Is a Master’s in Data Analytics Worth It?Is a Master’s in Data Analytics Worth It?Is a Master’s in Data Analytics Worth It?

The continued growth of the digital age means businesses, healthcare organizations, and governmental agencies are being inundated with big data. Transforming the meaningless bits of data into usable materials that can provide a competitive advantage requires people who can analyze, interpret, and define the information.

So is a master’s in data analytics worth it? If you’re looking for a career that will put you in high demand among employers, the answer is a resounding yes. Big data has created a need for more employees who are skilled in both business and data analytics, a 2016 McKinsey Global Institute report found—and as a growing number of companies use data to power growth and move into new business sectors, there are not enough data scientists to fill that need. Currently, there is a shortage of 250,000 business data analysts and data scientists, providing ample growth opportunities for students pursuing a master’s in data analytics.

“Across the board, companies report that finding the right talent is the biggest hurdle they face in trying to integrate data and analytics into their existing operations,” the McKinsey report said. “Approximately half of executives across geographies and industries reported greater difficulty recruiting analytical talent than filling any other kind of role.”

finance report on tablet

The Advent of Big Data Creates a Need for Data Analytics

Data comes in all forms and covers all topics, from benign interactions on social media to crime statistics used by law enforcement. About 90% of the data today has been created in just the past few years, leading to the advent of big data. Each day, about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created. When taken individually, they form a big mess of information. But when woven together into cohesive groups, the data becomes valuable chunks of information that can be used in millions of applications.

Applying Big Data in Business

Big data analytics is used in a variety of business applications and throughout various organizations. Among them are the following:

  • Finance and Banking. Financial institutions use data-driven information to detect and uncover fraud, follow through on financial regulations, and mitigate risks.
  • Manufacturing. Industrial, high-tech, and automotive manufacturers utilize operations and cost reductions data to optimize supply chains.
  • Public Sector. Government agencies crunch data of all types to make and update financial reports, improve social services, and analyze crime trends.
  • Healthcare. Electronic records management, evidence-based medicine, and predictive healthcare data help medical professionals make clinical decisions.
  • Education. Academic and administrative decision-makers use test scores, student attendance records, and teacher retention data to support changes to education policy both inside and outside the classroom.
  • E-commerce. Online retailers are using customer feedback and predictive sales analytics to increase business.

Why Bother with Big Data?

A recent research report by the MIT Sloan Management Review found organizations that utilize data science and analytics have a competitive advantage over ones that do not, and managers remain optimistic about the potential for analytics.

The review found companies that successfully use business analytics are more likely to have strategic plans for its uses that align with the organization’s corporate strategy.
Those companies that do not use business analytics are “not prepared for the robust investment and cultural change that are required to achieve sustained success with analytics,” researchers found.

“Companies that have not been able to use analytics for competitive advantage — or those that have lost their analytical edge due to rapid advances in the marketplace —
need to understand the level of commitment and hard work required to execute and sustain a successful analytics strategy,” review researchers said.

Why a Master’s in Data Analytics is Worth It: Digging into Data Analytics Careers

If you’re still wondering whether a master’s in data analytics is worth it, let’s take a closer look at the prospects of a career in data analytics. In a report written in conjunction with Business-Higher Education Forum and Burning Glass Technologies, IBM found 59% of all data science and analytics jobs are in the finance, insurance, professional services, and information technology fields.

The bigger-picture challenge for the future of data science and analytics is having a skilled workforce in place. IBM recently forecast the demand for data scientists would increase by 28% by 2020. The number of data science and analytics job openings is projected to grow from 2.6 million to 2.7 million in less than three years.

For day-to-day work, data scientists spend a majority of their time cleaning and organizing data, a 2016 Crowdflower report found. Often called “data wrangling,” the work entails tasks that include moving commas and debugging databases. It is a vital component to getting high-quality output. The remainder of the workday is spent collecting data sets, mining data for patterns, and refining algorithms, among other things, Crowdflower found.

Job search site Glassdoor found data scientist to be the No. 1 best job in the United States in 2017, based on the number of job openings, salaries, and overall job satisfaction ratings. Glassdoor found job satisfaction rated 4.4 out of 5 with a median salary of $110,000.

A recent Glassdoor search found more than 4,000 job postings for data scientist positions. Among the most lucrative skills for data science and analytics professionals include certification in Microsoft’s SQL and Azure platforms.

At the same time, IBM found data science and analyst jobs are among the toughest to fill due to the shortage of skilled candidates. Most companies want candidates who have at least a master’s degree, IBM found. Clearly, the answer to the question “Is a master’s in data analytics worth it?” is an enthusiastic yes.

Learn How to Uncover Insights with a Master’s in Data Analytics

At Maryville University, the data analytics program can help prepare graduates for careers as a data scientist, research analyst, management consultant, and a variety of other positions. Enroll in Maryville University’s online master’s in data analytics program and learn how to uncover data insights that will impact business.


McKinsey & Company

IBM, What is Big Data? More Than Volume, Velocity and Variety

MIT Sloan Management Review

McKinsey & Company, How Companies Are Using Big Data and Analytics

IBM, The Quant Crunch

Glassdoor, 50 Best Jobs in America

CrowdFlower, 2016 Data Science Report

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