Why Get a Big Data Analytics Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 27, 2017
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The field of data analytics or data analysis focuses on both quantitative and qualitative processes and techniques. Its goal is to make businesses more profitable by improving productivity. Data is gathered from various sources, after which it is categorized in an effort to spot and understand trends and patterns. It focuses primarily on the B2C (business-to-customer) application. All over the world, data is collected and analyzed in the B2C field, and then used to understand trends and patterns in consumer behavior. Data analytics is hugely important because it enables specialists and managers to make the proper decisions.

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Data analytics is often confused with data science, but they are not entirely the same. Data science is an evolution of various disciplines starting to work together and share information. However, as this has grown so much and so rapidly, the field of data science has further evolved, which resulted in the emergence of data analytics. As such, it is a sub-discipline within data science.

Big Data Analytics Opportunity

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes data analytics specialists as market research analysts, who earned an average annual salary of $62,560 in May 2016. The BLS has also reported that there will be a 19% increase in demand for this specialist from 2014 to 2024, which is around three times the national average. This will translate in 92,300 new positions.

IBM, meanwhile, has reported that Big Data, a key component of data analytics, is only getting bigger. The world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. By 2020, this will have added up to 43 trillion gigabytes, or 40 zettabytes. Naturally, the amount of data has no way to go but up.

Big Data Analytics Career Paths

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a market research analyst in May 2016 was $62,560. The bottom 10% of earners had an annual salary of $33,950 or less, whereas the top 10% of earners enjoyed a salary of $121,720 or more. The career path these people chose, and particularly the industry in which they work, is of significant influence to these earnings.

According to the BLS:

  • Management of companies and enterprises employ 8% of market research analysts, earning an average annual salary of $71,570.
  • Finance and insurance employs 10% of market research analysts, earning an average annual salary of $69,730.
  • Manufacturing employs 8% of market research analysts, earning an average annual salary of $69,330.
  • Wholesale trade employs 10% of market research analysts, earning an average annual salary of $60,590.
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services employ 10% of market research analysts, earning an average annual salary of 58,640.

Meanwhile, Payscale.com has reported on popular career paths for those in the field of data analytics and their associated salaries. This showed that:

  • Data Analysts earned salaries of between $56,460 and $81,094 per year.
  • Financial Analysts earned an average annual salary of $57,000.
  • Business Insight and Analytics Managers earned an average annual salary of $93,301.
  • Senior Data Analysts earned an average annual salary of $85,000.
  • Project Management Managers earned an average annual salary of $100,000.
  • Data Scientists earned an average annual salary of $67,281.
  • Analytics Managers earned an average annual salary of $104,762.

Big Data Analytics Salaries

Where people work in the country is also of vital important to how much they can earn. That said, it should be noted that the geographical areas in which salaries are higher, usually also have a higher cost of living. The BLS has reported that the best states to work in, in terms of salary, are:

  • California, with average annual earnings of $80,560
  • Delaware, with average annual earnings of $79,280
  • Washington, with average annual earnings of $79,190
  • Massachusetts, with average annual earnings of $79,030
  • Texas, with average annual earnings of $78,440

The Payscale.com report also looked at the different cities where data analytics specialists work, and their associated salaries. It was found that those working in:

  • New York, New York, earned an average annual salary of $75,000.
  • Seattle, Washington, earned an average annual salary of $69,919.
  • Columbus, Ohio, earned an average annual salary of $86,750.
  • Irvine, California, earned an average annual salary of $87,500.
  • Washington, District of Columbia, earned an average annual salary of $70,000.
  • Boston, Massachusetts, earned an average annual salary of $85,000.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, earned an average annual salary of $82,424.

Big Data Analytics Employers

Aside from the geographical location, the company that they work for is also of importance when looking at possible earnings. Indeed.com has reported on the most popular employers across the country and the corresponding salaries:

  • Microsoft, with an average salary of $92,326 per year.
  • Insight Global, with an average salary of $79,549 per year.
  • Capital One, with an average salary of $90,219 per year.
  • ConocoPhillips, with an average salary of $94,266 per year.
  • Cisco, with an average salary of $69,951 per year.
  • TEKsystems, with an average salary of $69,161 per year.
  • Bank Of America, with an average salary of $79,922 per year.
  • PwC, with an average salary of $56,257 per year.
  • Apex Systems, with an average salary of $83,731 per year.
  • Volt, with an average salary of $80,952 per year.

Online Big Data Analytics Degree

Be on the forefront of big data and gain critical skills to advance in the analytics industry with the W. P. Carey Master of Science in Business Analytics (MS-BA) degree or Bachelors of Science in Business Data Analytics (BA-BA) degree.From smartphones to social media to the emerging “Internet of Things,” companies need to manage more complex data every day. This explosion of big data impacts every part of the global economy, and employment of data professionals is expected to reach 2.7 million in the U.S. by 2020, according to IBM.

Big Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degree

It stands to reason that in order to gain a lucrative career in the field of data analytics, you will need a good education. This starts with a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, many schools now offer their degree programs online. Thus, obtaining that degree is now much more convenient. One example of a bachelor’s degree program in data analytics is offered by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. The program’s curriculum includes courses in:

  • Big Data Analytics and Visualization in Business
  • Business Data Mining
  • Business Data Warehouses and Dimensional Modeling
  • Business Database Systems Development
  • Business Decision Models
  • Business Information Systems Development
  • Enterprise Analytics
  • Introduction to Business Data Analytics
  • Logistics Management
  • Marketing and Business Performance
  • Organizations and Management leadership
  • Planning and Control Systems for Supply Chain Management
  • Social Media and Content Marketing
  • Web Design and Development

Big Data Analytics Master’s Degree

After the bachelor’s degree, there is the master’s degree, which you should really consider if you want to reach much further in your career. This will give you the opportunity to gain advanced skills and knowledge in your field, which would understandably make you much more in demand. Just like with the bachelor’s degree, many MBA degree programs are now also offered online, which makes it easier than ever to obtain a degree without having to completely stop working.

The Master in Business Administration (MBA) with a Data Analytics concentration is increasing in popularity, as the link between big data and business administration is becoming increasingly evident. That said, there continue to be a number of schools that offer a master’s degree fully dedicated to data analytics. One example of this is the Master of Science in Analytics offered by Northwestern University, McCormick School of Engineering.

Big Data Analytics Admission Requirements

Each school is allowed to specify its own admission requirements. Nevertheless, they are usually quite similar because the primary purpose is to determine whether or not someone has the academic capacity to complete a program at the graduate degree level. The admissions requirements for the master’s degree programs at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering are:

  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • All official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GMAT/GRE scores
  • Candidate video
  • TOEFL/IELTS for non-native English speakers

Big Data Analytics Curriculum

Each college or university will have its own curriculum. This is why it is very important to study with an accredited university, as this assures prospective employers that your degree included courses that meet the minimum requirements for the profession.

For Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering’s master of science in analytics, the curriculum includes:

  • Industry Practicum
  • Databases Retrieval
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Optimization and Heuristics
  • Analytical Consulting Project Leadership
  • Data Mining
  • Introduction to Java & Python Programming
  • Data Visualization
  • Analytics for Big Data
  • Data Warehousing and Workflow Management
  • Capstone Design Project

Big Data Analytics Financial Assistance

It is a commonly know fact that getting an education, especially a master’s degree, is expensive. It requires substantial investments in both time and money. Luckily, the college or university can help you in your search for financial aid, and they may also have scholarships and grants available for you. At the same time, there are a number of external scholarships that you may want to consider. These include the:

  • AFSA Scholarship Program Internship, which offers a salary with a $600 stipend.
  • BrainTrack Computer Science Scholarship, with an award of between $500 and $1,000.
  • Charlie Corr Memorial Scholarship, with an annual award of $2,000.
  • DPMA/PC Scholarship Program, to the value of $1,000.
  • Eli Lilly and Company Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
  • HIMSS Foundation Scholarships, to the value of $5,000.
  • Information Assurance Scholarship Program, with a stipend of $17,000 for undergraduates or $22,000 for graduate students.
  • INFORMS Data Analytics Scholarship Competition, to the value of $3,000.
  • Johnson & Johnson Scholarships, to a value of between $1,000 and $2,5000.
  • Lt. General Ronald Iverson ROTC Scholarship, to the value of $3,000.

It should be noted that applying for scholarships means that you have to meet certain requirements, such as studying at a certain school, taking on a certain concentration, focusing on a certain field, demonstrating financial need, holding a minimum GPA, belonging to a certain minority group, being a member of a professional organization, or being of a certain gender.

Big Data Analytics Certifications

Getting certified is not required in the field of data analytics, but it would be very helpful. A certification would make you stand out among the crowd and can lead to further career advancement. Of course, it is vital to remember that obtaining certification requires a further investment of time and money, and you often have to maintain certification through continuous education credits. Nevertheless, this is a worthy investment, as it opens more career doors. Some certifications that you may want to consider in the field of data analytics are:

  • CCP Data Scientist
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence
  • MongoDB Certified DBA
  • MongoDB Certified Developer
  • Oracle Business Intelligence
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist

Essentially, what potential employers look for is someone who is not just experienced in the field of data analytics studies, but who is also familiar with the various programs used within data analytics. Having Oracle and SAP qualifications, for instance, can ensure that you don’t just understand the data and where it comes from, but also the technical aspects of how it is collected and analyzed from a computer’s perspective.

Big Data Analytics Associations

Becoming a member of certain professional organizations as soon as you decide to study towards a data analytics degree, is advisable even at the bachelor’s degree level. First of all, professional associations and organizations usually offer scholarships and grants. Secondly, you will always be at the forefront of new developments within your field. This ensures that your skills and knowledge are always up to date. Third, you find it easier to obtain certain certifications and continuous education credits. Finally, you can build a professional network, which would be very helpful for your career as some of these people could provide you with various opportunities that could enhance your career. Some of the organizations to consider are the:

  • Digital Analytics Association
  • Data Science Association
  • World Analytics Association
  • International Institute for Analytics
  • DAMA International


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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