Considering a career in data and analytics – four ways to get your foot in the door

| March 23, 2016 | 0 Comments


According to users of American online employment analysts Glassdoor, the role of data scientist is the best job in the world. There are numerous reasons for the accolade: it’s well-paid, challenging, and helps solve real world problems. An explosive growth in both the analytical hardware and software and the sharing of big data solutions and ideas has given a new impetus to these roles, making them the dream ticket for technologists, economists, scientists, marketers, and many other sectors. It’s competitive – and here’s how to get in.

Learn the difference

Data and analytics are not necessarily the same, and do not necessarily use the same processes. In this erudite comparison by Forbes’ Piyanka Jain, the difference is explained thus: the data is all the information brought in, while analytics is the process, ‘performed on data that has been delivered by BI for the purpose of generating insights to drive decisions, actions and, eventually, revenue or other impacts.’

So, for simplicity, do you want to bring the data in, or do you want to assess it? And once you’ve established an answer….

Pinpoint your desired role

There are a huge number of both existing and emerging roles in data and analytics, from taking on a place in a start-up SME as a business partner, to a global giant.

And some don’t even exist yet, at least in the minds of the wider populace. For example, an Internet of Things architect is a job title that will become more widespread, from companies that want to harness the feeling of connectedness and use it to their advantage. According to InfoWorld, Verizon recently advertised for an IoT solutions architect. This is just the start; retail, pharma, insurance, banking and other sectors will start seeking people who can specifically relate their more generic skills to particular jobs.

Fill your skills gap

You’ll have mathematical and analytical skills, otherwise there’s no point in reading this piece any further. Those skills might have grown through a computer sciences degree, or software engineering, or pure mathematics or economics. You should know how to pull data from a MySQL database and analyse an Excel pivot table.

What about the soft skills? Can you communicate in an effective and informative way? Can you brainstorm? Can you provide feedback and back it up? Can you manage people? You might not regard these as vital, but take a role such as a business partner where you analyse the financial data of a given business unit against objectives, and give feedback on their viability.

Look around

Everyone assumes that the best jobs in England are in London, and California in America.

Yes, flying out to the west coast will offer a huge range of roles in Silicon Valley, in a world of start-ups, venture capital, angel investors and surfboards. Maybe you’ll head to India, where at least one CEO described the current market as “one of the most exciting times to be alive for data science professionals. We are standing at an inflection point in history, after which analytics and data science will become an integral part of any product or service available.”

However, there’s no need to travel quite so far when there are so many great jobs closer to home. For example, companies such as BGL Group – with offices in Peterborough and London – regularly promote multiple opportunities in data and analytics, as well as technology and marketing. Elsewhere in the county is Cambridge – according to ‘the knowledge intensive sectors of computing, life sciences, research services and high-tech manufacturing… have grown steadily over the last four years, with a compound growth rate of turnover of over 7.9% per annum to £11 billion and employment growth of 4.5% to 58,000.’ Also impressive are Liverpool, Brighton and Bournemouth – the fastest growing city in the digital economy.

The conclusion: look for the opportunities, not the location.





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