Key Careers in Analytics: How to Become a Senior Data AnalystKey Careers in Analytics: How to Become a Senior Data AnalystKey Careers in Analytics: How to Become a Senior Data Analyst

Data is everywhere. No matter the task or job, data is crucial to business, industry, government, science, and beyond. But data can’t actually effect change by itself. There must be an expert to organize and interpret it. That’s where skilled data professionals such as data engineers, data scientists, and especially data analysts come in. Consider these examples:

  • A financial institution may use advanced data to identify fast-rising stocks split seconds before their competitors, giving them a major advantage in investment strategies.
  • A nonprofit can determine which fundraising efforts are most effective and focus its efforts on areas that maximize revenue over expenditures.
  • A major metropolitan zoo could use advanced video tracking and data technology to map out walking routes, busy hours, and viewing habits to design a new wing that will minimize traffic and help visitors see popular animals.

Data analysts’ knowledge and expertise helps corporations, government organizations, nonprofits, and other entities manage their data and understand what it’s telling them. The answer to how to become a senior data analyst can vary from person to person, but here you’ll find typical career paths, requirements, and salary ranges.

A senior data analyst reviews a company report with a colleague.

What Does a Senior Data Analyst Do?

In the hierarchy of data jobs, what data analysts do is take large data sets accumulated by data scientists and organized by data engineers, then parse out what the data is saying. Should a business expand or contract in a certain area? Where are users and clients coming from? What does this say about the future of the company?

A data analyst’s work product might take the form of written reports, graphics and visual aids, or a combination. Data analysts need to understand what data means in the context of their industry. They must read into the numbers and come to a conclusion to help business executives or their direct reports make crucial decisions.

Senior data analysts need to be more than just highly competent analysts. As senior members of their team they may also oversee junior analysts who are new to the workforce. Senior analysts must make sure their entire team is working up to company standards, staying on top of new certifications and trends, mastering evolving methods and procedures, and assuming managerial tasks to run their department.

Steps to Become a Senior Data Analyst

Becoming a senior data analyst isn’t as simple as earning a bachelor’s degree in data and performing in a job for a few years. It typically includes advanced education and an ever-deepening understanding of the data analytics field.


A degree such as Maryville University’s online Master’s in Data Science is an excellent choice to improve prospects for success in the field. The program builds on data, analytics, and programming knowledge accumulated during undergraduate study. Classes include big data analytics and deep learning, plus text mining, machine learning, and several programming courses. Graduates of both undergraduate and graduate data science degree programs may also obtain data analytics certifications, which demonstrate to employers professional competency in certain areas.

Real-World Experience

An advanced degree is one key step toward becoming a senior data analyst. In addition, you should have several years of work experience in data analytics, collaborating with a team as well as on different projects in different work environments to show your versatility. Candidates for senior data analyst roles can gain this experience before or after attaining a master’s degree.

Senior Data Analyst Salaries

According to PayScale, the median salary for senior data analysts as of September 2019 was $79,281. PayScale also reported that the top 10% of senior data analysts made more than $106,000.

Employment Outlook for Senior Data Analysts

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong job growth in many technology and data-related fields, including operations research analysts, which it believes will add 31,300 jobs to the market from 2016 to 2026. That’s a job growth rate of 27%, which is nearly four times the national average over that span. What senior data analysts do has wide application and is increasingly adopted in many fields. This may account for the profession’s robust projected job growth. Similarly, the BLS expects the market for computer and information research scientists to grow by 19%.

Learn More About Becoming a Senior Data Analyst

Data analysts who want to advance and boost their chances of landing a leadership position like senior data analyst would do well to continue their education. See how an online Maryville University’s online Master’s in Data Science can put you in position to take a big step forward.


Attunity, “A Day in the Life of a Data Analyst”

CIO, “7 data analytics certifications that will pay off”

Cleverism, “Senior Data Analyst”

Data Science Weekly, “The Difference Between Junior, Mid-Level, And Senior Data Scientist Jobs”

Forbes, “Top 7 Skills You Need to Have as a Data Analyst”

Investopedia, “Data Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications”

Maryville University, Master of Science in Data Science

PayScale, Average Senior Data Analyst SalaryU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Operations Research Analyst”

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