As a consultant, I often get questions from employees at where I consult on where I see the job market going and how it is shaping employment opportunities. I see a few different tiers or levels where jobs call for specialized skills and where there is some room for growth.
Data Analysts and Report Specialists
This is probably the most common job opportunity out there. In the finance world, and banking in particular, you soon realize that these organizations run on reports and forms. True, many of these reports are now web reports, but reports are reports. Data Analysts, in my opinion, are the driving force behind the success in market research, direct mail campaigns, etc… I’ve seen more data analysts move from intro and mid-level positions to management positions than from any other position. After a few years, a data analyst is so valuable because he/she knows where the data is sourced and often knows the business side better. They understand how the data moves, what it means, and the impacts it has to the business. They often understand it at a much more basic level and better than the management they report to.
Spreadsheet and OLAP Jocks
Typically low and mid level managers are the clients for these services. They typically understand plots, graphs and percentages. The data comes from just a few tables and understanding the importance of the sourcing of the data is often ignored. That is, until a problem arises.
Statisticians and High-End Modeling
I have mixed feelings about the importance of statisticians in the private sector, particularly in regards to what often passes off as Business Intelligence. I know so many companies who dread hiring a PhD statistician. Their fears, generally well founded, are that these hires will grow bored and not be able to focus on the problem at hand. My observations are that they will start looking for their next position within a few months of being hired. I know this is generalizing, but, I see this often in the private sector. As a matter of fact, this line of thought is so prevalent, there are articles warning on hiring PH.D’s when in the start-up mode. You may want to “Google” the terms “Eric Sink” and “Ph.D” for more detailed thoughts on this.
The other issue playing into the long term employment of Statisticians is how they can be most effectively used. I see a number of mid-sized companies that only use them as consultants. So, they bring them in, pay them to develop the model, and write code to execute the model. After that, programmers or Data Analysts engineer the code to run in a production environment. I see Statisticians taking on a mercenary role in the future.
Business Intelligence Administrators
This is a fairly recent phenomenon in the BI world. As these systems get more complex, specialized skills are being sought to help install, maintain, and trouble shoot, these systems. The BI Admin also instructs users on how to use these systems. Due to the complexity of some of these systems, the skill sets are pretty high for these jobs. The good news is that these jobs pay well, especially for consultants. Training is expensive but you really have no choice. For the most part, you cannot get OJT (On the Job Training) for installation.
I’ll reserve my rants for a future blog article on how these BI companies purposefully make installation so damn difficult by limiting their software to using only certain open-source software or choose to support platforms that are not the most popular platforms. Can you say, “Apache, Linux, and Websphere?”