With the World Economic Forum trumpeting the job of data analyst as one of the most important and fastest-growing occupations in the world, it’s not hard to understand why so many people are interested in earning an advanced degree in the field of data analytics.
Regardless of the job title they pursue, whether that’s literally “data analyst” or something related like operations research analyst, data scientist or information systems manager, for the right person, earning a master’s degree in data analytics could be just the start of a long, bright (and lucrative) career path.
Let’s explore typical salaries, job growth projections and common coursework required to earn a master’s in data analytics and launch a long and fruitful career.
Data Analytics Education
Every program is different, and your mileage may vary, but generally a graduate program in data analytics is likely to have several foundational courses as well as some that will depend on the particular institution and any focus areas the learner wants to pursue. Here’s a look at what you can likely expect in a data analytics education:
- Data Mining and Analytics
- SQL for Data Analytics
- Applied Statistics
- Large-Scale Database and Warehouse
- Data-Driven Decision Making
- Analytics Programming in Python
- Data Visualization
- Regression Methods
- Predictive Analytics
- Enterprise Performance Management
- Applied Machine Learning
- Optimization Methods
- Model Analysis
- Forecasting and Time Series
Master’s in Data Analytics Salary
In general, people with advanced degrees can almost always expect to earn more than their less-educated counterparts. For example, the average person with a master’s degree earns about $1,400 per week, compared to a person with a bachelor’s degree, who earns just under $1,200 per week. Over the course of a full-time working year, that equates to more than $10,000 in income.
For individuals with a master’s in data analytics, that difference may be even more stark, given the high demand for very qualified people to fill data-heavy roles. Particularly for operations research analysts, who often must have a diverse skill set that applies to many different departments, the potential for high wages is great.
The federal government’s official home for data related to jobs and employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, does not list data analyst as a job separate from statistician, mathematician or other analyst roles, such as financial or budget analyst. However, the job of operations research analyst has a great deal of overlap with typical data analyst educational programs, and according to the BLS, those workers earn more than double what the average worker earns.
Median salary: $86,700
Online job board indeed listed nearly 250 operations research analyst job openings in late February 2020, and the most common type of employer actively looking to hire included military agencies and government bodies.
Average salary: $85,200
Compiled from just over 1,000 salary reports, Glassdoor’s salary range for operations research analyst runs from about $50,000 on the low end to a high of about $100,000, and those with graduate degrees are more likely to find openings on the higher end of the wage scale.
Average salary: $69,816
Salary aggregator Payscale reports a range for operations research analysts of about $50,000 per year to nearly $120,000 for the highest-paid individuals with the job title, while those who specialize in a particular area may be able to write their own ticket if they find the ideal employer.
Average salary: $77,697
Staffing and job search site Ziprecruiter listed thousands of operations research analyst jobs in February 2020, with openings across the country. Many jobs were centered around national security and military cities, such as San Antonio and the D.C. area.
Average salary: $97,500
Job Demand for Master’s in Data Analytics
All jobs related to data science are expected to expand over the next several years, and the growth rate for operations research analysts is more than five times higher than the projected expansion of all jobs across the entire economy (+26% vs. +5%).
Only one state (Alaska) is not expected to see statistically significant growth in these jobs, and only one other (Maryland) will see jobs grow by a single-digit rate. Of states where growth is projected, the average increase is about 31%.
Operations research analyst job opening growth, 2016-2026
|Tennessee||45.6%||District of Columbia||22.3%|
The four states with the highest growth rates are West of the Mississippi, and the South, Midwest and West all are represented among the top 10.
Professionals with training in data analytics will be highly sought-after for jobs in every conceivable industry, with government, private industry, the military and many more all needing to employ people who can help them understand data and craft strategies for using all that information wisely.
While these jobs will range from entry-level to senior, people who can set themselves apart by earning a master’s degree in data analytics will have a major advantage in the workplace. The rigors of graduate education in the field helps signify a degree of seriousness and dedication that few other tools can show.
- Salary and job opening data from Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale and Ziprecruiter was accessed in February 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Operations Research Analysts. (2020.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm#tab-6
- PWC, What’s next for the data science and analytics job market? (Undated.) Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/data-science-and-analytics.html
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Career Outlook, Measuring the value of education. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
- ProjectionsCentral.com, Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2016-2026. (Undated.) Retrieved from https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm