Analyzing Professions: Management Analyst vs. Program Analyst

Both management analysts and program analysts work in companies, government agencies, and nonprofits, ensuring their organizations are functioning efficiently on a day-to-day basis. In general, they serve to evaluate the effectiveness of existing operations in meeting specified objectives and targets. When they spot inefficiencies, they make recommendations on how to fill these gaps.

While both roles are integral to organizational maintenance and growth, when it comes to management analysts vs. program analysts, the differences between the two roles can be found in their focus. Management analysts are focused on overall organizational functionality and productivity, while program analysts are more technically focused and deal specifically with the business’s technological systems. For instance, a management analyst might make recommendations regarding staffing to improve productivity, while a program analyst might make recommendations regarding updates to corporate software systems to speed up work processes.

This article examines further similarities and differences between management analysts and program analysts, including the duties and required skills for each role as well as their salaries and job outlooks. It further explains how an education in business data analytics can prepare graduates for either career path.

A program analyst at work.

Similarities: Management Analyst vs. Program Analyst

Management analysts and program analysts ultimately share one goal: to improve an organization’s efficiency in achieving its goals. To do this, they rely on the use of fact-based data gathered from the real world. Businesses are becoming more reliant on data than ever before. Computer technology makes it easier to amass large sets of data, but all the information that data holds is only useful if it can be analyzed. Essentially, data must be made meaningful if it is to be used to inform decisions regarding existing and future business operations. This is where analysts come in.

A further similarity between management analysts and program analysts is that both look for patterns and trends in data that could indicate opportunities to enhance business operations — or to identify threats that might hinder them. First, they use database principles to gather, organize, and sort through operational data about suppliers, finances, or competitors. Then, they use computational tools to evaluate that data, drawing actionable insights from their findings. They may also use data visualization tools, creating charts, graphs, and maps to present the results of their data collection and analysis in a way that makes it comprehensible to staff in all areas of the organization. Finally, the information they gather can also be used for predictive modeling and forecasting.

To succeed in their work, both management analysts and program analysts require the following skills:

  • Critical thinking: Analysts must be able to draw conclusions from the data they work with. This requires critical thinking abilities, which allow them to objectively compare and contrast data outcomes.
  • Problem solving: Analysts will inevitably pinpoint obstacles to operational efficiency through their work. When they find such bottlenecks, they should be able to propose possible solutions.
  • Communication: Analysts must be able to communicate their findings, for instance to company leadership. They may also be required to train others to properly utilize the problem solving strategies that they recommend.

An education in business data analytics can teach these skills as well as the technical core competencies that professionals will need to excel as a management analyst or program analyst. The Maryville University online master’s in business data analytics offers a relevant mix of courses covering both hard and soft skills, including:

  • Data Analytics: Students acquire knowledge of data mining techniques and quantitative analysis methods needed to evaluate the data they gather. They also learn how to use basic data modeling tools to illustrate situations that require action.
  • Database Principles: Students learn how to design, develop, and manage databases as well as how to integrate new databases into existing organizational structures. This course covers topics such as web-enabled technologies, middleware, and database server architecture.
  • Data Visualization: Students learn how to create visuals such as charts and graphs to show the results of their data analysis. These visuals can be used in presentations to board members and other stakeholders to inform business decision-making.
  • Data Mining: Students learn how to analyze structured and unstructured data. They are taught data classification and cluster analysis as well as NoSQL, a type of database that allows for simplified data storage and retrieval.
  • Introduction to Programming: Students learn the basic principles of programming. This includes an introduction to programming languages such as SQL, a domain-specific language that is used to manage data in relational database management systems such as NoSQL.

Mastery of these skills will prepare students for a career as either a management analyst or a program analyst.

Differences: Management Analyst vs. Program Analyst

While they share an overarching goal and use similar processes, management analysts and program analysts differ in where they focus their energies. Management analysts support a company’s efforts to improve overall efficiency, while program analysts concentrate on improving the efficiency of an organization’s computer and tech-driven systems. For this reason, program analysts typically need more advanced computer skills. Individuals who enjoy programming and technical work may be better suited to a career as a program analyst.

The roles of management analysts and program analysts also differ in terms of pay. PayScale data from September 2019 reports that management analysts earn a median salary of around $66,000 per year. Again according to PayScale, program analysts earn a median annual salary of around $67,000. For both, the job outlook is positive in the coming years. The BLS reports expected growth of 14% for management analysts between 2018 and 2028, much higher than the average for all jobs (5%). Meanwhile, the International Data Corporation predicts worldwide revenue growth for big data and business analytics solutions, forecasting that by 2022, the market will have reached $260 billion worldwide. Given this massive industry growth, program analysts with data analytics skills are sure to be in demand.

The Maryville University Master’s in Business Data Analytics Online

Individuals who want to play an integral role in improving an organization’s operational efficiency, whether for a corporation, nonprofit, or government agency, can benefit from a comprehensive education in data analytics. The Maryville University master’s in business data analytics online program includes coursework that is valuable to both program analysts and management analysts. Students gain the skills needed not only to work with data — compiling, organizing, and storing it — but also to identify opportunities and trends based on analysis of that data. They will further master the skills needed to competently present this complex information to others in their organization.

In addition to providing such theoretical and practical knowledge, the program gives students the chance to put their skills to the test through a conclusive capstone course. In this final learning module, students have the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have learned. This gives them hands-on experience and allows them to create a project they can use to show future employers. With the credentials of a master’s in data analytics in hand and a portfolio already begun, Maryville students will be ready to enter the job market upon graduation.

Recommended Reading
Business Data Analytics vs. Finance Master’s Programs

Data Anonymization: What It Is and What It Is Not

The Future of Big Data in Business: Using Data Analytics to Provide Insight

International Data Corporation, “Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries”

PayScale, Average Management Analyst Salary

PayScale, Average Program Analyst Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts

U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Flysheet for Management and Program Analysis Series, GS-0343

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