Have you ever wondered how Netflix recommends movies to you, epidemiologists predict the spread of infectious diseases, or companies know how much inventory to buy? They employ data analysts to interpret and review patterns in data, report trends and probabilities and then make strategic business decisions based on that information. The demand for data analysts is growing rapidly as companies ranging from business, finance, science, medicine, government, entertainment, and much more are collecting more and more data and need employees skilled at interpreting it.
The increased collection of data has created a need for more data professionals in the workforce. According to Lightcast, annual job postings for data analysts in Washington doubled from 2017 to 2022. The median salary advertised by employers during the last year was $86,000.
Edmonds College has launched a new program to meet the region’s demand for data analytics professionals. The program is intended for students just getting started in the industry, is designed for those with no programming experience, and does not require a deep background in math. Students will earn a certificate of completion and gain the skills to obtain an entry-level job in data analytics.
“We will cover the basics of statistics and spreadsheets because we’re assuming that most of our students have not taken college math classes in several years,” said Allison Obourn, an instructor in the new program and a computer science faculty member at Edmonds College. “We don’t want people to be scared off by the math or programming aspects. We are expecting no programming experience whatsoever. We expect our students to have minimal experience with statistics.”
Prerequisites for the program include having a basic working knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet programs, completion of a college-level pre-calculus or statistics class or instructor permission, and an associate degree in STEM or business or equivalent work experience. Classes start on Oct. 3, so there is still time for students to register.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for people who are already in the workforce but want to switch gears or grow within their company by adding more skills,” said Obourn. “Frankly, many people are being asked to do data analytics in their jobs, and they don’t know how. Our program paves the way to help them gain those skills.”
Industry experts helped design the curriculum, ensuring students learn about topics relevant to the local industry. Students will learn to effectively communicate critical components of data analysis, data collection and processing, hypothesis development and statistical analysis, data modeling, and synthesis.
Faculty developed the program with the busy lives of its students in mind. Students can complete the program quickly and have flexible options by taking classes online, hybrid, and in the evenings. The program is affordable, as Washington residents can earn a certificate for under $2,300. Similar online programs can cost nearly $16,000.
Data analytics is the latest program launched by Edmonds College designed to provide quick, professional training for its students and meet industry needs in the community. The school introduced its dental assistant program earlier this summer and launched FastTrack, a series of certification programs that provide training in six months or less.
“Edmonds College recognizes that many people seeking employment in the community are looking for flexible routes to gain professional training,” said Edmonds College President Dr. Amit B. Singh. “They want to enter the workforce quickly and earn living wages with good benefits for their families. We are providing options for students to get the training they desire. We will continue to take a forward-thinking, innovative approach to higher education to help meet the needs of our students and the industries in our community.”