My Education: BA, Mathematics and French, Regis College MS, Mathematics, Northeastern University
My Prior Experience: I worked for a computer component manufacturer generating product quality reports.
My Company: A high tech, computer storage and software company.
Job/Career Overview: I use database programming skills to gather product reliability data on equipment that is installed and running at customer sites. I analyze data comparing how many products are installed, for how long, and how many failed and just how long they'd been installed before they failed. For simple analysis, I use Excel to tabulate the data. For more in-depth analysis I use statistical software packages such as Minitab or SAS to determine means, confidence intervals and other statistics for data.
Another aspect of my job is attending team meetings to prioritize fixes and enhancements to our customer service database. I also review documents that describe in detail the changes for the developers doing the work. In addition, I must test the implementation of the changes to make sure that the change was implemented correctly and to understand, too, how it will affect the central database that it ties into.
Some of the skills needed for my job are computer programming, proficiency in SQL (Standard Query Language) and a background in statistics.
More Insights: For even higher degrees, investigate an applied statistics program. Biostatistics and market research are also excellent choices for careers in statistics.
The best parts of the job are writing SQL queries to retrieve data and using statistical methods to draw conclusions. I also write up results in formal reports. I am my group's representative on a team to recommend enhancements and fixes for the corporate field database. With the technology today, I have the flexibility of working at home. I can log in to the company's network and attend meetings via conference calls. I work with people from all over the world.
The hardest part of the job is trying to sift through the data when it may not have been recorded correctly. Sometimes results of such data analysis are needed quickly and there is pressure to meet deadlines.
My advice to anyone pursuing a career in data analysis is to become proficient in computer programming languages. I would recommend courses in Java and database courses. Developing programming skills will help with retrieving and manipulating data, often the hardest part of data analysis. Being proficient with basic spreadsheet packages is crucial. I recommend taking more than one statistics course if possible. I would also encourage students to further their educations with a master's degree.