by Rachel Vilsack

“Big data” refers to data sets so large and complex that traditional database management tools cannot adequately capture, store, or analyze them. While often quantified in exabytes – or one quintillion (a 1 followed by 18 zeros) – big data can also include other media, like videos, pictures, or words.  According to experts, big data will mean big business and require workers who can think big.

dataA recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at the industry and career paths for people interested in big data. Here are some examples of how different industries use big data:

  • Finance – Big data analysts study credit card transitions for fraud and security threats. They monitor the financial markets’ impact on investment portfolios.
  • Health Care – There are new possibilities with patient medical data, thanks to electronic health records. There is also work involved in organizing video feeds from remote patient monitoring or telemedicine.
  • Telecommunication – Big data analysis may adjust customers’ services and preferences based on smart phone and GSP user locations.
  • E-commerce – Big data workers may use predictive modeling of customer interests based on product reviews and website comments.

Many types of professionals work with big data, from computer programmers who help understand how the data can be collected, to the statisticians who make sense of the data, to the information systems managers who oversee the projects. In Minnesota, the demand for database administrators and statisticians will be well above average, with employment growth rates of 20 percent or more between 2010 and 2020.

Workers in these jobs will need to be committed to education and training. Most analysts working with big data will need advanced degrees, with specialties in math or computer science. Working with big data will also require good communication and teamwork skills. The ability to learn new things is important, as technology continues to change the uses and possibilities of big data. Several schools around Minnesota offer degree programs in database management,  statistics, and management information systems.

Big data might just give you the opportunity to think big on your next job.