What Does a Data Consultant Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the role of a data consultant and how this career is developing through the use of AI. Follow our guide on how to get started in this field.

[Featured Image] A data consultant makes strategic recommendations to her colleagues.

As a data consultant, you'll support businesses by analyzing data to discover insights into the company’s operations while developing strategies to help executives make data-driven decisions. Since data consultants tend to be self-employed, companies hire them temporarily, but full-time positions are typically available if you prefer a steady job.

In this role, you'll use technical software and systems, including AI, to extract, analyze, and translate data. Within this article, you’ll learn more about data consultants, including their duties, responsibilities, and salary, as well as understanding the necessary skills, training, and technical abilities you need for this career.

What is a data consultant?

As a data consultant, you make sense of large bodies of data so that a company can understand the market and its performance and make important business decisions. In addition to understanding data, you will most likely develop data strategies that align with business objectives to drive companies forward.

While working as a data consultant, you might coordinate with a group of experts who collect and analyze data. Other tasks in your position could include designing data management and storage systems and communicating with relevant departments. To work in this role, you will most likely need excellent data-analysis skills and experience and the ability to lead and communicate well with others.

Read more: 4 Data Analyst Career Paths: Your Guide to Leveling Up

Duties and responsibilities of a data consultant

The duties and responsibilities of a data consultant vary depending on where you work, the kind of data you work with, and the company's goals. However, general duties include:

  • Designing and implementing data management systems

  • Assessing and improving data analysis processes

  • Developing and using data models

  • Making recommendations on changes in data analysis and management

  • Analyzing business aims and aligning them to data strategies

  • Training staff on data analysis and reporting 

  • Producing data analysis reports

  • Using analytics software and systems 

  • Adhering to data governance procedures

  • Liaising with executive-level staff and making recommendations based on data

Read more: What Is Management Information Systems (MIS)? Your Career Guide

How does a data consultant work with AI?

Within the field of modern-day data consulting, you can now utilize AI tools to accelerate data collection and then use those same tools to facilitate the analysis process to find trends and patterns faster, making your job much more efficient. Additionally, incorporating AI into the data analysis process helps to eliminate some human error.

Furthermore, because AI can now automate many of the previously time-consuming tasks, you, as a data consultant, can focus more on the type of analysis that requires human insight and creativity. Currently, many of the tools data consultants use are AI-driven, including Microsoft Power BI and Tableau. 

Data consultant skills

If you choose a career as a data consultant, your job will involve a range of technical skills for analyzing data, in addition to workplace skills for effectively communicating strategies and results to relevant teams. Some essential skills include:

Technical skills

Workplace skills

  • Leadership

  • Attention to detail

  • Communication

  • Problem-solving

  • Critical thinking

  • Training others

  • Time management 

Data consultant salary and job outlook

According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for a data consultant in the US is $118,621 annually [1]. This figure includes an average base salary of $97,050 and $21,572 in additional pay. Additional pay may represent profit-sharing, commissions, or bonuses.

Additionally, data-related positions are seeing rapid growth, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with rates well above average, anywhere between 10 to 36 percent [2]. 

How to become a data consultant 

If you’re thinking of becoming a data consultant, it’s important that you build up your data analysis experience first. Many data consultants start in roles such as data analyst or software engineer before moving on to consultancy-based roles.  Typically, you will need two to four years of experience in more entry-level positions before being hired as a data consultant. Internships are also a popular way of developing your skill set.

Working as a data consultant contains a significant amount of flexibility. You can be self-employed, work for a consulting firm, or become a full-time employee at a business or organization. Consider the way you want to work, how you will promote yourself, and the industry you want to enter when considering what suits you best.

Education and training

Data consultancy requires both business and technical knowledge, so it is essential that you have the appropriate education and training. The entry point for a data consultant is generally a bachelor’s degree in data analysis, statistics, mathematics, finance, business, or computer science.  According to Zippia, 61 percent of data consultants have a bachelor’s degree, with 20 percent continuing their education to the master’s level [3]. 

Read more: What Degree Do I Need to Become a Data Analyst?

AI certifications for data consultants

AI is becoming more advanced in data analytics, which means that as a data consultant, earning a Professional Certificate on Coursera or certification could improve your job prospects. Every addition to your education is important because data professionals work closely with AI technology. Some consultancy companies even have AI departments where professionals have specialist knowledge in AI and data analytics. With this in mind, building your skills in AI tools may be helpful. 

Consider adding a certification or Professional Certificate to your resume, which will demonstrate your AI knowledge of data analytics. 

Will AI take data consultant jobs?

While AI can work wonders with processes like automation, it can’t replace human processes such as critical thinking, ethical considerations, and emotional intelligence. Undoubtedly, AI developments make data collecting, analyzing, and reporting easier while also consuming less time in the process. But while AI is an effective tool for supporting data roles, it alone isn’t up to developing strategies and making business decisions, making data consultant jobs essential. 

Getting started on Coursera

Are you looking to build your skills in data analysis and AI? A great starting point is an online course about mastering business intelligence tools that use AI. Check out Data Visualization and Communication With Tableau on Coursera, delivered by Duke University. This program is designed for beginners and covers topics like data visualization, data manipulation, and more.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Data Consultant Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/data-consultant-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.htm.” Accessed March 21, 2024.

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