What Are the Highest Paying Data Analyst Jobs?

Austin Chia, contributor to the CareerFoundry Blog.

Are you confident in your data analytics abilities? Are you looking for a high-paying job that uses your number-crunching skills? If so, then consider choosing a data analyst job.

Data analyst positions are increasingly in high demand these days. If you’re not asking for fair remuneration, you may end up missing out on some lucrative job offers.

But are data analysts actually paid well? How much do they make? Which data analyst jobs pays the most?

From financial analytics to data consulting and beyond, you’ll be surprised to know the many great opportunities out there for data analysts.

In this blog post, we’ll look in greater detail into these well-paid job opportunities, covering the following:

  1. What does a data analyst do?
  2. Are data analysts paid well?
  3. The top 3 highest paying data analyst jobs
  4. What factors determine a data analyst’s salary
  5. How to get into data analytics
  6. Next steps

So if you’re thinking about jumping on some of the highest paying data analyst jobs, read on!

1. What does a data analyst do?

Firstly, let’s cover what a data analyst does!

A data analyst analyzes data sets to look for trends and patterns, which they interpret to drive critical business decisions.

Data analysts typically use various applications to access and analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data from disparate sources to produce meaningful insights.

Their skillset spans multiple fields from statistics, to computer science, to mathematics.

Strong problem-solving abilities are required of most data analyst jobs, as well as expertise in common data analytics languages such as Python or SQL.

In addition, they may also create graphs, charts, and other visualizations to help decision-makers comprehend the data more efficiently.

However, the role of a data analyst doesn’t end there! Data analysts can take on many variations and have multiple positions depending on the data they work on.

2.  Are data analysts paid well?

The answer is yes, data analysts are typically paid well.

In general, salaries for data analyst jobs have increased over the past decade and continue to be competitive in the job market. According to Zippia, the average salary of a data analyst in the U.S. in early 2024 is around $74,000 per year.

However, the general term for a data analyst is too broad and there are opportunities to land some of the higher-paying data analyst jobs out there.

Let’s have a look at some of them!

3. The top 3 highest paying data analyst jobs

Highest paying data analyst jobs: Data consultant

A data consultant is a data analyst hired to provide expert advice and guidance to client companies through data insights. These consultants provide the benefits of data analytics to businesses without having an in-house analyst.

They interpret collected data and offer strategies, advice, and solutions to help clients make informed business decisions. Data consultants also advise on how to manage and use their data assets more efficiently.

Data consultants are some of the highest-paid professionals among data analysts. According to Payscale, the average data consultant salary is $93,506 per year.

Data consultants tend to have more experience and expertise than typical data analysts, commanding some of the highest-paying salaries in data analytics.

Some common skills used by data consultants include:

These data consultants also require strong technical expertise in standard tools such as:

These consultants will also be looking at a wide variety of data sources and will be encountering different types of data for each client project.

If you’re looking for a challenging yet rewarding data analyst job that involves a heavy business application and working on varied projects, the path of a data consultant is for you!

You can learn everything else about the role in our full guide to becoming a data consultant.

Highest paying data analyst jobs: SQL developer

A SQL developer is a data analyst specializing in developing and optimizing SQL databases.

SQL developers are responsible for designing, coding, testing, debugging, and troubleshooting applications that use Structured Query Language (SQL). They also perform database administration tasks like creating tables, writing stored procedures, and maintaining data integrity.

With a strong understanding of relational databases and the ability to write complex SQL queries, a SQL developer is one of the highest paying jobs among data analysts. According to salary data from Indeed, the average salary for a SQL developer is about $88,626 per year.

Skillsets required by an SQL developer include:

  • Database architecture and data modeling
  • SQL query writing and optimization
  • Data transformation
  • Maintaining and troubleshooting issues
  • Database security and backup

Common tools used by a SQL developer include:

  • Relational databases (such as MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL Server)
  • Object-oriented programming languages (such as Java, C++)

A SQL developer typically has experience with using different databases and their respective SQL language syntaxes, making them well-suited for developing complex backend databases, used to store data from multiple sources.

If you’re looking for a job that involves crafting complex queries to get the most out of a relational database and applying your technical expertise to develop data-driven solutions, then SQL development is a great option for you.

Highest paying data analyst jobs: Operations research analyst

Operations research analysts are data analysts who specialize in using mathematics and analytics to solve complex problems in business, public policy, or healthcare.

These professionals use mathematical models to analyze data and generate solutions that can help improve processes and inform decisions.

With a deep understanding of statistical analysis tools like predictive modeling and optimization algorithms, operations research analysts can answer critical business questions or problems.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, operations research analysts tend to have some of the highest salaries among data analysts, with an average salary of $85,720 per year recorded in May 2022.

Common skills used by operations research analysts include:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Programming
  • Database querying
  • Data visualization

Common tools used by these professionals include:

  • Python 
  • SAS
  • SQL
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Power BI

If you’re looking for a job that involves applying your analytical skills to solve complex business problems, then operations research might be the right fit for you. With the potential to work in roles in a larger spectrum of applications, operations research can offer you many exciting opportunities.

4. What factors determine a data analyst’s salary

When choosing a career as a data analyst, it’s vital to understand what leads to a higher salary.

The factors that determine a data analyst’s salary are:

1. Education

Data analysts with higher levels of education, such as master’s or doctorate degrees, typically have higher salaries than those with only bachelor’s degrees. Certifications with credibility will also demonstrate dedication to upskilling or reskilling.

2. Technical skills

Data analysts with a mastery of coding languages, such as Python or R, have higher salaries than those who do not specialize in programming. The ability to create sophisticated data models and algorithms is also crucial for commanding a high salary.

Learning advanced technical skills takes time and effort, which leads to a low supply of analysts who can perform complex analyses. This would drive the salary of data analysts higher.

3. Industry

Different industries have different salary ranges for data analysts. For example, a data analyst working in the tech industry can expect to earn more than an analyst working in the healthcare industry. Data analysts in the finance space would also bring in higher salaries.

Related reading: Which industries have the highest paying data analyst jobs?

4. Location

Data analysts in large cities or areas with high demand for their skills can command higher salaries than those in rural or underserved areas.

However, with more data analysts working from home, this factor might become less significant through remote work.

5. Experience level

Years of experience in the field also factor into an analyst’s salary. With more years of experience and knowledge of advanced skills, hiring managers are more likely to recognize the value you bring to their business.

By understanding the factors determining a data analyst’s salary, you can make more informed decisions about choosing a career path and negotiating your salary.

5. How to get into data analytics

Data analytics is a rapidly growing field, and there are many opportunities to get into this field. To become a data analyst, you will need to have the right skills and knowledge, as well as the right attitude and dedication.

1. Gain a strong foundational education

A data analyst job requires a certain level of education and understanding. You’ll need to build up your knowledge base by taking suitable university courses, such as math, statistics, and computer science.

However, not everyone has the desire to pursue a four-year degree. Many people getting into the world of data these days get into it by taking on a data analytics bootcamp, which allows for more flexibility (if you’re already working), as well as a supported, expedited route into the field–especially when compared with the university route.

Pursuing a degree or taking on a data analyst bootcamp in any of these fields will give you an advantage when it comes to applying for jobs.

2. Apply technical skills to projects

A data analyst needs to have technical skills in programming languages and software, such as Python and R.

One way to gain experience is by completing personal projects with these tools. You can also gain real-world experience through internships or volunteering at local companies.

3. Brush up on soft skills and get certified 

Data analysts need to have strong communication, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills. Take time to practice your soft skills by participating in data hackathons/competitions.

Networking is beneficial for building soft skills in any career field, and data analytics is no exception. Participating in professional groups online or attending events can help you stay up to date on the latest trends in the field.

Additionally, obtaining certifications can differentiate you from other data analysts and demonstrate your commitment to the craft.

6. Next steps

A data analyst is an exciting career in tech with many opportunities for high-paying jobs. If you are looking for the highest paying data analyst jobs, consider reskilling and taking advantage of the opportunities available as a data consultant, SQL developer, or operations research analyst.

By gaining a solid foundational education, applying technical skills to projects, brushing up on soft skills, and obtaining certifications, you can boost your chances of landing one of these highest paying data analyst jobs!

Interested in getting into the world of data analytics? Why not try out our free, 5-day short course?

Check out one of these related articles to help you learn more:

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