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Exploring Diverse Data Analysis Career Paths Across US Industries

Data analysis was once considered a niche skill. That is no longer the case, as big data now drives decisions and change in almost every imaginable industry. Leaders in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, marketing, and so many other fields lean heavily on the insights provided by data analysis.

But this endless variety of options can result in decision fatigue. We’ve made things easy by explaining the broad categories of data analysis career paths below. First, let’s consider how you can take the initial steps to starting a data analysis career.

Getting Started with Data Analysis

Do you enjoy using technology and crunching numbers? A career in data analysis might be the right choice for you.

If you’re a youth determining the right courses to pursue at university, you’ve come to the right place. You can also build a data analyst resume with no experience if you plan to pivot from another career path—for example, from another role in one of the industries below to data analysis in that industry.

First, develop a solid foundation in mathematics. Algebra, probability, and calculus are essential. You should also be comfortable with—and hopefully enthusiastic about—using computers and embracing new technologies.

If you’re entering data analysis directly, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, or data science. If you’re pivoting mid-career, any four-year degree that equips you for that field can be useful. You may be able to gain valuable experience by taking on data analysis tasks while working in your current role. Your existing knowledge of the industry, including its terminology, processes, and trends you’ve already observed, can be a boon to your success as a data analyst in that industry.

Diverse Industries that Need Data Analysts

The landscape of data analysis careers is vast. Here’s a roadmap to help you visit the biggest landmarks—industries with a great deal of data analyst career growth.

Healthcare

Modern data analytics was born in the healthcare industry. The first known statistical data analysis project commenced in 1663 when the clothing seller John Graunt of London began recording mortality information in hopes of detecting plague epidemics. Today, analysts crunch patient data to improve diagnostic methods, predict risks to a population’s health, and optimize treatments. Analysts can specialize in clinical research, population health management, or medical claims analysis.

Finance

Financial trends are readily observable, from inflation to stock market crashes. Data analysts seek to understand patterns in the data and predict possible outcomes. They help companies to develop trading strategies, decide which clients to lend or extend credit to, and make investment decisions. Areas of specialization include algorithmic trading, fraud detection, and credit risk analysis.

Manufacturing

Analysts crunch numbers to assist with supply chain optimization, reduce production costs, enhance the quality of manufactured products, prevent downtime, and increase plant safety. They help predict when critical equipment may need to be replaced or serviced to avoid unplanned production outages.

Marketing

Marketing data analysts take a deep dive into customer behavior, collecting data from online shopping trends, social media interactions, and the like. They measure and optimize campaign performance. They also watch for industry and consumer trends. They may specialize in social media analytics, customer segmentation, or marketing analytics.

Retail

In the retail environment, analysts collect data in order to understand customer preferences—everything from styles and colors of items to the arrangement and temperature of the brick-and-mortar store. They also seek to predict demand for items and optimize product placement. Data analysts can specialize in supply chain analytics, inventory management, or retail analytics.

Technology

Technology is a rich field for data analysts because nearly every piece of tech used by consumers helps to collect data on them. Analysts are tasked with studying user behavior, improving the performance of technology products, and identifying potential security threats. They can specialize in cybersecurity, app analytics, or web analytics.

Government and Politics

Polls are an easy segue into the data analysis that takes place in the political arena. But the need for analysts doesn’t end there. Government and political organizations hire analysts for economic forecasting, crime analysis, public health analysis, program effectiveness assessments, fraud identification, to inform policy decisions, and more.

Non-Profit Organizations

Like for-profit businesses, non-profits can use data analysis to help their bottom line. They can measure the organization’s impact, identify areas of need, or optimize fundraising and informational campaigns. Analysts can specialize in grant writing, program evaluation, or social impact analysis.

Key Takeaways

Data analysis is an exciting field to enter, both because of the high demand for skilled professionals and for the vast array of environments the work takes place in. Its beauty is in its versatility and constant utility. Whether you’re just entering the workforce or pivoting into a data analysis role, a fulfilling career that aligns well with your passions and skills awaits you.

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