Career Advice for Job Seekers

Do You Want “Mathemagical Superpowers?” Prepare for an Emerging Career in Data Analytics

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
March 18, 2013

Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones of Career Thought Leaders

The movie Moneyball showed Oakland Athletics’ use of performance data to recruit talented baseball players with good ROI. The new big thing is fanalytics, applied to a wide range of sports: basketball, hockey, motorsport, tennis, and more.

Bill Wilson (sports fan and recovering lawyer) wrote a blog about the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

Geeks Seek Reap From Tweeps in Seats (

Doug Henschen, executive editor of InformationWeek, wrote that analytics are used in decision-making from “ticket and merchandise sales to labor agreements to player contracts, to TV and digital media deals.”

Computer modeling enabled meteorologists to give a heads-up warning to government agencies about Hurricane Sandy. The presidential and Senate race outcomes were accurately predicted by statistician Nate Silver and neuroscientist Sam Wang, respectively.

Healthcare providers seek data scientists at all levels to lower costs, improve patient care, provide pricing transparency, and enhance treatment decisions consistent with best practices.

“Data is the new oil.”

As early as 2006, marketer Michael Palmer wrote, “Data is just like crude. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used… so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”

A data scientist, according to Fortune magazine writer Michal Lev-Ram, is “a new kind of highly skilled, nerdy-cool job.” It has been described as a combination of statistician, forensic scientist, hacker, engineer, and investigative journalist. According to an Amazon job description, a data scientist will “target the right product to the right customer at the right moment.”

Where are the Jobs?

College graduates with a data analytics background may find opportunities such as:

  • web analytics implementation engineer or marketing analyst (PayPal)
  • search marketing strategist (StubHub, an eBay fanalytics firm)

Management training programs are offered by PayPal in software engineering (data management) and marketing (data analytics).

Some job titles at the master’s degree level include statistical scientist-predictive modeling (Experian); customer intelligence manager, data scientist (Salesforce); senior research scientist (Nielsen). Higher level positions include data mining scientist for a Ph.D. in Data Mining, Machine Learning, Statistics, Operations Research or related field (Apple), and data scientist/statistician for a Ph.D. in Statistics (Deloitte). A later blog will focus on graduate degree programs, as some begin in 2013.

Other employers with current data analytics positions include Google, Microsoft, Allstate, BestBuy, Quicken Loans, and Bloomberg (

Hot Skills

Some of the skills used in data analytics include:

  • data warehousing
  • data mining, data quality assurance
  • sentiment analysis, behavior analysis
  • social media monitoring
  • business intelligence
  • predictive analytics
  • visualization, graph analysis

Quirky names of related tools include Pig, Python, Hive, and Hadoop. Others are NoSQL, MapReduce, R, SPSS, SAS, InfoSphere, Vertica, Informatica, Teradata, and Cognos.

Are You a Good Match?

PayPal seeks new college graduates with “Intellectual curiosity, passion for problem-solving, and comfort with ambiguity.” Other important qualities or skills include:

  • strong mathematics aptitude
  • solid computing background
  • domain knowledge (e.g. business, science, economics) for practical application of statistics
  • communication skills
  • collaborative and teamwork skills

 Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Data analytics degree programs tend to be offered in schools or departments such as business administration or computer science/information technology.


Common titles include business data analyst, market research analyst, business intelligence analyst and statistical analyst.

Ferris State University –Big Rapids, MI

  • B.S. – Business Data Analytics

Old Dominion University-Norfolk, VA

  • B.S. in Business Administration – Business Analytics Major

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

  • B.S. in Business Administration Business Analytics Major


Entry level titles include data cleaner, business and systems analyst, business systems consultant, database architect, statistical analyst and predictive modeler.

Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo, CO; Sioux Falls, SD; Online

  • B.S. in Information Technology (Specialization: Data Management)

DePaul University –Chicago, IL

  • B.S. in Scientific Data Analysis and Visualization

This interdisciplinary program (science, mathematics, computer science) prepares graduates to support scientists in “medical imaging, epidemiology, the Human Genome Project, satellite and astronomical image processing, digital terrain models, and the three-dimensional imaging of molecules. “

Arizona State University

  • B.S. Computer Information Systems (Business Intelligence, Data Management)

For more information, read blogs by Big Data Evangelist James Kobielus ( One of my favorites is “Data Scientist: Myths and Mathemagical Superpowers.”

I look forward to your comments.

By: Sharon Jones

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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