Hays’ Martin Pardey explains what a data analytics professional does, what they can expect in their career and how to develop the necessary skills.
Data analytics has become a critical part of many businesses, but even within the analytics space, there are many roles available, including a data analyst, data engineer, data scientist and data manager. All these roles contribute to the goal of deriving meaningful insight from data.
Data analysts derive insight from data, while data engineers extract and manipulate data from systems and build data capability.
Data scientists, meanwhile, are able to build predictive models that help organisations make decisions based on potential future events, as well as driving automation and artificial intelligence systems. Lastly, data managers look after the data to ensure quality, governance and security.
Data roles used to be mainly centred around extracting simple management information and building reports for key stakeholders so that they could accurately analyse company performance. Now, as organisations become more data-centric, these roles have become complex.
There is a greater focus on ensuring that vast amounts of data can be analysed and accessed at any time across the organisation, as well as be used to build predictive models and power AI systems.
As a result, many organisations have now built internal data practices that employ many different types of data professional.
We have seen salaries for these roles increase steadily over the last few years as demand grows among organisations for better data.
An entry-level data analyst in permanent employment can expect to earn anywhere from £25,000 to £30,000 in the UK, while advanced data engineers and data scientists could even command six-figure salaries. Contract rates vary greatly depending on roles and skills.
Advice for data professionals
Firstly, decide what area of data you want to work in. Are you highly analytical? Do you enjoy number-crunching and solving business problems? Or are you more technical, with a thirst for building data platforms and extracting the right data?
Where possible, try to develop your skills. See whether you can get any hands-on experience where you can actually apply the skills – although, admittedly, this is much easier if you are already at an organisation or educational institution.
If you’re in employment, look for opportunities to work with data within your current company. I’ve heard of companies that are training employees in non-data roles to become data professionals in internal data academies.
For those in higher education, enquire about any projects you can work on. Many universities now have partnerships with major corporate organisations so that you can contribute to real life data projects.
Data skills for non-technical professionals
While the data and analytics profession is strong, the need for data insights across all business levels means data skills have become critical even outside the technical sphere.
Research from Digital Realty revealed that more than one in five (21pc) IT leaders globally highlighted that the lack of internal talent to analyse data, and the lack of talent to build technical capacity (21pc), are among the greatest obstacles their organisations are facing when drawing insights from their data.
Luckily, there is a whole host of online courses out there, depending on what area of data you wish to pursue. For example, My Learning, Hays’ free online learning portal, has lessons in data science and analytics for those interested.
Data analysis forms part of a lot of roles these days. If you’re in employment, you will likely have access to data and reporting systems in your current role. Make sure that you are fully trained on how to use them.
Seek out the head of data in your current company and talk to them about what it takes and whether they can provide you with any support. Enquire about learning resources that your employer already provides and whether there are any courses, classes or even modules that are directly relevant to what you want.
The value of being able to work with data effectively is high, so organisations are likely to see the benefit in supporting you in upskilling as they will benefit from your new skillset at the same time.
Martin Pardey is a director for technology solutions at Hays UK with more than 20 years’ personal recruitment experience in the sector.
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