Key Skills – Big Data, big salaries

Leah Matkin, head of analytics & insight at Eurostaff Technology, outlines this month’s hot 'IT skill'.


What is the skill? Big Data expertise: As businesses wake up to the value in analysing data, they are realising the need to hire data analysts, business intelligence specialists, business analysts, insight analysts and consultants – all with a strategic outlook. We’ve seen a sharp increase in clients looking for these types of experts, and the market for data analytic professionals is currently candidate driven - that is to say that there are multiple opportunities for candidates to choose from, so companies must offer attractive packages in order to remain competitive.

In the past seven years we’ve seen the data analyst market change dramatically and Gartner now predicts that there will be 4.4 million IT jobs globally to support Big Data by 2015. With such good job prospects, we’ve also seen a rise in candidates favouring contract roles due to the abundance of opportunities out there.

Where did it come from and what is it for? The internet, Internet of Things and machine to machine intelligence are driving vast volumes of data, which when mined can provide valuable business insights. Companies across all industries can gain valuable insights when mining Big Data, for example banks can analyse data to score customers accurately on their credit rating, retailers can improve the way they target customers by looking at spending patterns and governments can discover better ways of delivering public services. The list is endless.

What is unique about it? We’ve seen an increase in companies requesting Big Data skills, but specifically those with SAS experience. This is because of the analytical tool’s functionality and flexibility. For example, it offers the ability to gain commercial insights and build strategy focused models by looking at customers, markets, risks and more, and can be used by a range of specialists across many different industries.

How do I acquire the skill and is it difficult to master? For those with a computer science background looking to up-skill quickly, the first step is to take a SAS training course, some of which just take a few days.  Or, you could take a slight salary drop and skill-up while on the job, which could mean that despite the immediate salary decrease, your pay could accelerate quickly as your career progresses.

For graduate starters, our clients typically look for those with economics, statistics or business degrees. This is because companies are not just looking for technical experts, but employees that are strategic business thinkers and good communicators too, as they will be required to use the data to unlock, and communicate, valuable trends and insights that will impact the company’s bottom line.

Pay and prospects? Graduates entering the Big Data industry can expect to be paid approximately £27k. An analyst with four years’ experience is likely to command £40k - £48k and senior consultants will earn around £120k. As mentioned earlier, consultancy is a popular option and freelancers can potentially earn £500 per day.

What’s next/where does it lead? As the Big Data market continues to grow, and more people understand the potential for data analysis, experience in this area will continue to be business critical. Data analysts have always been in demand, but with data production predicted by CSC to be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009 and companies’ requirements to stay one step ahead of the competition, will mean the insight and strategic developments from this sector will prove even more valuable.

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