Learn Big Data: Importance, Skills, and Training Paths

Big data is a growing field that requires skills in computing, programming, networking, database management, statistics, pattern analysis, and business.

Big data is a growing field that requires skills in computing, programming, networking, database management, statistics, pattern analysis, and business. Companies in just about all industries have invested in big data projects across a range of areas, from personalized marketing to road mapping for self-driving vehicles to wearable health device monitoring. Programs that provide opportunities to learn big data skills and related tech concepts offer a big upside to those seeking a solid career in technology.

What Is Big Data?

Big data is the process of dealing with the information that flows into databases in ever-increasing amounts. Data comes from all connected platforms and devices: social media, sensors and devices connected to the Internet of Things, questionnaires and surveys, mobile phone apps, newspaper articles, and many other sources. It’s stored in databases of various sizes and complexity, depending on how much data is collected. These databases are set up to receive high volumes of data and to allow extraction for analysis.

Figuring out what all that data means is perhaps the trickiest part of big data. Cast a net too wide, and too much data may be irrelevant. Cast the net more narrowly, and crucial sets of data could be missing. Data scientists work with database administrators to cast the net just right.

Finding this balance can help companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits to thrive. For example, data analysis can help manufacturers to increase efficiency and reduce errors, marketers to identify narrow bands of customers to receive fine-tuned messages, and finance departments to root out wasteful spending and deploy investments to earn greater returns.

The V’s of Big Data

The three V’s help define the answer to “What is big data?”:

  • Volume — the amount of data available, which increases each year
  • Velocity — the speed at which data becomes available, which is getting faster
  • Variety — the forms in which data is presented

Structured data comes in well-ordered, delineated formats such as spreadsheets, which can be readily analyzed. Unstructured data, in which data is embedded in articles, written reports, and social media posts, is harder to deal with.

Big data professionals juggle the three V’s throughout the process of collecting and analyzing data. What’s more, another three V’s have emerged: veracity (data quality), value (business use cases), and variability (data flow variations).

Why Learn Big Data?

It doesn’t take sophisticated analysis to figure out that big data offers many opportunities and rewards. Data analysis is growing as a core competency in business as companies seek that competitive edge.

As such, professionals who have learned big data skills aren’t limited as to where they work. It’s one of those areas of technology that can play a part in just about any business and industry, offering ample opportunity for professionals with the right tech skills to prepare for a big-data related career.

Variety in Big Data Jobs

Businesses in a variety of industries can use big data concepts:

  • Health insurance companies identify risk pools among customers to help set coverage and rates.
  • Researchers compile data on diseases to discover effective treatments, as well as track outbreaks throughout populations.
  • Energy companies examine geological data to discover where to drill for energy or look at weather data to place wind and solar installations.
  • Financial companies analyze data to set risk parameters, assess market volatility, and identify areas for investment.
  • Manufacturers use big data to monitor their manufacturing systems to identify equipment that’s likely to break down and set maintenance schedules.
  • Logistics and delivery firms deploy big data analysis to assign transportation modes, determine routes, manage supply chains, and monitor drivers.
  • Municipal governments distribute resources such as police presence and emergency responders to areas of need as identified by big data.

Big Data Training Options

Individuals interested in working with big data can explore a wealth of training resources. Some offerings provide overviews of the field, while others provide education in the components of big data.

Four-year colleges, community colleges, and online schools offer courses on big data. Additionally, corporations that develop big data tools offer certifications in their products.

Revature offers training programs that pay associates to learn tech competencies such as big data skills and tools. It then places them in jobs in various tech professions based on market demand. This apprenticeship-like model combines hands-on training with real-world job experience, which helps associates establish themselves in the industry.

Big Data Skills

Working with big data concepts requires a range of skills — from working well with colleagues to proficiency with computer languages to the ability to see how parts fit into the big picture.

General Skills

The following skills will serve professionals well no matter where in big data they work:

  • Attention to detail
  • Pattern recognition
  • Communication, verbal and written
  • Problem solving

Computer and Programming Skills

Big data jobs require knowledge of or proficiency in a number of programming languages, as well familiarity with big data concepts.

General Concepts

  • Data visualization
  • Data mining
  • Machine learning
  • Dataset construction
  • Predictive modeling
  • Regression analysis
  • Statistical analysis
  • Quantitative analysis

Tools and Languages

  • Apache Hadoop
  • Apache Spark
  • SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Python and related programming languages
  • C and C++
  • Java
  • R
  • Go
  • Scala
  • Julia
  • Matlab
  • Microsoft Excel

Certifications

Companies that develop big data tools offer certifications in their products. Some education and training programs, including programs in Revature’s hire-train-deploy model , may help associates earn certain certifications in the tech industry. Big data certifications include:

  • CompTIA Data+
  • Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
  • Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist
  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • Dell EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)
  • Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Big Data – Specialty

Big Data Outlook for Job Seekers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of data-related jobs to increase about 8% in the decade ending in 2030, about the same as the average job growth. The BLS forecasts demand for workers in cloud computing, big data collection and storage, and security.

Big data offers competitive salaries, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for experienced database architects and administrators was $98,860 in May 2020. The median annual salary for other experienced computer-related professionals was $91,250.

Here’s a breakdown of some key positions that use big data skills:

Data Engineer

Data engineers build the framework for processing data, from collection to analysis. Their jobs are a combination of computing and engineering.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analysts decide how a business can use data effectively. They determine what business problems to attack and how to apply data to resolve them. The job requires a deep understanding of both the business and big data concepts.

Database Administrator

Database administrators keep the data infrastructure running. Their responsibilities include ensuring operational stability, updating systems, backing up information, and setting up and maintaining security systems.

Data Scientist

Data scientists locate applicable data among the volume of data collected and process it for analysis and interpretation. They deliver reports of their findings and how they can help the company.

Get Going in Tech With Revature

Assembling the tools to prepare for a career in big data might seem to be a daunting task, but it offers benefits in a rewarding and lucrative future. Partnering with a strong trainer and advocate can speed you on your way toward a tech career.

With Revature, associates are paid to learn during 10 to 14 weeks of training, followed by job placement with a leading company in an in-demand field.

If you’re interested in a new career in tech, regardless of background, and want to get practical training and hands-on experience, explore Revature’s training programs.

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