Big data has become a massive buzzword on the business front. The idea is that companies have large amounts of information that if properly analyzed and tapped, could lead to more effective strategies and tactics that could propel a company’s competitive standing. That’s important for IT professionals to know. But what even a person with a master of computer science in information systems degree may not have made clear is the difficulty in finding and hiring the people who can make sense out of the massive data dumps. The executive editor of InformationWeek has some insights for data experts.
One big reason to pay attention is the jump your career could take with an expertise in analyzing data. According to the InformationWeek 2013 U.S. IT Salary Survey, the median staff salary for someone in business intelligence (BI) or analytics was $90,000 last year. Median salary for a manager in the same field is $119,000. In data integration and data warehousing, median staff salary was $104,000. The median for managers was $118,000. These categories stand out from most of the rest of IT. Although data scientists were not covered, Ph.D. analytic experts have been commanding low six-figure salaries and typically pay more than managers. Unfortunately, women tend to make significantly less than their male counterparts. If you’re female and going for such a position, sharpen your negotiating skills, remember that there’s a good chance you’ll be offered less than men would, and check industry resources like the InformationWeek surveys to get comparative numbers.
Location, location, location
Where you work has a big influence on what you make, typically because companies keep an eye on local cost of living figures. For example, a job in Oklahoma City is unlikely to command the same amount as a similar position in New York City. Top locations for pay are the Pacific, Northeast, and South Atlantic regions. Next come Midwest, South Central, and Mountain. The difference between the top and bottom runs $20,000. Then again, it makes sense to do your homework. Depending on the difference in living costs, you might find that a position that pays less might still leave you more in your pocket.
Movers and shakers make more
Straight administration and operations are fine, but employers shell out more for those who are inventive and wring insights out of data. It makes sense, as the biggest value comes from doing something with the data, not just managing it. To increase your market value, amp up your analytic skills.
Show up with your peers
Many employers look far beyond the resume slush pile when it comes to hiring. They want to get a jump on the competition and find great candidates. That often means visiting schools and attending conferences and events. Make sure you’re there as well (also a chance to advance your knowledge and skills) and key eyes and ears open for networking events held by companies. In addition, IT specialists should consider expanding their own repertoire into getting insights out of data. An MBA program with a strong data analytic component, such as is available at American Sentinel University, can offer the specialized knowledge that can help someone move from mastering data formats to becoming a master of what data can reveal.