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Data Visualization Jobs Grow As Data Takes Central Role in Business Strategy

Data Visualization Jobs Grow As Data Takes Central Role in Business Strategy

African American businessman presenting a data visualization in front of colleagues in an office.

Last Updated January 18, 2021

Organizations in every sector of the economy now gather data in the hopes of extracting useful information to drive better business strategy. That’s made people who understand how to glean that information and translate it into actionable steps extremely valuable.

Data visualization jobs involve the use of software that allows for the creation of useful data visuals without having to go through a developer. Those who hold these key positions help companies identify and apply data-based insights to make operations more effective and efficient.

It’s a useful skill in every industry, said Javier Leon, MBA, PMP, who teaches the Essentials of Data Visualization course within Villanova University’s College of Professional Studies. He tells students that anyone can benefit from adding data visualization to their skillset.

“I know people who work for newspapers that use data visualization and they do not come from an engineering or STEM background,” he said. “People in psychology could benefit from it. Even if you are trying to understand things about the election, you could very well use data visualization tools.”

Paths to Data Visualization Jobs

Those who specialize in data visualization jobs provide a key bridge between the IT department where data analysis occurs and the executive offices where strategic decisions are made. The improved software systems for data visualization allow easier review, comparison and sharing of data, even among those who do not understand how the data was extracted and analyzed.

While the job titles and duties may vary, the skills needed for a data visualization job include these important areas.

  • Understanding how to create charts, graphs and tables using popular data visualization software from Tableau and Qlik
  • Using Tableau and Qlik to create filters, KPIs and buttons
  • Analyzing and populating worksheets with data
  • Knowing best practices for creation of dashboards
  • Knowing best practices for aligning business and IT

Skills involved in data analytics include critical thinking and problem solving, as well as math and communication skills. Specific data visualization jobs include the following:

Data Scientist

Data scientists develop analytics applications that transform data into actionable information through programming languages and visualization software. O*Net Online, a free job resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, reports that skills needed to become a data scientist include application of data mining, data modeling, natural language processing and machine learning, all used to collect and analyze structured and unstructured datasets. Data scientists then interpret that data and use data visualization to report the findings.

Jobs in the field paid an average salary of $94,280 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). States with the largest number of data scientists include California, Illinois, Texas, New York and Ohio.

Data Visualization Engineer

Data visualization engineers focus on presenting data findings in a format that people without technical skills can understand. They need expertise in the various ways to present data to make visual representations that best reflect the type of data being shown and the audience. Skills in data warehousing are essential to the job. Data visualization engineers also can boost their career potential by knowing SQL and Python-based visualization programs.

PayScale lists the average pay nationwide for data visualization engineers at $98,264. 

Data Analyst

Data analyst is a broad term that can describe people who use data in many different areas, including management analysts, budget analysts and operations research analysts. The goal in each is the same: collecting and analyzing data to find insights that lead to improvements in the focus area (management, healthcare, etc.). 

The BLS reports an annual average salary of $84,810 for data analysts in May 2019.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analysts focus their analytics skills on finding trends in large datasets and using them to help drive better business strategy. A large part of the job involves using data visualization to present findings to stakeholders that include executives, managers and clients. They also use insights into data to make recommendations for actions by business leaders.

O*Net Online reports an annual average salary of $94,280 in this profession.

Many of the above jobs come with different titles and variations on job duties. They include:

  • Data, Analytics and Visualization Engineer
  • Consumer Insights Director
  • Enterprise Data Steward
  • Senior Consumer Insights Analyst
  • Market Intelligence Analyst
  • Strategic Business and Technology Intelligence Consultant

Whatever the job title, success in a data visualization job requires a mix of skills. Leon said data visualization incorporates business analysis, analytics and intelligence, as well as data mining. 

“When you have your information, your data, in front of you, you can very easily turn it into useful information – and actionable information,” Leon said. “And information that would also move you to action when you are looking at it. I really like that about data visualization.”

National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and certificate and degree program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.