It’s no surprise that business analytics was named one of the top 10 hottest tech skills in 2017, according to Computerworld. You’ve heard all the buzz about Big Data in the past few years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 59% of human resource professionals see the demand for positions requiring data analysis skills increasing in the next five years.
The opportunities for job seekers with data analysis skills are abundant. Big Data careers range from statisticians, who are number crunchers, to visualization specialists, who interpret data into graphs and other visuals. More technical roles are available, like those in data infrastructure (with a focus on how data is housed and accessed) and machine learning (with a focus on automating statistical and visual interpretations of data).
Because of the insights companies can glean from data, careers are available in many industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top three employers of operations research analysts are finance and insurance (26%), professional, scientific and technical services (23%), and manufacturing (11%). And Computerworld reports healthcare companies and the retail sector are clamoring for these skills as well.
If you have the interest in business analytics, here’s how to break into the field.
What You Need to Know about Business Analytics
First, you must possess or be interested in gaining the skills necessary for success in business analytics. Depending on the role, companies may require a specialization in a certain methodology of processing data. Common examples include agile business analysis, Six Sigma, Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) and Rational Unified Process (RUP). No matter what the role, be sure to be honest in the interview process about what technical skills you possess and what you need to work on.
Hone Your Non-Tech Skills
While there are certainly specific technical skills you’ll need, other strengths that are imperative include strong communication skills, problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills. Low-tech skills are just as important as the technical know-how because they allow you to be more than a data nerd. Hristo Gyoshev, head of business operations and strategy at MasterClass, said in a Fast Company article he wants his data scientists to have a broad understanding of the context of the problem they are asked to solve. He also values learning and adaptability when seeking out business analyst candidates.
Chris Hunter, a business analyst at Monster Worldwide, interviewed for mastersindatascience.org, said two key traits of a successful business analyst are being a creative thinker and conducting quality research. He says the ability to understand, extract and piece together data to craft a solution “will make or break any business analyst.” Similarly, data analysts have to rely on those qualities to better understand what is being researched and to convey what they uncover to the people making business decisions, according to Al Melchior, Fantasy Sports Data Analyst for CBSSports.com.
Hunter’s advice for students like you is to ask away! Because you’ll need to know all the ins and outs of the data and what decisions hang in the balance, ask any and all questions you have as soon as they come to mind. You’ll be better equipped to address the issue.