Analytics Professionals Hard To Find And Command Higher Salaries

A piggy bank and a stack of books, can be used for

Australian businesses and government departments crave analytics professionals, but talent is still hard to find, according to the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia’s (IAPA) 2014 Skills and Salary Survey Report.

Kim Carter
Posted by Kim Carter

IAPA has conducted its second annual salary survey to explore the employment opportunities, education, experience, skills and salary ranges of analytics professionals. Nearly 500 people who work with data responded, reporting from a variety of industries across the country.

The key findings were:

  • recruiting analysts remains a challenge
  • analysts make twice – sometimes three times – the average Aussie salary
  • social is hot
  • people from other disciplines are now moving into the industry
  • a disconnect remains between business and analysts – ‘decision inertia’
  • data scientist professionals are uniquely skilled.

Recruitment remains a challenge

Nearly 90% of respondents said recruiting analysts was harder than or as hard as last year. The increasing demand for analytics across more business units and in more industries has boosted demand for these professionals, which continues to drive up salaries.

“The global trend of demand for talented analysts outstripping supply remains true in Australia with the majority of managers reporting difficulty filling positions,” said Jodie Sangster, ADMA/IAPA CEO.  “This is an area we need to address through education and upskilling to ensure we have the future professionals required in this field.”

Commanding higher salaries

The report also shows analytics professionals earn almost twice the median Australian salary – $125,000 annually. Respondents in the workforce for up to three years and now working in analytics had a median salary of $72 – $75K while those working for 14 to 16 years had a median salary of $152 – $194K. (Variations are based on whether analysts are in industry or the supply side).

Social is hot

Those who analyse and mine ‘social media and social network data’ are earning a 50% premium over the average respondent’s salary. This group has a median salary of $190K, almost three times the median Australian salary.

“With social analytics typically located in the marketing domain and marketing nominated as the most common ‘owner’ of the analytics function, the CMO is quickly becoming the key analytics decision maker,” said Sangster.

People want to become analysts

“Analytics is becoming a career magnet,” said Doug Campbell, IAPA Chairman. “The report shows that respondents are moving into the field from other disciplines, evidence that analytics is emerging as an attractive career option,”

Keeping skills up to date was flagged as both the biggest challenge by 43% of respondents as well as their biggest interest. Some 75% of respondents were interested in receiving further non-degree training and 40% were pursuing further degree-based education.

Not stressed by the data iceberg

Despite all the hype about big data, only 15% of those surveyed ranked handling big data as a challenge. “Either we’ve yet to really hit the big data iceberg or we’ve sailed straight past it. Either way, respondents seem to see data as data, big or little,” said Evan Stubbs, chief analytics officer-SAS, and the report’s author.

Unique set of skills displayed by nearly a quarter of respondents

This year IAPA introduced a segmentation analysis to better understand the types of professionals in the Australian market. Twenty-four percent, dubbed ‘Data Science Professionals’, showed a unique set of skills: they’re more multi-skilled, more technical and use change management, persuasion, business case development and communication skills more than other respondents.

“Without a universally agreed definition of ‘data scientist,’ perhaps the characteristics of this segment could act as a proxy,” suggested Stubbs.

The other three groups identified were classified as:

  • BI & visualisation focused (35%)
  • traditional analysts (30%)
  • analytical integrators (11%).

Persuasion challenges: potential disconnect between business and analytics

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said a bigger challenge was ‘convincing their company of the value of analytics’ while ‘getting the company to act on insights’ was cited as a challenge by 38%.

“There’s a disconnect between what companies say they want and what’s actually happening – everyone wants answers and yet analysts struggle to get people to act on those answers. It’s this ‘decision inertia’ that respondents seem most frustrated with,” added Stubbs.

“Business leaders will need to improve the use of evidence from analytics to guide decision-making, and understand how marrying insights and experience improves performance. Analytics professionals need to directly link their efforts to business priorities and communicate insights in ways that are easily assimilated and understood by business decision-makers. IAPA will be beside both groups to support, encourage and facilitate their needs,” concluded Campbell.

The IAPA report can be downloaded free here.