Thanks to a new emphasis on digitalization, many industries around the world are starting to depend significantly on large datasets to help them form business strategies. When traditional methods aren’t enough to analyze this data, big data techniques are employed. This has led to a rise in the demand for big data analysts.
If a career filled with problem-solving and numbers sounds interesting to you, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to get a job in big data. It will include details about the best education routes, job descriptions, salaries, and what tech skills are most in-demand by employers.
What Is Big Data?
As the name implies, big data is a field of study that deals with the systematic extraction and analysis of large volumes of data that cannot be analyzed using conventional data-processing software.
As a big data specialist, your primary duty will be to make large volumes of raw and unstructured data informative using expert analytical techniques. The refined data and insights can then be used to make informed business decisions.
Big Data Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 13 percent increase in computer and information technology occupations is expected between 2020 and 2030. Note that the BLS classifies big data specialists in the same category as computer information research scientists.
What Education Do I Need to Become a Big Data Expert?
You’ll need a master’s degree in data science, computer science, information technology, or related fields. This makes sense since big data is an advanced field that requires a lot of technical skills. However, some employers may be willing to give you a short internship if you have an undergraduate degree and some experience.
Can I Get a Big Data Job Without a Degree?
While employers prefer prospective candidates with an undergraduate degree, or even a graduate degree, it’s possible to get a big data job without one if you can prove that you have strong skills and work experience. This is achievable by joining bootcamps and obtaining professional certifications.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get a Job in Big Data?
Yes, it’s possible to get a job in big data after graduating from a data science bootcamp. These bootcamps are fast-paced education institutions that have gained significant traction in the tech industry. Most run for a few months although some could last for up to two years.
In a bootcamp, you will learn how to use Python and other programming languages used in data science as well as machine learning, data visualization, analytics, data modeling, deep learning, and data mining. You could also develop soft skills such as business acumen, communication skills.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in Big Data?
You can qualify for a job as a big data engineer in anywhere between three months and four years depending on the path you take. It might even take as long as six years or more if you opt for a master’s degree. One of the fastest and most affordable routes is enrolling in a bootcamp, though many employers will prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree.
Another option to become a big data specialist, although less popular, is self-study. This route will enable you to learn at your own pace using online resources. Details about the various paths to acquire an education in big data are listed below.
Common Big Data Education Paths
There are many available learning paths if you want to pursue a career in the world of data. The one you choose will depend on the time and resources you want to devote to your education, as well as your long-term career goals. .
Data Science Bootcamps
A data science bootcamp offers job-specific training and guides students throughout their learning process, and often offers career services upon graduation. It usually costs between $15,000 and $20,000 for the entire program and classes are often open to everyone irrespective of educational background.
Bootcamps specialize in teaching the most in-demand skills, and are a great way of developing a strong handle of data analysis in a short period of time. Some of the best big data bootcamps are offered by Thinkful, Data Science Dojo, Flatiron School, General Assembly, and BrainStation.
If you want an associate degree, you can obtain one from a community college. Typically, the credit requirement for associate degrees in data science and related fields is around 60. These programs can be completed in two years in-person or online.
After you earn your associate degree, you can transfer your credits towards a bachelor’s degree program. This is a great way of saving money on your education, as community colleges are more affordable than most four-year colleges.
A bachelor’s degree is the most common option for recent high school graduates. Programs run for about four years but there might be accelerated courses available depending on your school. If you earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field, you can pursue an advanced degree.
Note that the degree path is the most expensive route to prepare for a career in big data. However, if you obtain a degree from a good university, you’re more likely to get a higher-paying job compared to someone who doesn’t have one.
Key Big Data Skills to List on Your Resume
Writing the perfect resume isn’t just about listing your work history. For a career in big data, there are specific skills you should master and add to your resume if you want to excel in the field. Some of these skills are data mining, programming, and data visualization.
This is one of the most important skills for big data experts as it is used to predict outcomes. Organizations can then use this information to create strategies to optimize gains. Data mining involves combing through data to find correlations or patterns within the datasets. Popular data mining tools include Knime, Apache Mahout, Rapid Miner, Oracle Data Mining, Orange, SAS, and Tableau.
While big data isn’t software engineering, you still need to know some programming languages to thrive in the field. Some relevant languages include Python, SQL, Hadoop, Scala, C, R, and Java. Having a good grasp of these languages will help you excel as a big data analyst, and will open up job opportunities if you later wish to switch careers within the tech industry.
After you have mined the data, you will need to summarize it and present it in a clear and concise manner that can be understood by everyone. Experts often use pie charts, bar charts, histogram plots, correlation matrices, and box and whisker plots to demonstrate the results of their data visualization.
Where to Find Big Data Jobs
There are several job boards where you can find information about remote and in-person big data job openings. Some of the most common online resources are LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
Since 2003, LinkedIn has been one of the best online resources for professionals to build their network. It’s a great place to scout for a job as hundreds of employers of small, medium, or large enterprises advertise vacancies daily. In addition, you can promote your skills in tech to increase your chances of being noticed by prospective employers.
This online job board was made to be comprehensive and straightforward to use, and advertises current vacancies in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science. You can find a wide range of jobs, including permanent positions and contract roles.
Glassdoor was founded in 2007 as a place for current and former employees to share their experiences with a company. It is an amazing resource for job seekers who want to find out more about a company before applying for a job. It also features job listings that are frequently updated.
How to Prepare for Your Big Data Interview
Once you are shortlisted for a big data job, your interview is your best opportunity to make a good impression on your potential employer. Make sure you read up about the company to understand their mission and the specific job requirements, then make sure to mention why your abilities would make you a good fit.
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Big Data Interview Questions
- What are the Vs of big data and how do they affect your job as a data expert?
- What is Hadoop and what does the JPS command stand for in Hadoop?
- How do you think big data can help this business?
- What are the required steps for deploying a big data solution?
The Five Highest-Paying Big Data Jobs
|Big Data Jobs||Average Salary||Projected Growth|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$151,150||11 percent|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$126,830||22 percent|
|Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers||$110,140||22 percent|
|Information Security Analysts||$103,590||33 percent|
|Database Administrators and Architects||$98,860||Eight percent|
Computer and Information Systems Managers
These managers are leaders within organizations who supervise, coordinate and ensure the successful completion of computer-related assignments. For this job role, you will need at least a master’s degree to represent your analytics skills.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
As a computer and information research scientist, your primary duties would include coming up with new and improved ways to use technology to help companies grow. The academic requirement for this role is a master’s degree.
Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers
With programming knowledge, a big data engineer could easily fit into this role. As an analyst or a tester, you are required to look out for issues in software applications then report them. In order to do this job, you need to have a bachelor’s degree.
Information Security Analysts
IT security analysts, or system analysts, are in charge of ensuring that the entire information system in an organization is secure. For this, analysts would be involved in installing security software, testing existing software, and monitoring IT systems. You should have a bachelor’s degree to be hired for this job.
These experts use specialized database management systems to collect, store, secure, and ensure the adequate flow of data within an organization. It’s one of the most important data-related occupations and highly sought-after in the current tech world. A bachelor’s degree is the gold standard for this role.
Big Data Career Path
Like with all other occupations, the big data career path is divided into different levels based on education and experience. Below we will describe some examples of entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level career paths.
Entry-Level Big Data Jobs
- Data Entry – This job does not require a degree. As the title implies, it involves inputting data into computer systems on behalf of an organization.
- Entry-Level Data Analyst – Most big data professionals start as data analysts. They study and analyze data to derive actionable insights that drive business decisions.
- Entry-Level Data Scientist – These experts try to find patterns and connections between large datasets. They are data wranglers who deal with structured and unstructured data.
Mid-Level Big Data Jobs
- Data Developer – A data developer is a data expert who creates tools to ensure that an organization’s database management system is capable of handling the data.
- Data Engineer – Quite similar to data developers, data engineers primarily work to prepare large volumes of data for analytical and operational use within an industry.
- Backend Python Engineer – With advanced knowledge of Python, you can work on designing and developing server-side features for web applications.
Senior-Level Big Data Jobs
- Cloud Data Engineer – These experts are responsible for managing databases that are cloud-based. They mostly work with corporate companies.
- Database Manager – As a database manager, you will be responsible for monitoring database management systems and ensuring that these systems are functioning as they should.
- Senior Data Engineer – These professionals design codes and data processing frameworks, as well as maintain data pipelines to ensure that everything functions smoothly. They also supervise and train junior data engineers.
Big Data Certificates
Whether you choose to attend a traditional university, a community college, or join a bootcamp, you’ll benefit significantly from getting professional certification. These certificates are awarded by third-party organizations and display your abilities in the field. The certifications detailed below are the most relevant for big data occupations.
Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
This certification is for all data professionals, not just big data engineers, and scores your ability to process, model, visualize, analyze and deploy data. There are two options available for preparation. You can either take advantage of the free online resources, or pay for instructor-led classes. The exam itself costs about $165.
IBM Certified Data Engineer – Big Data
This program was primarily designed for IBM big data engineers, but any big data professional can take the exam as long as they have deep knowledge of the subject. This is an advanced certification so it isn’t intended for mid-level or entry-level data management professionals.
Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS)
This is one of the most comprehensive data certifications in the industry. It is a peer-reviewed certification that proves that data experts have what it takes to complete their roles and responsibilities within an organization. There are three different levels of the certification and it was created for data scientists.
Tips on How to Get a Job in Big Data
Once you have finished your education and built up your analytical skills, you will be ready to start applying for big data careers. The following tips are important to keep in mind if you want to increase your chances of getting a high-paying job.
Build a Data Portfolio
Employers love a candidate with impressive experience, but not everyone can boast having credentials from a high profile company. To overcome this challenge, you can complete data projects on your own and add them to your portfolio. The more impressive your portfolio, the more likely you will be hired.
Make Sure Your Resume is Accurate
Even a small misinformation can affect your chances of securing a job even if you possess the required skills and expertise. Therefore, you must ensure that your details are on point and don’t lie about your qualifications, skills or experience.
Build a Professional Online Presence
In this digital age, an online presence can make or break your professional career. Hiring managers may perform online background checks to verify your information or to learn more about you. Make sure that you have a professional LinkedIn profile and that negative comments about you are deleted from social media.
Be Clear About Your Preferred Role
There are different big data occupations across companies, so defining your preferred role will help to streamline your search and build the right skills. However, it is also a good idea to have a few backup options in case you fail to secure your first choice.
Use Customized Resumes
If you’re applying for jobs in different companies at the same time, make sure you customize your resume to suit the job specifications that have been advertised and the objectives of the company. Do not send a generic resume to every prospective employer as it would show that you lack interest in being hired.
Should You Get a Job in Big Data in 2021?
Yes, now is the perfect time to get a job in big data if you enjoy logical thinking and helping businesses succeed. As long as the world continues to rely on data, there will always be a demand for data experts. With a strong job outlook predicted for this field, you won’t have to worry about not finding a job.
Because of the high demand for data professionals, the job has significant earning potential. The pay for all data-related fields is typically above average in the US. It is also easy to make a transition in your career if you know big data as well and have amassed good experience and knowledge.
Big Data FAQ
Yes, it’s possible to get a big data job without a degree. However, you may have to start with an entry-level role and work your way up with time. The best route to take if you don’t have a degree is attending a data science or big data bootcamp.
Yes, big data careers are often more challenging than other tech fields because of the technical requirements and large area of study. Although it is difficult, it is not impossible to penetrate this sector. If you remain persistent and dedicated, there are many job opportunities available.
Microsoft Azure, R-Programming, Zoho Analytics, Apache Spark, MongoDB, RapidMiner, Google Analytics, and Xplenty are some of the best tools used in big data. Learning as much as you can about these tools will help you gain a deep knowledge in this profession.
Companies use big data to improve customer experience levels and increase their bottom line. The data collected from users is used to streamline their experience, provide recommendations, promotions, and ensure their loyalty.
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