Q&A: What's needed to get a big data job?

Big data will change training in all corporate units, says Michael Rappa, who created the first U.S. post graduate program in data analytics

By , Computerworld |  Big Data, Analytics

Looking across the organization, some occupational roles will require additional computer and statistical programming skills, other roles will require new data management and data cleaning skills, and yet other roles will require skills in data visualization and interpretation.

Advanced degree programs are being created rapidly. What type of skills can someone gain from your program? What's unique about our Master of Science in Analytics is that we started from scratch to build a fully integrated learning experience from end-to-end, and we positioned employers as our customer.

Our goal was to directly address the employer need, in terms of the kind of talent they sought to hire. Technical skills are only one part of the package. Employers want people who understand the methods and applications of analytics, but also who are focused on the business problem (not the data alone), able to work in multi-functional teams, and who can effectively communicate insights to executives.

Our homegrown algorithm for creating an analytics professional -- both in terms of the content and structure of the program -- balances technical and tool skills with teamwork and communication skills. It's been a potent formula for us that yields phenomenal results in terms of student outcomes in just ten months.

What's the demand right now for graduates for your program? From my vantage point in analytics education, the "great recession" never happened.

Since founding the Institute in 2007, year after year demand for our graduates intensified. Students who graduated last May had an average of 16 initial job interviews, and over 80-percent had 2 or more job offers. Forty employers came to the Institute attempting to hire from a pool of 38 students. Three-quarters made an offer of employment, and half succeed in landing one or more graduates. However, the top six employers hired two-thirds of the class. That's why we've moved to double our enrollment this year. For the fifth consecutive year, over 90% of our students were employed by graduation. Average salaries continue to increase year after year.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't get a call or a message from an employer looking to hire a MSA graduate. Some of it has to do with our track record for producing analytics professionals that can hit the ground running, but there's no doubting that demand for talent is increasing with each year. Data is perhaps our most valuable renewable resource driving economic growth today.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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