7 High-Paying Jobs for the Future of Big Data

Like it or not, big data is here to stay -- and jobs in these seven occupations with an average salary of almost $72,000 per year are set to add over a million jobs to the U.S. economy by 2020.

Defining big data
"Big data" is a buzz phrase thrown around often, and it really only entered into the conversations of the American public over the last few years. You can see that people searching the phrase on Google has skyrocketed since the beginning of 2012:


Source: Google.

In October 2012, the Harvard Business Reviewdeclared that big data was "The Management Revolution" and a Wall Street Journal report from October of this year noted that almost two thirds of companies have invested or plan to invest in big-data technology within the next year. Garnter projects big-data spending will more than double from $27 billion in 2012 to $55 billion in 2016.

Though defining big data can be a challenge, a recent Forbesarticle put it nicely when it noted:

Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.

We live in such a connected world with so much information produced that companies are often inundated with information. IBM reports that "90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone." Every interaction from a Facebook "like" to a Google search or click on a headline from Yahoo! lends to some small stored bit of information. But beyond what we do on the Internet, there is the data generated from traffic sensors, sales figures at small businesses, and the immense amount of data utilized in hospitals about patients to help patients.

But big data isn't simply the collection of information -- and the age-old question of "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is eerily similar to one that I'd like to pose to you: If information is collected and no one is there to analyze it, is it actually information?

The biggest challenge cited by the managers surveyed by The Wall Street Journal about big data was "determining how to get value from the data," and the only way to do that is through people, and workers in these seven career fields are the ones poised to benefit the most from this data renaissance.

Software Developers 

2010 Employment: 913,100

2020 Projected Job Growth: 30%

2010 Average Salary: $90,530

2020 Jobs Added: 270,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Certainly software developers -- those who create and write computer programs -- aren't exclusively involved in big data, but with each passing day, more people are needed to make the programs that can effectively and effortless collect, synthesize, and process all of the data created. For college graduates with degrees in fields like computer science, software engineering, mathematics, or some other related field, the future for developers was bright 10 years ago, and that remains true today.

Market Research Analysts 

2010 Employment: 282,700

2020 Projected Job Growth: 41%

2010 Average Salary: $60,570

2020 Jobs Added: 116,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Market research analysts are going to be the ones who work in almost every industry who view the massive amounts of data that is collected and then report on their findings. They are those ones who will help companies figure out what goods or services people want, who exactly will buy them, and also what price they should be sold for. Since they can work in a variety of fields, from consumer product companies, manufacturing firms, or even banks, there is a lot of demand for the people who can make decisions based on all the data that is collected. A career as a market research analyst is best prepared for with a degree in statistics or math, with coursework in communications or other social sciences.

Postsecondary Teachers 

2010 Employment: 1,756,000

2020 Projected Job Growth: 17%

2010 Average Salary: $62,050

2020 Jobs Added: 305,700

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although this is the largest and broadest field, postsecondary teachers (those who teach students beyond high school) will be in high demand as a result of big data. There will be more and more students who pursue careers in big data (through one of the other careers noted here), and as a result, there will be a need for people who are prepared, capable, and willing to teach them the required skills they need to succeed.

Database Administrators 

2010 Employment: 110,800

2020 Projected Job Growth: 31%

2010 Average Salary: $73,490

2020 Jobs Added: 33,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is absolutely important to have people analyzing the data -- but if they don't have secure and sound data to analyze, they'll make wrong decisions. Database administrators are the ones who use the software and tools created by the developers to store and organize the data that will be used by market research and other analysts. While a degree in any computer-related field can set someone on the path to becoming a database administrator, one in management information systems (MIS) is often the best fit.

Computer Systems Analysts 

2010 Employment: 544,400

2020 Projected Job Growth: 22%

2010 Average Salary: $77,740

2020 Jobs Added: 120,400

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Computer systems analysts are often the intermediaries between a corporation's IT department and its business departments. As big data progresses, computer systems analysts are an essential cog to help a business understand its current computer systems and make recommendations for expanded systems and processes to meet the ever-evolving world of big data. Since computer systems analysts deal almost equally with both technology and business-related tasks, a degree that provides equal weighting in both is incredibly beneficial, and often management information systems (MIS) can provide that.

Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects 

2010 Employment: 302,300

2020 Projected Job Growth: 22%

2010 Average Salary: $75,660

2020 Jobs Added: 65,700

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Seemingly the catch-all bucket utilized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people in this category of career are utilized in a variety of different ways. Information security analysts ensure data is safe and secure, web developers create websites that attempt to capture the best practices wielded from big data, and network architects ensure that data and information flows seamlessly. Like the others, degrees in computer science, programming, or another related field is immensely beneficial.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators 

2010 Employment: 347,200

2020 Projected Job Growth: 28%

2010 Average Salary: $69,160

2020 Jobs Added: 96,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Lastly, there are those who help ensure that a company's computer networks run and operate smoothly on a day-to-day basis. With the vast amount of information collected, both internal and external computer networks will be under increased demand and strain, and there will be a high demand for the people who can ensure things continue without a hitch. Often a degree in computer or information sciences is a key point of entry, but a degree in an engineering field (whether it be computer or electrical) can also be immensely helpful.

Beyond big data
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