Data analytics has become an irreplaceable tool for countless organizations around the world, opening up a variety of career opportunities for those with data science experience, strong analytical skills and a knack for problem-solving. Companies are collecting more data every day to help increase profitability and secure a competitive advantage in their marketplaces.
However, to make full use of this information, organizations must integrate cutting-edge data analytics tools into their workflows. When leveraged effectively, big data analytics can support evidence-based business decisions and forecast future trends, providing key decision-makers with the context they need to adapt to shifting market conditions.
For aspiring students and mid-career professionals alike, earning an online Master of Science in Business Analytics can provide the general and specialized knowledge to excel in these types of roles. Nearly every industry relies on business analytics professionals at some level, and demand for these skills is only growing as more companies seek to harness the full potential of their data. But what can you do with a master’s in business analytics, exactly — and how can an online MSBA prepare you for a successful career?
What Is Business Analytics?
Business analytics is a collective term for using quantitative methods such as data analysis and statistical modeling to optimize business decision-making. Business analytics involves several elements, such as goal setting, data collection and storage, and data visualization. By employing a variety of analytical tools and techniques, organizations can derive insights that inform business strategy. Business analytics can shed light on an organization’s current status, forecast future outcomes based on trend data and help guide decision-making based on past performance.
Why Earn Your Master’s in Business Analytics?
For those who enjoy identifying patterns in seemingly random bits of data, earning a master’s in business analytics may represent a wise career choice. Across industries, companies are collecting more and more data, and professionals who can help them use that information to improve their corporate strategies are in high demand.
An MSBA can open the door to a range of career options. While entry-level business analytics positions typically require a bachelor’s degree, employers often favor applicants with a master’s degree for senior and managerial roles.
An advanced degree in this field also correlates with higher earnings. The median annual salary for graduates with an MSBA degree was around $75,000 as of June 2022, according to the compensation source Payscale. In contrast, those with a bachelor’s in business analysis earned a median annual salary of approximately $64,000.
Skills Required for a Master’s in Business Analytics
An MSBA program can help students develop technical expertise and strengthen skills that are crucial for success in this field, such as:
- Problem-solving: The art of business analytics lies in asking the right questions, using data to answer those questions, and then identifying how to apply those answers to improve the business.
- Data visualization: Business analytics professionals use data visualization software to distill information into an easily understandable format.
- Communication: A key element of business analysis is explaining insights to decision-makers. Translating complex data into clear, actionable strategies helps executives steer their organizations.
- Statistics: Data analysis relies on statistical manipulation. Business analytics students learn SQL (the coding language of databases) and statistical software such as SAS, SPSS and Mathematica.
Master’s in Business Analytics Requirements
Applicants for MSBA programs must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some schools may also have minimum GPA requirements. The University of Nevada, Reno, requires a minimum 2.75 GPA in the last two years of undergraduate study for admission to the MSBA program.
Those with bachelor’s degrees in a field other than business analytics may also have to fulfill course prerequisites in statistics and information systems. Some institutions, including the University of Nevada, Reno, also require students to pass a self-paced MSBA skills bootcamp after being admitted to the program.
Career Paths in Business Analytics
The business world is currently undergoing a major transformation. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are helping organizations convert raw data into actionable business insights, leading to more profitable outcomes. While these innovations have had a notable impact on data analytics jobs, companies still rely on talented data scientists and business analysts to make sense of the information they collect. To capitalize on these employment opportunities, it’s important to understand what you can do with a master’s in business analytics in different settings.
Business analytics jobs typically fall into two broad categories: analytics-enabled roles and data science roles. Although both subfields directly analyze data, the qualifications and core skill sets are a bit different, as are the associated job titles.
Analytics-enabled roles typically require a balance of data science experience and business expertise, which is why a master’s degree in business analytics can be such a valuable stepping-stone. Pursuing an MSBA can help students as well as established professionals understand how data is used to answer specific business questions, drive profitability and forecast future revenue-generating opportunities. Analytics-enabled jobs may also call for hands-on experience with reporting and visualization software. Examples of such roles include the following.
Marketing specialists gather and analyze data to help companies effectively advertise their products or services. By parsing information on customer demographics, preferences and buying habits, marketing specialists tailor advertising campaigns to specific audiences. Professionals in this role are also responsible for determining where their companies sit within the broader marketplace, which involves conducting detailed competitor analysis, market research and price comparisons.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which categorizes marketing specialists with market research analysts, projects job growth of 22% between 2020 and 2030. This is substantially faster than the 8% growth the BLS projects for the labor market as a whole. The BLS reports the role’s median annual wage was $63,920 in May 2021, while the highest 10% earned more than $128,320.
Health Services Manager
Health services managers are responsible for improving the quality and efficiency of health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and outpatient clinics. Alongside managing the finances of these facilities, health service managers must also set departmental goals and create work schedules that align with patients’ needs and their own budgetary constraints. Using their knowledge of business analytics, these professionals help ensure the health care system is financially sound and their facilities have the resources to produce positive health outcomes.
Demand for health services managers is expected to increase 32% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS. The 2021 median annual wage for this role was $101,340. The top-earning health services managers made more than $205,620.
Like health service managers, management analysts seek to improve the efficiency of their organizations through data analytics and evidence-based recommendations. They collaborate with department heads and supervisors to reduce overhead costs, increase revenue and achieve higher levels of productivity. In most cases, management analysts gather and research information that directly applies to a specific business problem. For example, they may recommend new computing systems that provide more flexibility for end users, reducing the impact of unplanned downtime and IT issues.
According to BLS data, employment of management analysts is forecast to grow 14% between 2020 and 2030. The 2021 median annual wage for this role was $93,000. The highest 10% of earners made more than $163,760.
Data Science Jobs
While similar in some respects to analytics-enabled jobs, data science roles typically call for strong programming skills and other IT-focused competencies, such as knowledge of machine learning, AI and blockchain technologies. These roles are yet another example of what you can do with a master’s in business analytics, as an MSBA program can help aspiring professionals understand how these innovations are applied in real-world scenarios, along with the underlying data science principles they’re built upon.
Since these types of jobs often involve complex data analysis, visualization and enablement, most employers will prioritize professional experience and work history during their hiring processes. Following are some examples of data science jobs in business analytics.
Data Mining Specialist
Data mining specialists use statistical software and data analytics platforms to generate actionable business insights from vast stores of raw information. Using a variety of data visualization techniques, these professionals translate their research into easy-to-understand resources, including graphs, charts and heat maps. Data mining specialists are valuable to every department, especially when predictive modeling is used to forecast future revenue streams, cash flows and market conditions. By looking at transactional data, non-operational information and metadata, these professionals can formulate evidence-based recommendations aimed at efficiency, profitability and long-term success.
According to data gathered by Payscale, data mining specialists made a median salary of approximately $65,000 as of September 2021.
Data architects play a key role in business analytics by helping organizations create data management practices that align with their long-term goals. They design and build fully integrated and secure databases, ensuring data scientists and business analysts have access to the information they need for their research. This role requires extensive programming experience, data warehousing expertise and strong problem-solving skills, as data architects are responsible for creating streamlined database architectures and applications that support real-time business intelligence.
The 2021 median annual salary for data architects was $98,860, according to the BLS, though professionals in the top 10% of earners made more than $155,660. The BLS reports that employment of data administrators and architects is expected to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030.
Expand Your Business Analytics Career with an Online MSBA
UNR’s online Master of Science in Business Analytics program is designed to help students tap into the power of big data, machine learning and business intelligence. This practical MSBA degree program offers a focused curriculum that balances data science principles with business insights, ensuring you have the knowledge and experience to take on a variety of data analytics roles.
With courses in Applied Data Science, Predictive Modeling and Data Mining, and Business Analysis Methods, you’ll assemble tech-focused skills sought by countless employers around the world and discover all you can do with a master’s in business analytics.