2021 Job Outlook for Data Analytics Careers

Published 09/10/2021

Data analysts are responsible for using data to solve problems and influence decision-making for companies. With technology rapidly evolving, the data analytics industry is growing.

Let’s dive into the projected data analytics job outlook, as well as how current and aspiring professionals in the field can grow their data analytics career in 2021.

Employment Outlook for Data Analytics Professionals

The demand for data analysts and other professionals in the data science industry is expected to keep growing in 2021 and beyond.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of data scientist and mathematical science occupations will grow 31% through most of this decade, making it number 11 on their list of the 20 fastest-growing occupations.
  • A report by the World Economic Forum listed data analyst as one of the top positions that companies will be hiring for in this decade.
  • In January 2021, LinkedIn named data science specialists as 1 of 15 in-demand positions.
  • According to the BLS, employment of operations research analysts—a position closely related to data analytics—is expected to grow 25% through most of this decade, which is much faster than average.

What Types of Jobs Are Available in Data Analytics?

There are several directions you can take your career if you’re interested in data analytics. With this being a relatively new field, job titles are emerging in real time. O*NET Online gives some examples of job titles in data analytics:

  • Data analyst
  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Competitive intelligence analyst
  • Market intelligence consultant
  • Strategic business and technology intelligence consultant

The industries that employ data analysts are also widespread. The BLS reports that the finance and insurance industry is the largest employer of analysts, accounting for about 28% of operations research analyst jobs in 2019. However, there are also significant levels of employment in other sectors, such as management, manufacturing, scientific or technical services, and the federal government.

>> Learn More: What Can You Do with a Master’s in Business Analytics?

Why Are Data Analytics Careers Growing?

Advancement of technology in recent decades has resulted in companies having greater access to data than ever before. The volume and complexity of data that companies can gather is growing due to increased mobile traffic, cloud-computing traffic, and the development of Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technologies. Data is constantly being collected, and businesses are looking for professionals who can analyze and make sense of it.

The BLS explains that analysts can help businesses “turn data into valuable information that managers can use in order to make better decisions in all aspects of their business.” As analytics software becomes more advanced, there will be even more opportunities for businesses to use data to inform their operations and improve their bottom line.

COVID-19’s Effect on the Data Analytics Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the career outlook for many different industries, both short-term and long-term. The data analytics industry was not exempt from disruption, with new job postings trending downwards during the first several months of the pandemic. However, experts believe that demand for data analysts will bounce back.

Jeffrey D. Camm, Senior Associate Dean of Business Analytics programs and Executive Director of the Center for Analytics Impact at the Wake Forest University School of Business, coauthored an article for MIT Sloan discussing the pandemic’s impact on data analytics. The article goes into detail on factors that influence whether a company will continue to invest in analytics and data science during an economic recession, including:

  • Proven return on investment
  • Leadership support for a data-driven culture
  • Analytics maturity
  • Organizational structure of the analytics group

While the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the employment landscape remain to be seen, evidence suggests that data analytics jobs may be more protected from recessions than other industries. During times of economic uncertainty, companies will be looking to cut costs and may rely on data analytics to streamline their processes.

Regarding the decline in job openings, Camm et al. write, “Although new job postings in data science and analytics have declined overall, they currently appear to be declining at a slower rate than that of most other occupations. And within the finance and insurance industry, new job postings in the analytics and data science space have actually increased.”

This is good news for current and aspiring data analytics professionals, as it suggests that demand for data analytics remains relatively high even in times of crisis.

How to Succeed as a Data Analyst in 2021

If you are looking to start a career in data analytics—or want to grow within your existing data analytics career—it’s important to become familiar with the skills and education commonly required in this field.

Recommended Skills for Data Analytics Jobs

Data analytics jobs usually call for a blend of technical and soft skills. While specific skill requirements may vary from job to job, data analysts should have an understanding of the following:

  • Statistical programming languages
  • Spreadsheet tools
  • Data visualization
  • Statistics
  • Machine learning
  • Systems analysis and evaluation
  • Business and management principles

In addition, a recent survey of corporate recruiters stressed that in a post-pandemic world, certain skills will become more in-demand than others. Among the highest-ranked skills for the next five years were managing strategy and innovation, managing tools and technology, and demonstrating interpersonal skills. These types of adaptive skills are important for data analysts to keep in mind for 2021 and beyond.

Continuing Education for Data Analysts

According to the BLS, while there are some entry-level data analytics jobs available for those who have a bachelor’s degree, many employers may prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree. Depending on the specifications of the role, a master’s degree in a variety of technical fields may be appropriate for a job in data analytics.

An advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) can prepare students for data analytics careers by equipping them with strong quantitative skills and a knowledge of probability, statistical modeling, and analytics software. Since the data science field is constantly changing in response to new developments in technology and software, continuing education can be a great way for current and aspiring data analysts to keep up-to-date on industry best practices.

Start Your Career in Data Analytics

The Wake Forest online master’s in business analytics program is designed for students who want to grow their knowledge of quantitative analysis and take the next step toward a career in data analytics. This online program will empower you with the knowledge and skills you need to excel as a data analytics professional in 2021. Reach out for more information about our online MSBA program.