Every time a customer interacts with a computerized system, whether at a Grocery Store, Online Store, or Social Media site, data is created and stored in a data solution system. Tools then convert this data into metrics (known as analytics) that assess consumer behavior.
Analytic professionals interpret analytical data and utilize statistics, predictive modeling, and managerial strategies to drive business decisions. Analytics are used in nearly every industry. Marketing companies use analytics to measure and analyze performance of different initiatives, financial firms use analytics to analyze investments and forecast future scenarios, charter schools use analytical data to inform teaching practices, and major movie studios use analytics to project ticket sales.
Behavior analytics, an emerging subfield, deals with the analysis of eCommerce platforms, mobile applications, and websites to gain insights into their customer base. Behavioral analytics seek to assess what consumers do, who they are, and how their behavior might impact future behavior.
Related to the field of Analytics is Data Science. Data scientists rely on data sources, statistics,
and analytics, but focus more on the application and modeling of data. Data Science is an
interdisciplinary field that uses scientific processes and systems to extract knowledge and
insights from data in various forms. Data Scientists borrows techniques and strategies from
many fields, including computer science, mathematics, and information sciences.
Increased use of applied analytics and data science in all industries has created more
opportunities for stat-savvy liberal-arts graduates.
Statisticians (also called “data scientists”) work in a variety of fields collecting and analyzing data using statistical methods to solve real-world problems. Statisticians typically hold master’s degrees or higher. “Analyst” positions typically require a bachelor’s degree, and recent graduates can expect information management, pattern and trend assessment, data aggregation, and insight analysis as key objectives of analytic work. Analysts work in every field, from marketing, to finance, to computer systems, to healthcare. Employers are looking for strong mathematical and technical literacy skills, as well as research and communication skills. Experience with data systems like Stata, R, and Excel is always in demand.
The roles of analysts and statisticians may be different depending on which industry or specialty they are in. Below are examples of just some different types of analytic work across disciplines.
Financial Analyst–Assess performance of stocks and bonds to inform businesses and individuals making investment decisions.
Market Research Analyst–Gather data on consumers, companies, products, and competitors to understand how to best produce, sell, and market products people want.
Healthcare Analyst–Compile, model, and validate medical data to help hospitals and healthcare organizations understand the health landscape, improve operations, and better serve their patients.
Government Analyst–Analyze situations and data on policy effects to determine areas for policy improvement, and suggest ways to correct or strengthen existing initiatives. Government analysts can also include intelligence analysts, forensic analysts, or budget analysts.
Research Statistician–Evaluate which types of data are needed to answer a research question, design surveys and experiments to collect necessary data, and analyze data to present findings and trends.
Analytical Modeler–Develop sophisticated analytical models to predict behavior or analyze potential effects of organizational changes.
Examples of companies that commonly hire college-age students for analyst or statistician positions include:
- Consulting Firms (Accenture, Bain, McKinsey, BCG, Analysis Group)
- Financial Firms (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Fidelity, Vanguard)
- Healthcare Firms (Amgen, McKesson, OptumHealth, Regeneron, BlueCross BlueShield)
- Technology and Data Firms (IBM, Intel, IDC, Gartner, Forrester)
- Government Departments (National Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Protection Agency, FBI, Congressional Budget Office)
Other large companies like Proctor & Gamble, Nike, PayPal, or L.L. Bean may also hire analysts to assess operation efficiency, develop models, or assess consumer data.
From the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- 2016 Median Salary (Master’s level): $80,500
- 2016 Median Salary (Analyst): $60,000-$80,000
Do your research to get a better sense of what specific companies in particular cities are paying entry-level employees. Check out Glassdoor and Salary.com to get an idea. Also, a cost of living calculator can be very useful when trying to compare salaries in different parts of the country.