What is Data Management?
As corporations and government agencies become more and more aware of the importance Big Data has in our lives, they increasingly call for data management professionals to join their organizations. Businesses clamor for data analysts who can discern patterns in consumer habits, financial markets, and other human endeavors. Governments seek out data science professionals who can analyze employment trends, environmental data, and any factors that may impact the economy or society in general.
With a background in data management, you can also pursue other specialty areas. For instance, some pursue careers in cyber security where they seek to root out any nefarious hacking activities. Others find that their programming abilities are a better focus for them and so they migrate into software development or engineering. Still others might delve into artificial intelligence or economics research, where the ability to crunch the big data is a vital skill.
Alabama, like many states, has an ever-growing need for data management professionals. Whether you wish to apply your skills and knowledge to a focus area such as public health, where you can help government agencies tackle the spread of diseases such as COVID-19, or marketing, Alabama enterprises will appreciate your work. You might even apply your degree to a position in state or federal law enforcement where you can help officials track down cyber-thieves and terrorists.
To meet this demand, Alabama's colleges and universities are offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Many Alabama institutions now have computer science departments that offer data science courses or concentrations. You can also augment your social science degree with a minor in statistics or information technology.
This page is all about how to launch a career in data management in Alabama. Please read on to discover more about the field and how to build a path to success.
Data Management Education in Alabama
Associate Degree in Data Management (AS)
You can launch a career in data management with just an associate degree in the field. To succeed, you should strive for the absolute highest GPA you can muster. This field is highly competitive but if you have the talent and a strong record in your two-year program you should be able to get your foot in the door.
Once you land that first job, it's imperative to keep learning more about your field. You could take classes online at night or seek out a non-academic certificate program. Your certificate will depend on the environment you're working in. That's because some are geared to specific products or brands like Cisco, Oracle, and Amazon Web Services.
Bachelor's Degree in Data Management (BS)
This is the degree that is most likely to help you land a spot as a data management professional. Since the field is highly competitive, it's imperative that you work hard for a high GPA, complete as many internships as possible, and perhaps augment your degree with a suitable minor or double major. Since data management is a profession that is found in any firm that deals with any significant amount of data, you should seek a minor or double major in a field that expresses your long-term desires. You could choose something specific like marketing, finance, or healthcare informatics. On the other hand, you could focus on core skills and cast a wider net with a minor or double major in a field such as: economics, sociology, statistics, mathematics, or computer science to name a few. If you choose a field that is not specific to any particular industry or narrow job description you will have more options when you graduate and you can delve into a specialty from there.
Master's Degree in Data Management (MS or MC)
After you've completed a bachelor’s degree in data management, you should consider graduate school. Given that starting salaries in this field can begin at around $100,000 for people with a bachelor’s degree, a master's degree is sure to provide an ample return on investment. Your graduate degree is sure to secure a spot in management and will later open the doors to the C-suites.
To prepare yourself, make sure you take courses in statistics, the Python programming language, and both calculus and linear algebra. It will also help to have work experience or practical experience working as an intern. Consider, too, that you have choices when it comes to graduate school.
There are many Master of Science programs but there are also MBA programs that feature a concentration in data analytics or data management. If you intend to apply your data management skills to the world of banking or finance, this may be the best option. However, even those in other fields can benefit from an MBA in Data Management or even a dual MBA program.
PhD Degree in Data Management (PhD)
Given that data management is such a competitive field, a PhD may be what you need to rise to the top. It helps that the field is rather new and already heavily entrenched in academia. That is, it requires high level mathematical ability that is not easy to self-teach nor to learn on the job. Major firms are seeking out professionals who have degrees from top Alabama data management programs, but those with doctorate degrees are more likely to work in academia exclusively.
However, CEOs increasingly understand the vital importance of Big Data to the future success of their firms and a PhD in Data Management, Data Science, or Data Analytics may garner you a high salary and a high-status position. Essentially, any upper-level degree that engages you with Big Data is sure to result in terrific career opportunities. Thus, a PhD in Statistics, Economics, Sociology, or Public Health could provide the requisite background for a dynamite data management position.
Become a Data Manager in Alabama
If you wish to become a data management professional in Alabama, you will need to start out with a degree that is heavily weighted towards mathematics, with an emphasis on statistical analysis. There are several Alabama degree programs that focus on data analytics. You might find these programs in a computer science department or a School of Engineering, but you can also learn the same skills in a social science or mathematics department.
Essentially, if your goal is to work in data management or data analytics, your study of statistics, economics, or public health can help you attain that career. If you are in a social science degree program, make sure to do research using Big Data and high-level statistical analysis. Along the way, you may want to learn a bit about database management and computer programming, too. In particular, the Python language tends to be in high demand for those who work with Big Data.
When you are able to crunch Big Data, have strong mathematical and programming skills, and have completed a degree, you can launch a career in Alabama. Keep in mind that if you would prefer to work in a particular field you can tailor your degree program accordingly. For instance, you might wish to help fight future pandemics so you can specialize in epidemiology with a public health degree. Others may desire a career in marketing or finance and can thus pursue Big Data research for their Alabama business degree. Data management skills also come in handy in cyber security, information technology, and healthcare informatics, to name a few possible career paths.
Given that the essential tools required to be a terrific data management professional apply across a wide range of fields and industries, it will surely be easy to make a transition when you desire. Thus, if your particular industry begins to wane, you can still apply your abilities elsewhere. It may help to remain in the same general niche, such as marketing or financial analysis, but your skill set will be considered valuable regardless.
Top College Programs in Alabama for Data Management
- University of Alabama:
The Culverhouse College of Business is where many Alabama data analysts get their start. Culverhouse offers degrees in applied statistics, management information systems, and operations management. They also offer graduate degrees to those who wish to take their data management careers to the next level.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham:
The Collate School of Business on the UAB campus offers an information systems degree that will set you on the track to apply your analytical skill in the business community. On the other hand, you could hone your skills with their computer science degrees or a focus on social sciences, such as economics.
- University of Alabama in Huntsville:
UAH offers a wealth of opportunities for their undergraduate students. Their ABET accredited program offers a data science concentration that you can use to begin your path to Big Data greatness. Other concentrations include cyber security, gaming and entertainment, and web programming. For a well-rounded experience you might consider a minor in mathematics, economics, or sociology.
- Auburn University:
You'll find Auburn's computer science degree programs offered through their Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Undergraduates who are aiming for a data management career should consider adding a minor in mathematics. Once you've completed their bachelor’s degree program in computer science you can progress into their Graduate program for data science and engineering.
- University of North Alabama:
You can launch a career in data management with a degree from UNA's department of computer science. If, on the other hand, you would prefer to major in a social sciences subject, you can augment your degree with an undergraduate certificate in data science. In fact, this is a great idea for those who are working towards a degree in the economics and finance department.
- Troy University:
While you study for a degree in computer science, you will learn about algorithms, statistics, and discrete mathematics. You might even augment your degree with a minor in statistics that will help focus your academic foundation for a career in data management.
Careers for Data Management Graduates
- Data Scientist / Big Data Analyst:
Professionals in this field spend their time crunching data in search of patterns and meaningful trends. You can get a start in this field with an undergraduate degree that focuses on statistical analysis and Big Data. However, to attain the most success in the field you will likely need a master's or doctorate degree.
- Cyber Security Manager:
If you study data management and understand how to analyze large chunks of data, you can likely find work in cyber security. These professionals are trained to find anomalies in the data that may reveal a hack or perhaps a vulnerability in a system or network. This field is equally as hot as data management, so this is something to consider, especially if you are in a computer science department.
- Database Administrator:
The database is increasingly the core of any business and your computer science or information technology degree can help land a position as a database administrator. For this position you'll certainly need to know database languages such as SQL and its variants. You may also need Python and other languages.
- Information Security Analyst:
This is a highly paid profession that is growing like wildfire. Potential employers include the full range of private sector and non-profit organizations, as well as government agencies. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have teamed up to qualify cyber security programs at colleges and universities nationwide.
- Penetration Tester:
This profession is a subset of the cyber security field. Also known as ethical hackers or white-hat hackers, penetration testers seek to verify a security protocol by trying to break into a network. To succeed as a penetration tester you may need to start your career as an information security analyst or architect.
- Security Consultant (cybersec):
With a few years of experience in cyber security you might want to pursue consulting for your next career move. Security consultants often need to do a good bit of traveling, but if you specialize in penetration testing, for example, you might be able to practice from a position remote to that of your client.
- Data Science Professor:
To attain the best salary and tenured position you should attain a Doctorate in Data Science, Computer Science, or a related field. Some even pursue systems science PhDs in order to teach at the university level. One key perk to this career path is that you might be able to pursue outside research or other projects in your spare time.
Business Degrees & Career Paths