Even if you’re not part of the business world, you’re still confronted daily by the idea of data. Data is everywhere. Without even trying, you generate data just by visiting Facebook, doing a Google search, sending a tweet, or downloading an app.
Data represents a potential gold mine of information—one that can give businesses a competitive edge if they can master the art of gathering it, analyzing it, and putting it to good use. The past few years have truly seen data analysis go mainstream. More and more companies are using it to further their reach, boost sales, operate more efficiently, and introduce new products and services.
Skilled business analysts power these data-driven business decisions. People who are both naturally curious and trained in data analysis can have a huge impact on a business, driving important decisions that improve internal operations or identify future opportunities that could spark new growth. The rise of big data has led to a boom in business analytics careers and, along with that, a growing number of people seeking an MS in Business Analytics. In fact, Glassdoor identified data scientist as one of the “25 Best Jobs in America for 2016” with an above-average median salary of $116,840.
The question is: What can you do with an MS in Business Analytics? Let’s take a look at five business analytics career paths and which one might be best suited for you.
5 Growing Business Analytics Careers
1. Data Scientist, With An Emphasis On Computer Science
Some people who enter the field of analytics are particularly interested in the technical side of the job. These data scientists work closely with databases and coding, high-performance computing and parallel processing, and machine learning. Such tools make it possible to process data (manipulate it with computers) and organize data (classify data sets); machine learning is used to create predictions that can be leveraged for business purposes.
Data scientists also use a variety of tools for data visualization. The ability to present hard data and analysis in the form of charts and tables (i.e., in a way that everyone can understand it!) is especially important in the business world. Skilled data scientists are also continually striving to keep current on new and emerging tools that can help them do their job better, like Python, Spark, Scala, and Julia, to name just a few.
Many people who go on to get an MS in Business Analytics and are interested in this part of the field have backgrounds in engineering, mathematics, or accounting. They enjoy combing through data and using statistical tools to uncover patterns.
2. Data Scientist, With An Emphasis On Analysis
Not all data scientists are created equal. Some people who enter the field have a greater interest in analysis and modeling than they do in computer science. Compared with the previous type of data scientist (which is heavy on computer science), this path focuses more on math and statistics. With excellent knowledge of statistics and coding skills, these data scientists build complicated models and simulations in a big data environment.
Bentley students who are excited by this career path may be interested in any of these data science electives:
- Web-Based Application Development
- Data Management Architectures
- Business Intelligence Methods & Technologies
- Object-Oriented Application Development
3. Quantitative Analyst/Modeler
“Quants,” as they are sometimes called, typically work in the financial industry and use data and data modeling to help manage risk. They often use data models to support investment decisions, which leads to more reliable and consistent results.
People who choose this track typically have backgrounds in mathematics, science, computer science, or engineering. Here, employers are looking less for people with traditional business analytic skills and more for those with an aptitude for scientific thinking. The ability to work with mathematical models is more valuable simply because it offers more concrete results—and avoids the risks associated with human reasoning.
Bentley students who are interested in this area of business analytics might choose to take any of the following electives:
- Fixed Income Valuation & Strategies
- Equity Valuation
4. Data Business Analyst
While data scientists are primarily concerned with generating actionable information in the form of data, a data business analyst uses that information to generate insights about the business.
This career path appeals to people who are seeking a blend of business-related tasks and data analysis. Inquisitiveness and the ability to see the big picture are typical characteristics among people in this field. A data business analyst is knowledgeable about the technical components related to managing and manipulating data but is also active in utilizing data to solve a company’s problems.
A data business analyst might be able to discern relationships among certain variables or identify potentially meaningful patterns within data. Observations such as these could provide a better understanding of business conditions or point to future actions that would benefit the company. Like a quantitative analyst, a data business analyst is likely to work closely with business VPs and senior managers to provide decision support in the form of predictions and optimizations, and their discoveries could impact almost any area of a company, from product development and customer service to internal operations and marketing.
5. Business Analyst Manager Or Consultant
If being a leader suits you, you may be interested in becoming a manager or a consultant in the field of business analytics.
People in these roles have a good grasp of the technical tools and methods that make up the foundation of data analytics, but they do not deal with these aspects regularly. Instead, they direct business efforts related to data gathering and processing, generate big-picture insights together with their data team, and work with leaders in other areas of the company to implement these data-driven changes.
In this case, business skills such as communication, leadership, and strategic thinking are important. Managers play a major role in moving their organizations forward by addressing difficult business challenges, exposing new opportunities, and driving future change.
Bentley students who are interested in management usually elect to take classes in:
- Leading Change
- Leading Effective Work Teams
- Leading Responsibly
Business Analytics: Titles Vs. Roles
The field of business analytics is attracting new people every day. It’s exciting and important work, and, for many people, encompasses a variety of tasks and job duties. The Bentley MS in Business Analytics program further encourages students to hone in on their interests by selecting elective courses in various professional areas, from finance, to information, management, to marketing.
However broad the duties of a business analyst may be, you should be thoughtful about choosing a specific career path—and aware of the disparity in job titles. Careers in business analytics are wide-ranging and varied, but that reality isn’t always reflected in job titles. A job simply labeled as “data scientist” could mean almost any version of the areas above, depending on the company and its needs. Beyond knowing what you want out of a job, it’s important to be sure that your prospective employer wants the same thing.