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The Top 10 Highest-Paying Big Data Careers

Industry Advice Analytics Computing and IT

Big data’s role in the global economy is transforming businesses and driving growth.

By 2020, experts predict that there will be more than 2.7 million big data and analytics jobs open to qualified individuals—that’s 400,000 more positions than there are today. This urgent need for skilled professionals is the primary reason that big data careers pay big money: These qualified professionals with specific skill sets and experience aren’t easy to find.

Salaries for big data careers are increasing just as quickly as the demand for skilled professionals. Many of these jobs report compensation well into the six-figure range and above market pay in order to compete in the talent war, according to research from IT jobs site Robert Half Technology (RHT).

A majority of these jobs require candidates with both experience and advanced degrees. In a fast-growing field, that’s not easy to find. Eighty-one percent of all analytics job postings seek workers with at least three years of prior work experience, and many of these roles—the highest-paying ones, in particular—require a master’s degree.

But which big data careers pay the highest? Here’s a look at the most coveted positions and what you need to know in order to nab them.

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10) Data Analyst

Annual Salary Range: $77,500-$118,750
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year: 3.8 percent

Data analysts work with large volumes of data, turning them into insights businesses can leverage to make better decisions. They work across a variety of industries—from healthcare and finance to retail and technology.

Data analysts work to improve their own systems to make relaying future insights easier. The goal is to develop methods to analyze large data sets that can be easily reproduced and scaled, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

9) Database Administrator

Annual Salary Range: $98,500-$148,500
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year3.6 percent

These professionals are responsible for monitoring and optimizing database performance to avoid damaging effects caused by constant access and high traffic, according to PayScale. They also coordinate with IT security professionals to ensure data security. Database administrators typically have prior experience working on database administration teams.

8) Database Developer

Annual Salary Range: $108,000-$161,500
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year:  5.1 percent—one of the top-three highest increases

Database developers are responsible for analyzing current database processes in order to modernize, streamline, or eliminate inefficient coding, according to PayScale. These professionals are skilled in monitoring, troubleshooting, and debugging databases to solve performance issues.

Database developers work closely with other members of the development team. They’re often required to have prior experience with database development, data analysis, and unit testing.

7) Data Modeler

Annual Salary Range: $111,000-$161,500
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year: 3.9 percent

These professionals turn large volumes of data into insights, such as micro and macro trends, which are gathered into reports for businesses. Data modelers must be skilled in both information science and statistical analysis, and should have proficient programming skills.

Many data modelers specialize in a specific business area, which makes it easier to find useful data trends for their employers, PayScale says.

6) Data Scientist

Annual Salary Range: $116,000-$163,500
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year: 
6.4 percent—the highest increase of all data science jobs

Data scientists design and construct new processes for modeling, data mining, and production, according to PayScale. In addition to conducting data studies and product experiments, these professionals are tasked with developing prototypes, algorithms, predictive models, and custom analysis.

Previous work experience in a similar position is usually required, PayScale says, and data scientists should be skilled in different data mining techniques, such as clustering, regression analysis, and decision trees.

5) Business Intelligence Analyst

Annual Salary Range: $118,000-$171,500
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year:
4.3 percent

Business intelligence analysts turn companies’ data into information that executives can use to make better business decisions, according to RHT. These professionals often respond to management’s requests for specific information, but might also be expected to scrutinize data independently to find patterns and trends.

Business intelligence analysts should have a strong background in analytical and reporting tools, several years of experience with database queries and stored procedure writing, as well as OLAP and data cube technology skills.

4) Database Manager

Annual Salary Range: $122,250-$177,000
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year:
3.7 percent

Database managers diagnose and repair problems that occur in databases, as well as assist with the design and physical implementation of storage hardware and maintenance, according to PayScale.

These professionals work closely with database developers and often provide guidance and training to lower-level staff.

3) Data Warehouse Manager

Annual Salary Range: $129,000-$179,000
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year:
4.1 percent

Data warehouse managers are responsible for the storage and analysis of data in facilities. These professionals use performance and usage metrics to evaluate data, analyze data load, and monitor job usage. They may be responsible for identifying and mitigating potential risks to data storage and transfer, according to PayScale.

2) Data Architect

Annual Salary Range: $131,250-$184,000
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year: 
4.1 percent

These professionals are tasked with the design, structure, and maintenance of data, typically organized in a relational database, according to PayScale. Data architects develop strategies for each subject area of the enterprise data model and communicate plans, status, and issues to their company’s executives.

1) Big Data Engineer

Annual Salary Range: $135,000-$196,000
Increase in Salary Over the Last Year: 
5.8 percent—the second-highest salary increase

Big data engineers are similar to data analysts in that they turn large volumes of data into insights that organizations can use to make smarter business decisions, but they’re also tasked with retrieving, interpreting, analyzing, and reporting on a business’s data—which they typically have to gather from a variety of different sources—according to RHT.

These professionals are also responsible for the company’s software and hardware architecture, and the systems and processes users need to work with that data.

Big data is a fast-growing field with exciting opportunities for professionals in all industries and across the globe.

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