The Value of a Data  Analytics Degree in a Data-Driven Workforce

From career insights to salary expectations, here is what you can do with a data analytics degree.

February 13, 2024 | By GTPE Communications
Data analyst viewing a business analytics report on their laptop.

Big data drives our world. We marvel at the cutting-edge technology that helps us gather and analyze this data, but humans are still a critical part of the equation. If anything, the recent advancements in data science have made the need for human insights abundantly clear. Without trained professionals to determine which data sets are necessary and how they translate to business decision-making, we could easily get lost in a sea of data in which quantity does not equate to quality. 

Enter data analytics. This powerful practice allows us to make sense of unthinkable volumes of data. According to Gartner, this can "equip businesses, their employees, and leaders to make better decisions and improve decision outcomes." 

Organizations depend on highly skilled data analysts to draw on ever-increasing volumes of data to extract actionable insights. Nearly all industries have data analyst career options and positions boast a strong salary. The most compelling hires are equipped with targeted degrees that encompass both analytics tools and techniques but also the soft skills needed to make the most of this technical acumen. 


How a Data Analytics Degree Translates to the Job Market 

For many of today's most desirable data analytics positions, a master's degree represents the minimum barrier to entry. This degree signals to employers that job candidates have received thorough training, encompassing not only advanced technical skills but also practical applications such as case studies or even practicum experiences. 

A data analytics degree is more than a simple credential, though. It is also worth pursuing because it provides a strong preparation for the challenges of modern data analytics. Graduates emerge with a thorough understanding of complex data concepts and techniques, plus their theoretical underpinnings. 

Foundational knowledge is essential, in part, because it makes it easier for data analytics professionals to adapt to the quickly changing data landscape. This adaptability is further enhanced through soft skill development—with creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.


Job Growth and Salary Expectations for Data Analysts 

Overall, it's clear that the future is bright for highly trained analysts. Across many specialties, the outlook consistently exceeds 10 percent, and salaries often approach or exceed six figures. 

Survey results from O'Reilly Media are even more promising: Respondents from the data and AI space earned, on average, $146,000 per year. In the three years before this survey, these respondents enjoyed changes in compensation exceeding $9,000, with a noteworthy subset reporting individual increases of more than $25,000.  


The Role of a Data Analyst in Various Industries 

Big data has an outsized impact on decision-making across every industry imaginable. From healthcare to information technology and even real estate and hospitality, data analysts allow organizations of all kinds to deal more effectively with increasingly vast volumes of data.

  • Renewable energy  Predicting supply and demand has long been a central challenge in the rapidly evolving world of renewable energy. Still, big data promises to ease these difficulties by providing a wealth of historical data that can be more effectively analyzed. This allows businesses to adjust their production as needed and can even pave the way for automated systems that adjust in real time to fluctuations in demand. 
  • Agriculture – Details on rainfall, soil quality, and supply chain concerns can drive more effective decision-making throughout the agricultural sector. Many agricultural operations now rely on integrated sensors, which, through consistent monitoring, provide helpful insights into maintenance needs and equipment availability. 
  • Nonprofits – Forced to do more with less, the nonprofit sector has increasingly turned to big data to reveal how these resources can be more effectively allocated to maximize their impact. From hotline data to philanthropy records, a variety of information sources offer insight into everything from fundraising strategies to regional and global issues that call for nonprofit support. 


Is a Data Analytics Degree Worth It? 

Although there is no simple answer to this question, many data analytics graduates would argue that obtaining an analytics degree has proven more than worthwhile. Johnnie Cairns an alumni of Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Analytics program, who graduated in 2023, found the information taught in the program to be exactly what he needed to make sense of the data-filled world around him.

“I came into the program with a realization that data and information are abundant in the current world and felt I did not have the knowledge to effectively use or make decisions with this information. The program equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively make use of the overwhelming amount of information available in today's world.” 

A high-quality Data Analytics degree program should be rigorous and not everyone is going to find the coursework compelling enough to justify the hours of intense study. That said, the right student with the right goals can uncover many benefits, including many applicable elective courses and opportunities to apply new concepts. 

As you seek a degree in data analytics, look to Georgia Tech for a fully online option that leverages three of our esteemed colleges (College of Computing, College of Engineering, and Scheller College of Business). The Online Master of Science in Analytics provides powerful preparation for today's most exciting and impactful data analytics roles. Contact us today to learn more about our data analytics program and the many opportunities it could unlock.