• students working on data analytics

    Data Analytics

Why Study Data Analytics

What is data analytics?

  • How do doctors identify patients at high risk of developing certain diseases?
  • How do cybersecurity experts flag online transactions that are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks?
  • How do baseball managers decide when to bring a relief pitcher?
  • How do retailers determine which ads to send you?
  • How can a cell phone app tell the difference between an American goldfinch and a yellow-throated vireo? 
  • How can a university identify incoming students who might need extra academic support?

The answer to all of these questions involve data analytics.

Data analytics is the process of using mathematics, statistics, and computer programming to solve problems and answer important questions by extracting information from data sets.

With the advent of social media, online commerce, and IoT ("Internet of Things") devices, organizations are awash in data. It's estimated that by 2025, the world will contain 163 zettabytes (that's 163 trillion gigabytes) of data, and someone has to be able to make sense of all of it. That's where the data analyst enters the picture.

What kind of classes do data analytics majors and minors take?

Given the interdisciplinary nature of data analytics, the classes offered cover a broad spectrum.

  • Mathematics. Data analysts are often called upon to develop mathematical models that capture the essence of a certain phenomenon so that it can be studied abstractly or on a small scale. Modelers should be well-versed in calculus and linear algebra, as these subjects were largely developed to create a mathematical framework for understanding various physical processes.
  • Statistics. Summarizing data sets, creating visualizations, and drawing interferences are essential to the work of a data analyst, which is why a broad training in statistics is a big part of a data analytics student's curriculum. Students learn how to use statistical software and to apply statistics in real-life settings while still learning the underlying mathematical theory of the subject.
  • Programming/Information Technology. Data sets are often enormous and thus way too big for a human being to sort through. But with the right programming skills and an understanding of the way computers process, store, and retrieve data, an analyst can make sense of even the most unwieldy data sets.
  • Business/Accounting. The biggest employers of data analysts are business entities, and it is therefore important that students receive training in the practices, vocabulary, and strategies of the business world. It's not surprising that many data analytics majors also minor in business administration or accounting and vice versa!

What is the data analytics job market like?

Go to any of the major job search websites and enter the word "analyst" into the search field. You'll be greeted with a list of thousands of high-paying jobs from all over the country. Here are some telling facts about the state of the data analytics industry.


  • There were an estimated 2.72 million job postings for analytics roles in 2020.(1)  That number is projected to increase to over 11 million by 2026.(2)
  • About 80% of global companies are investing in a data analytics division.(3)
  • 95% of employers say that data analytics skills are hard to find among job candidates.(1)
  • In the US, 94% of hospitals have adopted Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to support the digital transformation of health data. (4)
  • In Michigan in 2022, the average yearly salary was $70,028 for an entry-level data analyst and $123,359 for a senior data analyst.(5)
1 The 2020 global state of enterprise analytics. (2020). MicroStrategy.
2 Thirty fastest growing occupations projected to account for 19 percent of new jobs from 2016 to 2026. (2017, October 30). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3 Why data science is the most in-demand skill now and how can you prepare for it? (n.d.). World data science Initiative.
4 Durcevic, S. (2020, October 21). 12 examples of big data in healthcare that can save people. Datapine.
5 Data Analyst Salary Michigan, United States. (2022)  Salary Expert

And here are a few examples of of things recent AQ data analytics graduates are doing:

  • Predictive modeling at Auto-Owners Insurance in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Project management at Toyota Motors in Lexington, KY
  • Business intelligence at Service Express, Inc. in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Data engineering at Upfront Healthcare Services in Chicago, IL
  • Graduate school in Data Science at Grand Valley State University

Needless to say, the data analytics job market will be red hot for many years to come, and AQ data analytics students are well-positioned to make their mark in it.