Big Data Expert
You may well ask what is 'big data', and why is it 'big'? Well, big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that businesses generate on a day-to-day basis. It is not the amount of data that’s important - it’s how organisations use this data that really matters. Clever organisations are the ones that are beginning to use this data in order to better understand the market in which they operate and to gain insights that lead to better business decisions.
Also known as
- Big Data Engineer
In our digitally connected world, everything we do can be tracked and stored as data. This includes:
- the TV shows we like to watch
- health issues
- traffic management
- the restaurants we like to go to
- who we find attractive
- where we like to go on holiday
- which supermarket brands we buy
All organisations and businesses will need someone who understands data. As a Big Data Expert, you will help your organisation to gather, structure and use this data to help make informed decisions. For example, retail data will enable you to provide a smarter shopping experience. This includes promoting and pricing the products that people want to buy.
You will use specialist big data software platforms or databases, such as Hadoop, 1010data, Actian, Amazon Web Services, Hive, Yarn, and Cloudera - and there are many more.
The big data that you gather can be split into four different types, each one with its own value to your organisation:
- prescriptive - what actions should you be taking?
- predictive - what might happen?
- diagnostic - looking at your past performance - what happened, and why?
- descriptive - what is happening right now according to your data?
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Big Data Expert, you will need to:
- be good with numbers
- have great IT skills, including being familiar with databases and query languages
- have good analytical skills
- be good at solving problems
- be able to work to deadlines
- pay attention to details and accuracy
- have great teamworking skills
- be willing to keep up to date with any changes in data protection laws and the latest database technologies
- have excellent communication skills, and to be able to explain technical issues to non-technical people
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £33,500 - £37,000
- With experience: £41,000 - £50,000
- Senior Big Data Experts earn £55,500 - £62,000
Where could I work?
Employers will be in every sector of industry and commerce, including banks, building societies, insurance companies and others in the finance sector, and in public service (e.g. local and central government departments).
Opportunities for Big Data Experts will occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
This career could include working for an
Entry Routes and Training
Some employers will require you to have a degree before you become a Big Data Expert. Degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities, and this is expected to increase.
In order to get onto a degree course, you will usually need at least two A levels. An A level in an IT-based subject would be a great help.
Another option is to get onto a Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area. Take a look at our information article
So now is a great time to start planning your route through to university. IT-based subjects at GCSE and A level would help you to stand out. Also, try to get as much experience of working with databases as you can. This could be through work experience, a part-time job, or maybe at school or college.
One way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
If you want to do some training, City & Guilds offer a level 3 qualification in ICT professional competence. This course has a range of units, including data modelling.
Other courses could be available in your area.
Previous experience working in a statistical or mathematical environment would be really useful for this career.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least two A levels.
For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and maths at GCSE
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, course requirements vary so check college/university websites very carefully.
Some universities accept the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to one A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing an Access course, for example, Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to enter an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.
A foundation year before the start of a science degree is available at some universities and higher education colleges for students who don't have the science A levels usually needed for entry to the course.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT
Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 0845 3004417
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales