How to enter the Analytics Industry?

We have been in the field of Analytics training for over 4 years now (current and previous organization) and have trained personally over 1000 students in both SAS programming as well as advanced analytics including both retail and corporate clients.

One of the most repeated queries I field from my students is “How do I get in?” or “How do I convince an Analytics company to hire me ?” or “I have 10 years experience in so-and-so industry, how do I make a switch to Analytics?” . If only I had a rupee for everytime I was asked this question, I guess I could have retired by now! (or maybe 10 Rs/question).

Well, there is no singular answer or approach to enter the industry, off-campus freshers face a tortuous task in breaking in, to get hired you need to have experience in Analytics and to get experience in Analytics, you need to be already hired somewhere. Its an age old challenge.

Back in the day, all technical trades were controlled by guilds (for e.g. carpentry, masonry or blacksmiths) which acted both as facilitators to the chosen and entry barriers to the upstarts. To enter the field, a young man (or person) would have to grovel before an established artisan to get an unpaid apprenticeship in return for lodging and food. This was generally unpaid labor but in the bargain the apprentice gained experience and the artisan free labor. After a few years the apprentice would be granted membership of the guild and be free to setup on his own.

Jump to the 21st century and transplant this to Analytics, How do YOU break in ? The challenge a 1000 years after the establishment of guilds remains the same, to be hired you need experience under your belt and to be experienced you need to get hired.

A few clarifications for people trying to break in

  • First off, there is no formal qualification or degree required to be an Analytics professional. (You dont need fancy Maths/Stats/Engg degrees, I have seen arts graduates become Subject Matter Experts in collections analytics).
  • Secondly, there is no age limit, 40 year olds have made the jump and done extremely well.
  • Its a job seekers market, provided you have reached the magic figure of 12 months experience.

Experience in analytics is King today, people who have experience can literally dictate hiring terms.

But how to get that initial experience? Therein lies the heartbreak, though there is a way, just like it was thousands of years ago, apprenticeships (we call them internships now), you have to convince a company, any analytics company to hire you either at a very low salary or even no salary in the beginning. Face it, you need them more than they need you at this stage. Anything to get that valuable CV line about experience in. This is typically a call which freshers just out of college are able to take easily. But for those coming with previous industry experience will find difficult to make the jump. Whether to make this jump or not is a decision you have to take.

I have seen 30 year olds leave stable jobs to start in Analytics at Rs 12,000 /month salaries. A year later they are already at their previous levels. 32 year housewife who took up a SAS programming course was offered a 10,000/month contract for 3 months at a small analytics company, she is now a middle level manager in the analytics arm of a major MNC. The pattern is evident, do whatever it takes to get working once you have acquired a few skills; whether through some training courses or self study.

Analytics companies do not care about your educational qualification, formal background, if you have prior analytics experience, you are a rare commodity and you will be snapped up.

That said, what are the skills that one needs to even get a foot in the door. I have one word for that – “SAS”. SAS programming jobs are probably one of the easiest ways to get a foothold in the industry today. SAS certifications (exam costs some USD 200, quite cheap for the benefits it provides) on your CV can act as a substitute for SAS programming experience. The companies will treat you as a known commodity if you have cleared the certification exams and will increase your chances of shortlisting.(I will insert a disclaimer here – since our organization specializes in SAS training for certification, this opinion piece may be considered biased to convince the reader to enroll for SAS training, that is not the objective, I am merely stating an observation)

Secondly, there are SAS jobs and then there are SAS Analytics jobs. One mistake that people can make is to take an initially higher paying pure SAS programming job over a SAS Analytics profile. Candidates need to be very aware of the nature of work they are getting into, a company which offers work in predictive modeling or data mining using SAS should always be preferred over a pure SAS programming job. A mistake here could mean a career of reporting and ad hoc requests versus definitely more glamorous side of Predictive modeling. Beg, borrow, steal, kill or even pay, but get experience of predictive modeling under your belt. A small difference in the beginning but over 30 year career can mean totally divergent paths.

A note here: Typically startups are more likely to hire people based on attitude/aptitude rather than a CV. They provide the best opportunities for people who really want to break in.

In sum :

  • Study a lot, it takes time to master any new technical skill, typically to reach an employable skill level in SAS and basic analytics will require upto 500 hours of training, practice and self study. (Target 4 hours a day over a period of 3-4 months)
  • Be prepared to spend time in the trenches, you have to be mentally ready to take a salary cut, maybe a huge one to get that elusive experience initially. (Target internships and startups here, have a target of 8-12 months experience under your belt before you start looking around after this)
  • Make intelligent choices , in your career, even a 1 week project in predictive modeling using say regression could make all the difference.(Beware of pure SAS programming jobs, they may only be on the reporting side, keep trying to gain experience in data modeling projects)
  • Every big MNC has an analytics arm, if you are already working in such a company, pull all strings to get into an allied project which you can leverage for experience, or an internal transfer. (I know a guy who was in the BPO arm of a major MNC, he bugged his reporting chain for 1.5 years before they finally relented, today he is travelling all over the world as an SCM analytics consultant!)
  • Those who play it like they have nothing to lose are the ones who win big, bring your attitude with you
Do let us know if you found this post helpful, for any queries regarding analytics careers or analytics training drop in a mail at info@learnanalytics.in or check out our website www.learnanalytics.in
We are interested in learning how you made the jump into the analytics industry, drop us a note in the comments section for the other readers.

Comments


19 thoughts on “How to enter the Analytics Industry?

  1. I hve 1 Yr exp core java!!! In 2011 12!!
    then left devoloping !! Prep for ibps!! But i m 28 Now btech it wbut!! Can any hadoop cirtification from any institute in kolkata helps me to get job as data analyst !! Or its just a waste of money!!

  2. Hi,

    I belong to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM practice. I am having an overall experience of around 11 years in Microsoft Technologies (including MS Dynamics CRM).
    I have been doing some trainings on R that are available on the net, since I am very much interested to move into the Data Analytics Industry and Predictive Analysis.
    Kindly help me understand:
    1. With all my years of experience in the non-data-analytics industry, will it be possible for me to move into this industry (Data Analytics), if so then how difficult/easy would it be.
    2. What should be my course of actions for pursuing this line and hence how can I register for trainings/certifications pertaining to Data Analytics, specifically R.
    3. Please pardon me for my ignorance, I have had discussions with a colleague of mine who has moved onto R. Is there any specific reason why someone should go for either of any available Predictive Analysis Tool (SAS or R or any other)

  3. I’m already certified in Data Science with SAS, it took me around 8 months to master it. But finally I can easily build predictive models and solve any problem in analytics. Now I had applied to a lot of companies for job/internship, but I haven’t received a single response from anyone..I don’t understand why this would happen.
    I have worked on resume as well, however not receiving a single call/email is sort a let down.

  4. Hey I have 6 yrs exp in computer troubleshooting and I have done BE in computer science. Can I get into analytics? Analytics is my passion. Can I go for SAS?

  5. Hi, Thanks for the info. It has some important and useful suggestions for those who are trying to get enter and also for those who want to switch.
    Currently I am working in an MNC in Testing domain. I want to switch to the Analytics which i liked the most. I started with R programming and Python. SAS is the proprietary costly software. As you told…we some how need to get hands on experience. I am also learning the Hadoop as well as ETL. I feel all together will work better. I am now concentrating in learning the predictive analytic models.

    I want to add one beautiful website for the Analytic competitions. kaggle.com

  6. Am a BE graduate & currently looking out for a job as a HR in a consultancy firm…will my consultancy experience b counted in to move into a MNC…Plz do reply soon

  7. Hi I am a Electrical engineer 3 year of experience as project coordinator in the power industry. Can u please guide me how can i enter the field of analytics.

    Thanks

  8. I have 2 years of experience as a medical coder.I did my bacholers in pharmacy.Now i want to change my career.I want to take sas training.I dont have any knowledge about this domain.plz help me

  9. Hi I am a software engineer 1.5 year of experience in the industry. I did some R&D about analytics and other aspects related to that. I am a bit confused from where and how can i enter the field! Can u please guide me regarding that?

    Thanks

  10. Hi,

    I think you are right on the dot, especially with Big data lurching in the corner, getting insight of meaningful information from mountainous data is going to be challenging one. I really appreciate your frank and open suggestions. Godd work. Keep it up
    Regards

  11. I have work experience for a few years in BPO operations and recruitment and training. My qualification is MBA. Can I get a suitable break in the field of analytics

  12. I have 2 years of experience in HR and am wanting to work as a freelancer. Please let me know if there are an projects related to HR or market research or survey.

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