Big Data Employment Boom

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted September 5, 2013

We’ve been hearing things go BOOM a lot around here lately. Just take a look at our oil industry. And right now, we’re embarking on a different kind of boom – one that has us thinking outside the box.

big dataAll hail big data! And the jobs that go along with it. Large sets of data have become so big and complex that they are hard to process, making it even harder to find the right people to analyze them. A big data employee has to be able to extract the data, refine it, and then use it in a valuable format. That’s where you find your success.

If you have a child going off to college, consider that big data is becoming a hot commodity, even in academia.

Jobs for managing and interpreting big data are among the hottest areas for hiring in 2013. The thing is, recent graduates aren’t coming out of school with statistics and math degrees, and as a result, companies are left scrambling to fill big data positions.

Of the positions that are being filled, almost half are by employees with green cards or visas.

In the past five years, there has been a tremendous convergence of data analysis and computer science, pushing big data into a driving force not only for business, but for the economy as a whole – and not just here in America, but on a global scale.

And with a sluggish U.S. economy, big data is here to save the day. Still, the pool of talent is seriously lacking relative to the number of jobs available. Consider how many businesses are run totally through electronics. Payment methods, online transactions, sensors, social media – all these mediums produce data every single minute of every single day. It’s impossible to keep up with it all.

In the IT field alone, 4.4 million jobs will be needed by 2015, as Fortune reports. By 2018, the U.S. will face a shortfall of qualified, deep analytical thinkers with advanced training in statistics and other disciplines that are able to help a company decipher big data. That void could reach 150,000 or more, and that’s just in the States.

Outside the Box

Today, according to Newsfactor, 9 out of 10 big data professionals have a master’s degree or higher in a quantitative discipline such as statistics, applied mathematics, operations research, or economics.

But these days are numbered. As the need to fill big data positions grows exponentially, it will be paramount that companies start looking to non-data disciplines to fill the void – areas like social sciences, humanities, and music. Yes, music!

Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) has had great success bringing aboard both physicists and music majors to its data science teams. These are creative thinkers that bring a different set of skills to the table, but they can still solve big data problems in a different way. While they may not possess the computer science background, the unique skills they do have lend a fresh and more abstract perspective to data collection.

In the future, companies are going to require both the knowhow and the creativity to bring the greatest possible advantages and success to a business.

A music major may seem like an odd choice for an analysis position, but if you think about composition, the intricacies in music, and the mathematics behind how different instruments are used, it starts to make sense.

As new business is tailored to these kinds of changes, some existing jobs, too, will surely change, and a new class of positions will be found. You will start to see a lot more “chief data officer” positions in different sectors, and the scope will no longer include the traditional deep analytical-types.

Big data will naturally become a part of non-data professionals’ education and experience – product development, medical research, risk management, marketing – it’ll be everywhere and limitless.

And advances in software will make this all possible. Right now, big data is a tremendous technological hurdle, but things will get easier in time. The average desktop computer is 75 percent more productive today than it was in the year 2000.

As the number of vacant positions rises, companies will turn to outside recruiters to seek out candidates and will inevitably be looking for people with less experience. They’re going to have to. We’re all trainable, right?

What’s Out There

Booz Allen and Enova, a unit of Texas-based Cash America International Inc. (NYSE: CSH), know that the future of business lies in the hands of big data, and they’re on the ground running, making the necessary changes to drive success.

And they’re paying for it, too. A median base salary for a non-management worker is $90,000, according to Newsfactor. Junior level professionals can start out at $80,000, while senior technicians can earn as much as $140,000 in a year.

And where there’s growth, there’s money to be made in the sector. Investors should watch out for companies like these in the emerging big data industry. All kinds of startups are already creeping onto the scene: MapR, ParStream, ScaleArc, and Cloudant should all be on your radar, as they are are poised to meet big data needs in the coming years.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), for example, is expanding its initiative in the academic world, where it is adding nine new educational collaborations to its more than 1,000 partnerships and universities around the world, according to InformationWeek. Georgetown will be among the universities where IBM will launch new curricula pertaining to big data and analytics.

Keep an eye on these companies, as this is the up-and-coming sector in the tech industry. Companies are offering the big bucks for these positions, which means growth is going to be huge.



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