7 Career Paths for a Certified Data Professional

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore possible careers as a certified data professional and the requirements for each role.

[Featured Image] A certified data professional sits at her laptop at home and researches new career paths she can take with a new certification.

Due to the rise of technology, data analysis is a popular, growing career path. Companies use technology and analytical tools daily and need certified professionals with backgrounds in data analytics to get the job done in various industries, including health care administration, supply chain management, and marketing. You may become officially certified as a data professional while earning a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. Earning this certification proves to employers that you have in-depth knowledge in areas like data quality, data governance, and metadata management.  

According to Statista, the global big data market's value was 240 billion US dollars in 2021, and by 2029, it is expected to increase to 650 billion US dollars, which means you might have a variety of job opportunities as a certified data professional [1]. 

Read further to explore potential careers to pursue as a certified data professional, as well as the salaries and requirements for those roles. Additionally, you can discover how to become a certified data professional.

7 career paths for a certified data professional

Explore seven career paths for a certified data professional below:

1. Data analyst

Annual average US salary (Glassdoor): $63,262 [2]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 23 percent [3]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

As a data analyst, you’re responsible for not only collecting and reviewing data but also using it to solve problems. You communicate your findings to other members of your organization or team, and working with them, you use the data to discover insights about customers, create new strategies, and write research reports for presentation purposes. Your goals are to increase profits and grow the business.

To become a data analyst, you typically need to enter the field with a bachelor’s degree. When studying for your bachelor’s degree, common majors include mathematics, computer science, data analytics, or economics. If you’re looking for more job opportunities, including higher-paying roles, you may consider getting your master’s degree as well.

2. Data analytics consultant

Annual average US salary (Glassdoor): $91,246 [4]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 13 percent [5]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Data analytics consultants use data and their analytical skills to determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and create new strategies based on their analysis for a business or organization. When you work as a data analytics consultant, you take a look at various data points, such as the outcome of an email or social media campaign, and use the results to figure out what to do next to ensure your company's marketing tactics are successful.

To become a data analytics consultant, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, finance, information technology, or a related field. You may also choose to further your education and experience through internships, certifications, and graduate degrees.

3. Data architect 

Average annual US Salary (Glassdoor): $134,132 [6]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 8 percent [7]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

As a data architect, you analyze and utilize data to create databases for companies and businesses using coding infrastructure, which means it’s a good idea for you to have a strong grasp of programming languages such as SQL, Python, or Java. You test out these databases to ensure their functionality and collaborate with others to implement necessary changes to existing database software.

To become a data architect, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field of study. You may choose to receive a master’s degree, which some employers encourage applicants to have.

4. Chief data officer

Annual average US salary (Glassdoor): $181,388 [8]

Job outlook: From 2021 to 2022, the number of top-level global firms with a chief data officer increased from 21 to 27 percent [9].

Requirements: Master’s degree

Chief data officers oversee and manage a business or company's data team. As a chief data officer (CDO), you must have strong leadership skills and work well with others to ensure accurate data collection and presentation. You are responsible for recruiting a team of well-trained data analysts and ensuring that they deliver data in a timely and organized manner.

To become a chief data officer, employers typically require applicants to hold a master’s degree in a technology-related field, such as computer science, or an advanced degree in business, such as an MBA. As a chief data officer, you must communicate effectively, understand data analysis, and have excellent organizational skills.

5. Statistician

Average annual US Salary (Glassdoor): $91,960 [10]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 30 percent [11]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree

As a statistician, you combine statistics and analysis to find trends within data. You also participate in collecting data through surveys, polls, and research. Statisticians typically work in the health care or government industries.

Your requirements to become a statistician may include obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in either statistics or data analytics. Some employers require a master’s degree, while others may hire those with only a bachelor’s degree, depending on the position. You need strong analytical and communication skills to succeed as a statistician.

6. Director of operations

Annual average US salary (Glassdoor): $114,457 [12]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 3 percent [13]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

As a director of operations, you ensure that a business runs smoothly and efficiently. You manage a team of individuals and collaborate with others to meet your organization’s long—and short-term goals. You use data and strong analytical skills to create new, innovative strategies that will lead your team and company to financial and operational success.

To become a director of operations, you typically need to have completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field, as well as an in-depth understanding of data analysis. You may choose to further your education by obtaining a master’s degree, which some larger businesses will prefer. Completing relevant professional certifications may help you stand out to potential employers in addition to your educational background.

7. Data scientist

Average annual US Salary (Glassdoor): $120,483 [14]

Job outlook (projected growth from 2022 to 2032): 35 percent [15]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Data scientists collect and analyze data to create machine learning programs and algorithms, then present their research to colleagues and stakeholders. As a data scientist, you often use the data you collect to solve problems, identify problems, and suggest changes that could save money.

To become a data scientist, you need a background in a related field, such as mathematics, data analytics, or computer science. Depending on your employer, you may need either a bachelor’s or master’s degree to qualify for a position. The industry you work in may determine additional requirements for any given role, such as years of experience or certifications.

How to become a certified data professional

To become a certified data professional, some certifications require you to study data analytics in an educational setting by pursuing either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Additionally, it would be best if you considered pursuing well-respected data analytics certifications that can help you boost your resume and stand out to future employers.

Top data certifications and certificates 

Certifications differ from Professional Certificates, though both expand your knowledge of a subject and allow you to gain more experience and credibility in the field you choose to study. Certifications typically require more time to complete, as well as a final exam to put what you’ve learned to the test. You may pursue a Professional Certificate if you want to build skills and continue learning a specific subject or field of study. Essentially, a Professional Certificate is about learning something new, while earning a certification is about proving to potential employers and your industry that you have the necessary knowledge.

Top data certifications and Professional Certificates for an aspiring certified data professional include:

  • Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP): The global data management community offers this certification, which contains four different levels: CDMP Associate, CDMP Practitioner, CDMP Master, and CDMP Fellow. Each level requires more experience and prerequisites to qualify and can enhance your knowledge of data management, ethics, and business intelligence.

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP™): The CAP™ certification focuses on the seven domains of analytics, giving you advanced knowledge in multiple areas of analytics to ensure career success. Prerequisites for the CAP™ certification include varying levels of education and work experience. For example, if you have a master’s degree, only two years of experience are necessary. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need four years of work experience to qualify.

  • IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate: This data analyst credential from IBM explores applying data analysis to everyday problems and expands your knowledge of programming and various programs used for data analysis. With this credential, you can qualify for entry-level roles in data analytics.

  • Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate: This Professional Certificate offered by Google provides you with the information you need regarding analyzing data, problem-solving, and programming language. 

  • SAS Certified Data Scientist: The SAS Academy for Data Science offers a certification program that expands your programming, machine learning, and data analytics knowledge. To qualify for this certification, you must have programming experience and know at least one programming language, preferably SAS.

Getting started with Coursera

If you want to start your career as a certified data professional, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science, statistics, or data analytics. Once you’ve accomplished this goal, you can pursue a certification to advance your career. However, even without a bachelor’s degree, you can earn specific certifications that can help you acquire an entry-level role. 

You might also consider taking courses and completing Professional Certificates on Coursera that can provide knowledge and experience in the field of data analytics. For example, you can explore Foundations of Data Science, which is part of the Google Advanced Data Analytics Professional Certificate, or the Business Data Management and Communication Specialization offered by the University of Illinois, also found on Coursera.

Article sources


Statista. “Size of the big data analytics market worldwide from 2021 to 2029, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1336002/big-data-analytics-market-size/.” Accessed April 16, 2024.

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