Want to Boost Your Pay? Learn Data Analytics

ESA Data

Data analytics: It’s not just for data scientists anymore.

According to a new report (PDF) from the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), more than half of the American workforce (that’s 74.3 million people) works with data in some way. Some 10.3 million of those workers rely on “fairly sophisticated” software to perform data analytics.

The ESA defines a “data job” as one in which an employee:

  • Analyzes data or information
  • Processes information via coding or categorizing
  • Interacts with computers

“We classify data occupations as those for which the average importance score for the three selected work activities is 80 or above” on a scale of 1-100, according to the report. Jobs that meet such criteria include financial analysts, statisticians, environmental engineers, budget analysts, Web developers, police dispatchers, and many, many more.

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Over the past decade, the report added, data jobs have grown four times faster than the baseline for the private sector. Those jobs are lucrative, paying $40 dollars an hour on average (some 68 percent more than the average private-sector job). But that sort of payoff also demands an education: two-thirds of workers in the “top data occupations” have at least a bachelor’s degree. Washington, D.C., Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut boast the highest concentrations of data-focused jobs.

The report offers up a whole plethora of stats on data workers, making one thing very clear: Whatever your job, it’s likely that analytics will play a growing role in it.

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Image: ESA

7 Responses to “Want to Boost Your Pay? Learn Data Analytics”

  1. Joseph I. Szweda

    PURE PROPOGANDA. I’ve seen this story before worded differently a few years ago. I’ve seen some of what’s in here worded in other ways before 2008. My experience has been that this is pure bunk.

    Now, let me also say this. I guess nobody heard about the guy who had his doctorates, wrote technical papers using a lot of serious statistics. He got laid off. From 120K per annum, guess what he found? NOTHING.

    I researched that a bit-and that’s why I told a shrink who suggested I get into that as I’d be good at it that the reality is that its not feasible at all.

    To give an example, I did something in part as an experiment. To try and get a job as a technical writer, I posted a PDF. I used Bayesian statistics to illustrate a particular trend that’s held true with cyber security. Formally worded, formulae and all…does anyone understand it? Nope. It doesn’t involve a buzz word-the end.

    I remember recently someone looking for an analyst-and they basically wanted someone who could write, do charts, data mine and identify trends. When I sent a paper illustrating every last one of those things, that was no good.

    If you want to identify a trend beyond casual observation, to do it professionally, you have to do some form of a regression analysis-be it linear, Poisson, etc. From there, once you have a trend line, you can then define things more specifically and a lot more intelligently. Who asks for that? Nobody. Who understands it? Nobody.

    Do I know something about these things? Let me put it this way. I learned how to do some of those things in high school on my own. Uncle Sam spotted it. I was recognized the same by them as I think what I did at the time in part with statistics required export controls. I had no idea till years later after the fact.

    As for web development fitting the definition in the article, it can. I think outside of silicone valley, forget it. It doesn’t seem to fit outside of a place like that for the most part. What web development has evolved to from what I’ve seen, it’s make this pretty and half ass this with a novel of a list of things and have it done by lunch time. That’s what I’ve been seeing.

    Realistically, outside of one or two contracts that show in a great blue moon, I know of one or two places that uses statistics in the way the article implies. The VA is one of those places. That’s about it.

  2. I respectfully disagree with Joseph. There is a huge need for data analysis and it will only become more intense. The difficulties that Mr. Szweda describes appear to be in trying to demonstrate analytical skills to a hiring manager or recruiter rather than to those who might actually comprehend the benefit. There’s no easy solution to this, as hiring reps are the gatekeepers in the traditional hiring process. The trick is to find a way around the hiring reps — primarily through networking — to reach the individuals who understand the practical value of your skills and likely have a direct say in the hiring. If you don’t do this, then the job will go not to the best candidate, but to the best applicant who had the temerity to find a way around these gatekeepers.

    As for the example provided of a PhD who was let go and struggled with finding a job, I suspect that that might be the result of appearing over-qualified, which is a real concern in the working world. Employers may see highly educated individuals as being inappropriate for their positions or as being too costly. However, other than statisticians, the jobs referenced in this article do not typically require doctorates, but rather are mid-level professions requiring a bachelors or masters degree at most.

  3. Joseph,

    While that was probably true 5 years ago, I don’t think that’s true today, not while big data and data science are very popular skills in IT. It’s true a lot of companies don’t really understand these things, but they do see that there’s a lot of value in data analysis and analytics. Why? Because they see companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook making a lot of money from doing good, solid data analysis and predictive analytics. The industry has changed vastly in the last 5 years. I hope that trend continues.

    Simon

    • Joseph I. Szweda

      When I first read an article like this 2 years ago or so, I did some research. Why? I do like certain aspects of math, and I have a computer background. So, if I could get some background in statistics formally-that would be great. Here is what the article doesn’t tell you.

      As for Facebook, here is what they are looking for. They want a back end guru, a psychologist, and statistician in one. If you don’t have those three things-forget it. I’ve seen one or two things pop up for something like someone doing stats for QA reasons with mechanical engineering. Then of course, finance analysts have had a use for these things for years now, and then there are federal government gigs. What’s there aside from that? Not a lot.

      Now, I did research schools for statistics programs. The few that offer anything are incredibly expensive. They are reputable-granted. They are not cheap,

      Now, do you want to do an online program or not? Some schools offer one, others don’t. Some programs will say unless you’re enrolled in a graduate program or hold a graduate degree, they won’t allow you to take their stats program for a certificate in these things. That narrows the field for some in cases.

      Now, there is at least one place that says their program says you have to be enrolled in either finance, biology, or something else because the courses they teach are geared towards those fields. That makes sense pending the field. As for something more broad spectrum, not every place offers that.

      Now, as for online, that can work pending on two factors. First of all, some people learn better that way than others. Secondly, some places might teach things in a more encyclopedic way versus something that is more intuitive. Pending on where a given person lies with that, that makes a big difference. I say that as when I’ve had encyclopedic types of instructors, it doesn’t work. If you know your stuff, eventually you can write things in that manner. That’s something that nobody tells you about on any online course.

      Now, if you can’t do the online thing for whatever reason, that leaves the on campus option. If you’re an adult, and you’re not near one of those places, you need to sustain yourself somehow or another. That seriously increases the cost of things-and may not be possible for some for a number of reasons.

      Now, once you factor all of that in, and you see what’s in the job world, there are some pricey schools, and I haven’t seen a great number of postings that allow for someone with an IT background and statistics solely in the private sector. That’s what my experience has been.

      Finally, if you don’t have the money to do something like that or the means to get the money to do something like that and make it work-forget it. In some cases, for what it costs, and what the job pays, after you adjust for cost of living, taxes, inflation, by the time you factor in your student loan payment, you’re breaking even at best as far as before vs. after pay. If your increase in pay gets eaten up by the student loan, a higher tax bracket, etc., what did you gain? You didn’t,

      That’s a BIG reason why I say that article and others like it are propaganda. I’ve looked into that whole thing some time ago. What’s changed? The price of things has gone up and the calendar has changed.

      • Mark Johnson

        Jo,

        You sound very bitter. It seems like you had a single bad experience and you are extrapolating from that. Do you have personal experiences of working at these companies or enrolling in these programs? One bad experience doesn’t mean that applies to the rest of us. It seems to me you are saying if you are not able to learn from being taught by someone, then you are screwed. Well DUH!

        Mark

        • Joseph I. Szweda

          That’s not what I said. Go back and re-read what I wrote. I didn’t say it didn’t work for anyone at all. What I am saying is that there are a number of caveats to these articles.

  4. Nightcrawler

    I am very interested in this field. I’ve got the hardcore maths required, and I’m very good at recognizing patterns and predicting what will happen next. I think I’d be good at this.

    How does one go about entering this field? Specifically, how does one go about getting a paid entry-level job that will lead to better opportunities? (My university told me to go be a receptionist, but I’m terrible on the phone, and I don’t see the path from minimum wage receptionist to data analyst!)