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Data industry
careers guide

Fancy a career in the data industry? We have all the knowledge and tips to help you become a data pro.




What is data?

“The gathering of information and knowledge on an area of interest. Sometimes referred to as big data or smart data, it is used to support decision making”

How can companies predict what their customers will want in the future, which products sell best, and how to improve their own infrastructure? The answer is data.

Working in data involves collecting vast amounts of numerical information and using it to identify trends to help fix a company’s problems, make decisions and create models for what might happen in the future. With masses of potential data available the real challenge is to convert ‘big data’ into ‘smart data’ to identify potential issues and resolve them.

Data analysts are currently in high demand, with almost all industries wanting to improve their sales and better understand their clients. This is a lucrative profession for well qualified people (especially those who can code) and is set to remain a key element of industry for the foreseeable future.

How do you breakdown data?

Data can be split into three main types: data stream mining, social media data and publicly available sources.

Data stream mining typically involves using computer network traffic to understand a customer’s online activity, such as what things they tend to click on and at what time of day. This can help with targeted advertising. Social media data likewise tracks what users post and view in order to establish what they are interested in, and all of this is matched with public data that is collected by the government from surveys. The information gained is then collated and split into particular categories (e.g. females aged 18-24) so as to better understand the interests of that particular group when designing products targeted at them. The idea is that by recognising what consumers are interested in, industries can adapt to suit their target audience’s needs, meaning that people will be more likely to buy their product and they’ll earn more money!

Data is constantly being stored. Every time you log on to a website data solutions such as Tetradata, Hadoop and Oracle are tracking what you click on and any trends that begin to emerge. Whereas in the past data was loaded into a traditional relational database for analysis, the increase in ‘big data’ has seen a preference for ‘data lakes’, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) programs which use complex algorithms to look for repeatable patterns. Conclusions about what the data shows can then be formed by using analytics tools such as SAS, R and Excel.

However, whilst more data tends to lead to more accurate analysis, it can be difficult to control. As industry analyst Doug Laney explains, there are 3Vs of big data: volume, variety and velocity. Put simply, it can be difficult to find relevant information in masses of data (volume), manage the different formats that data comes in (variety) and react quickly enough to real-time data such as that posted on social networks (velocity). This is what data analysts have to find solutions for.




Data examples

  • Cisco Systems, 1984, (Leonard Bosack, Sandy Lerner)

  • IBM Personal Computer Model number 5150, IBM, 1981

  • Oracle Corporation, 1977, (Larry Ellison)

Jobs in Data

Jobs in data require an extensive knowledge of various computer programmes (often acquired from maths or maths-related degrees such as computer science, economics or business). Not only do data analysts help companies to make bigger profits but they can also help instigate social change with many government and charitable positions available. Whilst careers in data tend to centre on analysis (and in many smaller companies, the data analyst will deal with both the data mining and the implementation of solutions) a number of more niche positions are also available.

Below we’ve listed some of the key roles in the data industry and all the basic info you should know about them. Find out what happens, the skills you'll need and what you can expect as a starting salary. If you see a job title you like, pop it in your profile so we can match you with employers.

Data Analyst

The umbrella term for anyone who works with data. It is their task to use algorithms and computerized models to track data and identify relevant trends. They must then extrapolate their findings in order to write reports and present them to management, who then decide upon the best course of action.

Skills required:

  • Mathematics
  • Analytical
  • Reporting
  • Identifying trends
  • Proficient in specific software products

Roles:

  • Analytics Executive
    £25k-£40k
  • Data Analyst
    £25k-£40k
  • Data Planner
    £30k-£50k


Business Analyst Professional

Focussing their analysis on the organization or business domain (real or hypothetical), a business analyst professional primarily assesses the business model or its integration with technology.

Skills required:

  • Mathematics
  • Internet finding skills
  • Organised
  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Proficient in specific software products

Roles:

    • Researcher
      £18k-£30k
    • Research Executive
      £18k-£30k
    • Insights Executive
      £18k-£25k
      • Analytics Executive
        £25k-£40k
      • Data Analyst
        £25k-£40k
      • Data Planner
        £30k-£50k


      Predictive Analytics Professional

      With an eye on the future these analysts are largely concerned with predicting what will be next year’s hottest product and how spending patterns will change in order to adapt their company to fit with the times.

      Skills required:

      • Mathematics
      • English
      • Psychology
      • Communication
      • Proficient in specific software products

      Roles:

      • Data Planner
        £30k-£50k
      • Market Research Data Analyst
        £20k-£27k
      • Senior Research Data Analyst
        £50k-£60k



      Data companies

      • Cisco
      • IBM
      • Oracle Corporation
      • Intuit Inc
      • Amazon
      • EMC Corporation
      • CRGT Inc
      • Teradata
      • Sabre
      • Noblis
      • Local Data Company
      • The Data Processing Company
      • Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger & Kenneth Cukier
      • Big Data, Data Mining, and Machine Learning: Value Creation for Business Leaders and Practitioners by Jared Dean
      • Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for the New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend
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