
This article was originally published in July 2017. It has since been updated for accuracy and relevance