Data Analytics Career Track

Want to pursue a career in data analytics but don't know where to start? Read more to discover data analytics career paths and salary potential.
portrait of Staff Writers
Staff Writers
Read Full Bio


The staff writers for BestColleges collaborate to deliver unique, student-driven content on topics such as career development, college life, and college planning....
Updated on April 21, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Madison Hoehn
Madison Hoehn
Read Full Bio


Madison Hoehn has worked as an associate editor for BestColleges, focusing on coding bootcamp rankings and the skilled trades. She is passionate about providing readers with alternatives to a traditional four-year college. She holds a BA in English l...
Reviewed by
portrait of Monali Mirel Chuatico
Monali Mirel Chuatico
Read Full Bio


Monali Chuatico is a data engineer at Mission Lane and a data analytics captain at the nonprofit COOP Careers. There, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on ...
Learn more about our editorial process is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

  • Data analytics professionals can earn six-figure salaries.
  • Graduates of data analytics programs work in various industries and professional settings.
  • Jobs for data analytics professionals are projected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Data analytics combines mathematics and computer science, creating many opportunities for professionals to enter the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that computer and information technology jobs will grow by 13% between 2020-2030. The BLS also projects jobs in mathematics to expand by 28% by the end of the decade.

Joining the data analytics field offers opportunities for secure jobs and above-average salaries, with professionals often earning six-figure salaries. Aside from entry-level positions, many companies also hire advanced professionals with managerial and leadership skills to help lead data and IT teams.

Individuals interested in learning more about data analytics, common job titles for these professionals, and average earnings can find all this and more in the guide below.

Find the Right Data Analytics Bootcamp For You

What Is Data Analytics?

Data analytics involves making sense of raw data so people and companies alike can take actionable steps based on findings. Raw data can be hard to understand. But it contains valuable insights that can help shape business behaviors and strategies when broken into accessible forms.

Data analytics can use various processes and techniques to create data sets and identify trends. Data analytics can add important insight and knowledge that help businesses make informed decisions when done correctly.

What Do Data Analysts Do?

Data analysts work with big data to collect, collate, and interpret them to reveal valuable information. They also decide the best way to identify and collect data that requires interpreting and may work with survey researchers or other data collectors to create the proper systems.

After receiving the raw data, these workers clean it of any errors before analyzing it using various software and methodologies. These methods allow them to interpret the data and put it into forms that larger audiences can understand, such as graphs, charts, and tables.

Data Analytics Career Outlook

People looking for a steady, secure job with projected job growth in the coming years can find many data analytics jobs to meet their needs. Data from the BLS projects that operations research analyst positions will grow by 25% between 2020-2030, leading to the creation of more than 25,000 new jobs by 2030. These professionals earned median annual salaries of $86,200 in May 2020, with the top 10% making more than $144,330.

The BLS projects jobs for statisticians and mathematicians to grow by 33% from 2020-2030, leading to more than 15,000 new positions by 2030. These workers made yearly median salaries of $93,290 in May 2020. The top 10% of statisticians made $150,840 during the same year.

Data Analytics Career Paths

As more and more individuals, companies, and governmental agencies come to rely on big data, the need for qualified data analytics professionals will continue growing. Graduates of online data analytics programs can select from several career paths to meet their needs for salary, upward mobility, and work-life balance.

Data Analyst

Data analysts create systems to collect large amounts of data. They then tidy the raw data, organize it according to required data points, and interpret those data points to draw insightful conclusions.

According to March 2022 Payscale information, data analysts earn a yearly average salary of $62,790, with annual bonuses of up to $10,000. Entry-level roles require bachelor's degrees in data management, computer science, or statistics. Advanced positions may require a graduate degree.

Data Scientist

Data scientists' responsibilities resemble those of data analysts in that they use their understanding of analytics, statistics, and data programming to work with big data and translate it into usable information. Unlike data analysts, these professionals go one step further and develop solutions to business challenges. In addition, they develop new questions that data analysts find answers to.

Payscale reports that data scientists earn average base salaries of $97,250 as of March 2022. Entry-level positions usually require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in data science, statistics, or a related field. More advanced positions require a master's degree.

Machine Learning Engineer

Machine learning engineers possess advanced knowledge of artificial intelligence. They develop self-running software that can help automate predictive models based on big data findings. For instance, they can program systems such as search recommendations, chatbots, and virtual assistance with predictive algorithms using consumer findings from established data sets.

Payscale reports that machine learning engineers earn average base salaries of $112,270 as of March 2022. While some base-level roles may accept applicants with bachelor's degrees in computer science or artificial intelligence, most positions look for those with master's degrees.

Data Architect

Data architects work on the industry's data collection and maintenance, creating secure databases based on client needs and coding requirements. After designing the initial database, data architects collect and organize data and seek conclusions based on their findings.

As of March 2022, Payscale reports that data architects earn average base salaries of $123,050, with bonuses between $2,000-$29,000 per year. Most workers hold a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a similar topic.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Also known as business intelligence directors, these professionals oversee the data collection and analysis activities of the companies that employ them. In addition to determining important data points, they also liaise between the IT employees they supervise and upper managers to ensure needs are understood and met.

As of March 2022, Payscale reports that business intelligence directors receive average yearly salaries of $127,770. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in computer science, statistics, or business analytics can typically find entry-level positions. But advanced roles commonly require a master's degree.

What Kind of Skills Do Data Analysts Need?

The best data analysts have a robust portfolio of skills to address complicated data sets and produce results under less-than-ideal circumstances. We look at four must-have skills in this section.


Problem-solving plays an important role in data analysis, as working with large data sets can sometimes create issues. Data analysts who run into issues with corrupted files or unruly data must find creative solutions to address these challenges and move forward.

Attention to Detail

Despite working with incredibly large amounts of data, professionals in this industry must also be able to see and appreciate details. Failing to recognize patterns or trends within the data can result in an inability to provide meaningful insights.

Statistical Programming

Any data analyst looking to succeed must possess a strong understanding of statistics and probability. Learning R or Python programming languages can help professionals improve the data organization and analysis process and produce better outcomes.

Machine Learning

As more companies rely on AI to produce desired outcomes and predictive software, understanding how machine learning works has become required rather than optional. Learning how to code and use algorithms can take someone from a good to a great data analyst.

Is a Career in Data Analytics Worth It?

Pursuing a career in data analytics makes good sense for people who enjoy working in mathematics, computer science, artificial intelligence, and database management. These jobs also appeal to people looking to earn above-average salaries and choose from various industries and clients.

While most professionals in the industry earn salaries above the national average for all occupations, some states pay even more. According to the BLS, New York paid the highest mean wage for statisticians at $127,380 in May 2021. Other top-paying states include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wyoming, and California.

Frequently Asked Questions About Data Analytics Careers

Is data analytics a high-paying job?

Chevron Down

In most cases, data analytics offers above-average salaries. According to the BLS, statisticians earned median annual wages of $110,860 as of 2020. Even those in the lowest 10% of earners made annual median salaries of $61,130.

While entry-level positions pay well, they do pay less than advanced positions with managerial responsibilities. People who decide to continue working in data analytics across their careers can expect to earn substantially more once they gain a few years of experience and advance in their careers.

What degree is best for data analytics?

Chevron Down

Future data analysts can choose from many different academic paths, depending on their interests and career aspirations. Some common degree options include mathematics, computer science, statistics, and artificial intelligence.

Since most entry-level jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, students should consider pursuing this path first. Some learners may decide to earn an associate degree first to ensure they enjoy the subject area before transferring to a four-year program.

How do I start a career in data analytics?

Chevron Down

Starting a career in data analytics typically starts with earning a degree. But people who have already earned a bachelor's in a different subject can also easily transfer into the field. Data analytics coding bootcamps have become increasingly popular as the industry requires more data analytics professionals.

These bootcamps typically take less time than a degree to complete and provide a deep dive into the most important facets of data analytics.

Feature Image: Westend61 / Westend61 / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.