Are you a strategic thinker? Do you have an inquisitive, analytical mind? Do you enjoy crunching numbers and solving big data problems? If so, then a career in data analytics might be a good fit for you.
Our economy is increasingly driven by data. It is a by-product of virtually all business activity across every sector. It’s also among the most valuable commodities in business today. More and more companies are building their business models around capturing, acquiring, storing, and analyzing the mountains of data that are generated every day.
Where companies once relied primarily on experience and intuition, data-driven business intelligence (BI) has increasingly become an essential ingredient in organizational decision-making.1 Data analytics is used to recognize trends, predict and track consumer behavior, gain market insights, improve workforce engagement, and enhance productivity.
“The field of data analytics is constantly evolving,” said Elena Gorcheva, director of UMGC’s data analytics master’s program, “and some key trends are emerging that are shaping the field, such as the potential for Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-3 in automating basic tasks, augmenting and cleaning data, providing models for faster development, and helping to increase productivity.”
What can you do with a master’s in data analytics?
There is high-demand for trained, talented individuals who know how to analyze data, understand the stories they tell, and present their findings to management, and the field is continuing to grow rapidly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of data scientists is projected to grow 36 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.2
A master’s degree in data analytics can help prepare you for a rewarding career to meet the growing demand for data analysts in virtually every industry. Some job titles that fall under the general category of data analytics include
- Data Scientist: The job of a data scientist is to create mathematical models to address real-world problems and help companies make data-driven decisions. Average annual salary is around $120,000.3
- Machine Learning Engineer: Machine learning engineers design and build the artificial intelligence (AI) systems that interpret data in a way that replicates how humans learn. Average salary is about $130,000 per year.3
- Data Engineer: Data engineers create the IT infrastructure that handles a company's data and automates model building for data analysis in support of business decision-making. Average annual salary for data engineers is about $113,900.3
- SQL Developer: Structured Query Language (SQL) is used for managing data held in database management systems. An SQL developer uses the language to create applications, manipulate data, and implement BI-driven solutions. Average annual salary is about $98,000.4
- Data Warehouse Architect: A data warehouse architect designs, builds, and manages the central repository system in which an organization stores and accesses its valuable information. The national average salary is about $132,000 per year.4
- Quantitative Analyst: Often employed by financial institutions, quantitative analysts design and implement models that help companies make sound financial decisions, particularly in the pricing and trading of securities. Salaries average around $107,000 per year.4
Employers are looking for candidates with good problem-solving skills, a strong foundation in probability and statistics, knowledge of predictive modeling and machine learning, fluency in SQL, and proficiency in statistical programming languages, among other skills.
"Another critical factor driving change in data analytics is the trend toward explainable AI," said Gorcheva. "As machine learning models become more complex, there is a growing need to understand how these models arrive at their decisions regarding data collection and usage and to ensure that they are ethical.”
In addition, employers may require more specialized certifications, such as Certified Analytics Professional (CAP), IBM Cognos Analytics Developer, SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming, and Tableau Desktop Specialist.
Learn data analytics at UMGC
The online Master of Science in data analytics (MSDA) program at UMGC offers cutting-edge, skills-focused curriculum providing real-world analytics and hands-on experience. When considering program length, it is important to know that UMGC’s data analytics degree can be completed entirely online, in as few as 24 months. The degree program is designed to help you learn data and AI techniques, manage and manipulate data, create visualizations, build predictive models, and make strategic data and AI-driven recommendations to influence business outcomes.
You’ll develop knowledge of emerging fields like AI, data science, and data management; gain experience in programming languages like SQL and Python; and work in software like Tableau and SAS. Your online classroom comes with no-cost digital course materials, including software applications such as Tableau, SAS, and cloud data science and AI services, so you’ll never have to pay for books or software.
“We are updating our courses, including materials and assignments” said Gorcheva, “to prepare students on these developing trends in explainable AI and ethical machine learning. Students are also learning how to use LLMs for some of the course projects and how it can impact their careers in data analytics."
The courses in the MS in data analytics program are also designed to help prepare you for exams in all of the specialized certifications listed above.
You’ll also learn from experienced mentors. Your courses will be taught by our faculty of highly successful and experienced scholar-practitioners who are leaders in their fields. In your capstone project, you’ll work with your UMGC instructor and/or an additional industry mentor who’ll help guide your project to completion.
A dedicated UMGC success coach will support you throughout your academic journey in mapping out your educational and career goals and assisting with class selection. And wherever you are in your career, you'll always have access to UMGC’s lifetime career services to help you in your job search and career development.
The field of data analytics can offer stable employment in high-paying positions for those with the right training. An online master's degree in data analytics from UMGC can prepare you for a rewarding career in this fascinating and growing field.