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The Top 10 Highest-Paying Big Data Careers

Industry Advice Analytics Computing and IT

Big data is transforming businesses and driving growth throughout the global economy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates data-related occupations will grow by 12 percent by 2028, creating over 546,200 new jobs in the same time period. Increasingly, top companies are in need of qualified professionals to fill those emerging roles. However, professionals with these specialized skills are difficult to find, which means data jobs pay quite well for those with the right expertise.

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 data science and 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 relevant 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 land them.


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Top 10 Big Data Careers

1) Big Data Engineer

Annual Salary Range: $130,000-$222,000

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.

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

2) Data Architect

Annual Salary Range: $119,750-$193,500

These professionals are tasked with designing the structure of complex data frameworks, as well as building and maintaining these databases. Data architects develop strategies for each subject area of the enterprise data model and communicate plans, status, and issues to their company’s executives.

3) Data Warehouse Manager

Annual Salary Range: $80,000-$160,250

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.

4) Database Manager

Annual Salary Range: $111,250-$186,500

Database managers identify problems that occur in databases, take corrective action to remedy those issues, and assist with the design and physical implementation of storage hardware and maintenance.

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

5) Business Intelligence Analyst

Annual Salary Range: $87,500-$185,500

Business intelligence analysts turn companies’ data into insights that executives can use to make better business decisions. 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 online analytical processing (OLAP) and data cube technology skills.

6) Data Scientist

Annual Salary Range: $105,750-$180,250

Data scientists design and construct new processes for modeling, data mining, and production. 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,  and data scientists should be skilled in different data mining techniques, such as clustering, regression analysis, and decision trees.

7) Data Modeler

Annual Salary Range: $80,750-$170,000

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.

Data modelers often choose to specialize in a particular business area, which makes it easier to find useful data trends for their employers.

8) Database Developer

Annual Salary Range: $101,250-$172,750

Database developers are responsible for analyzing current database processes in order to modernize, streamline, or eliminate inefficient coding. These professionals are often charged with monitoring database performance, developing new databases, and troubleshooting issues as they arise.

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.

9) Database Administrator

Annual Salary Range: $79,250-$160,500

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

10) Data Analyst

Annual Salary Range: $83,750-$142,500

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.

Breaking Into Big Data

Big data is a fast-growing field with exciting opportunities for professionals in all industries and across the globe. With the demand for skilled big data professionals continuing to rise, now is a great time to enter the job market. 

If you think that a career in big data is right for you, there are a number of steps you can take to prepare and position yourself to land one of the sought-after titles above. Perhaps most importantly, you should consider the skills and experience you’ll need to impress future employers. 

The highly technical nature of skills needed for big data careers often requires advanced training and hands-on learning experience. Seeking a graduate education in your area of study can be one of the best ways to develop this expertise and demonstrate your knowledge to future employers. Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Analytics program, for example, is designed to equip students with a strong analytical and technical skill set, as well as allow them to build relationships with industry leaders and peers in the field. 

Download the free guide below to learn how you can break into the fast-paced and exciting field of analytics.

Download Our Free Guide to Breaking Into Analytics

Editor’s note: This post was originally written in July 2017 and has since been updated for accuracy.