5 Career Paths You Can Take With a Master’s in Business Analytics
The rapid pace at which technology has advanced over the last 25 years has generated more data than organizations know what to do with. That means they need people who can analyze and draw conclusions from such data to make informed business decisions— skills that can be learned with a master’s degree in business analytics.
“Demand for business analytics experts continues to rise,” says Jeffrey D. Camm, Senior Associate Dean of Business Analytics and executive director of the Center for Analytics Impact at Wake Forest University. “As companies continue to use data to improve efficiency and better serve their customers, demand for these roles should continue to grow.”
In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey of C-level business and technology executives found that 72% “have yet to forge a data culture” and that 52% “are not competing on data and analytics.”
Here is a list of potential paths for those who earn a master’s in business analytics.
1. Management Analyst
Management analysts, sometimes called management consultants, have a solid job outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of management analysts is projected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Management analysts work with organizations to find ways to improve efficiency, usually as consultants or on a contractual basis. To reach this goal, they typically find themselves:
- Analyzing financial and other data, including revenue, expenditure, and employment reports
- Conducting onsite observations and interviewing personnel to determine the methods, equipment, and people that will be needed
- Conferring with managers to ensure changes are working
- Developing solutions or alternative practices
- Gathering and organizing information about problems to be solved or procedures to be improved
- Making recommendations through presentations or written reports to management
- Recommending new systems, procedures, or organizational changes
Camm says the broad-ranging position covers more than just finance, marketing, or accounting.
“As a management analyst, you attack a lot of different types of problems,” Camm says. “You’ll bring data and analytics or quantitative methods to solve management problems. That could be anything from HR to operations to supply chain.”
2. Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts help companies understand what products customers want and will purchase, along with how to price them. BLS data says employment of market research analysts is projected to grow 18% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Market research analysts study market conditions to determine potential sales. They do this by:
- Analyzing data using statistical software
- Converting complex data and findings into understandable graphs, tables, and written reports
- Devising and evaluating methods for collecting data, such as opinion polls, questionnaires, and surveys
- Gathering data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions
- Measuring the effectiveness of marketing strategies and programs
- Monitoring and forecasting trends in marketing and sales
- Preparing reports and presenting results to clients and management
Camm says that market research analysis hasn’t been around very long, but that it’s growing in importance.
“Market research analytics focuses on marketing problems,” he says. “That can mean different things for different clients. For example, it could be doing marketing research that develops market segments in your customer base.”
Camm says segmenting markets of potential customers to better understand and appeal to them is a major focus of market research analysts.
3. Business Intelligence Analyst
Business intelligence analysts produce financial and market insights by working with data and generating reports periodically. According to O*NET, the outlook for these professionals is strong, with a projected growth of 8% or higher from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average.
These analysts work to identify patterns in data and trends in available information sources. They do this by:
- Analyzing competitive market strategies by analyzing related product, market, or share trends
- Collecting business intelligence data from field reports, industry reports, public information, or purchased sources
- Creating business intelligence systems or tools, including design of related databases, outputs, or spreadsheets
- Generating reports summarizing business, economic, or financial data
- Maintaining a library of model documents, templates, or other reusable knowledge assets
- Managing timely flow of business intelligence information to users
- Synthesizing current business intelligence or trend data to support recommendations for action
“Business intelligence analysts work a lot with reports, database queries, data visualization, and data dashboards,” Camm says.
4. Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts use advanced analytical and mathematical methods to solve complex problems for organizations and help them make better business decisions. According to the BLS, operations research analyst employment is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Camm says this position is focused on problem-solving and decision-making. Operations research analysts share their expertise by:
- Advising decision-makers on the courses of action to take in order to address a problem
- Collecting and organizing information from a variety of sources, such as computer databases, customer feedback, and sales histories
- Examining information to discern relevance to a problem and methods to analyze it
- Gathering input from workers involved in all aspects of a problem or from those with specialized knowledge
- Using predictive modeling, simulations, statistical analysis, or other methods to analyze information and develop practical business solutions
- Writing memos and reports to explain findings and recommendations for managers, executives, and other officials
“These analysts solve problems with data and computers,” Camm says. “They have more of a focus on decision issues. They do a lot of optimization and simulation decision analysis. You can essentially use those tools in finance, or marketing, or accounting.”
5. Data Analyst/Data Scientist
The growing use of data in business means a growing use of data analysts and data scientists to help companies make sense of it all.
Both professions work with data, but the next step is the difference between the two specialties. Data analysts examine large data sets to identify trends, develop charts, and create visual presentations for businesses. Data scientists design and construct new processes for data modeling and production using algorithms, custom analysis, predictive models, and prototypes.
According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2020 report, both data analysts and data scientists are expected to be in top demand across all industries. By 2025, nearly 90% of companies will have adopted big data and analytics technologies. Also, 96% of companies are definitely planning or likely to plan to hire new permanent staff with relevant skills to fill future big data analytics related roles, according to the World Economic Forum report.
According to O*NET, projected growth for data scientists from 2019 to 2029 is much faster than average at 8% or higher. Among the functions of a data scientist are:
- Analyzing or processing large sets of data using statistical software
- Applying sampling techniques to determine groups to be surveyed
- Comparing models using statistical performance metrics
- Designing opinion polls, surveys, or other instruments to collect data
- Identifying business problems or management objectives that can be addressed through data analysis
- Recommending data-driven solutions to key stakeholders
“Both of these positions are focused on solving problems with data,” Camm says. “With the complexity of that data, and various methods used to identify actionable insights, the need for data scientists and data analysts will only grow. Businesses need experts who can communicate the value proposition and explain results in a non-technical way, so that they can influence the decision-makers.”
Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Succeed in These Roles?
Increasingly, employers want data analysts and data sciences to have a master’s degree, according to the BLS. With a master’s degree in business analytics, you should be well-positioned to find a job in the business world.
A Master of Science in Business Analytics will help students:
- Build deep analytics expertise
- Enhance their problem-solving abilities
- Gain strategic leadership skills
- Learn how to communicate to decision-makers
“Analytics is almost completely dominated by those with master’s degrees,” Camm says. “A good position in analytics is going to require one.”
Learn About Wake Forest University’s Online MSBA Program
A master’s in business analytics online can be your entryway into major organizations. Companies are looking for professionals who can make data-driven decisions that improve efficiencies, inspire innovation, and influence teams and organizations. Wake Forest University’s online MSBA program can give you the analytical, management, and technological skills to become a leader in the field.