Your path to a career as a health care data analyst
Data and business analysis are high-demand fields experiencing rapid growth. By one estimate, up to 175 zettabytes of data will need to be analyzed by 2025.
A health care data analyst gathers, analyzes, and interprets data. They then compile this data into visual presentations that are easy to understand, allowing administrative officials to take informed actions.
Keep reading to determine whether this career path is right for you.
Why pursue a career as a health care data analyst?
There are many career opportunities for data and business analysts to choose from, though working in the health care industry offers many unique benefits.
Plentiful job opportunities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that health care industry employment will grow by 15% from 2019 to 2029, adding 2.4 million jobs during this time.
In 2019, data analyst jobs were filled the fastest compared to other job postings in the analytics industry. The number of job postings for business analyst was higher than the ￼other analyst titles listed in the chart below:
The combination of growth in the health care industry along with the need for business and data analysts illustrates an appealing career path for these disciplines.
PayScale reports that entry-level health care data analysts can earn up to $58,809 a year. The average health care analyst’s salary naturally grows with experience.
Late-career professionals have the potential to earn an average annual salary of $75,000.
Opportunity to improve the health care industry and patient care
Health care data analysts don’t interact directly with patients, but you can still have a valuable impact on the industry at a broader level. Your ability to identify trends can enable health care organizations to provide faster and better services for patients.
Health care business analysts also provide hospitals, doctors, and nurses with meaningful insight. This will inform them about long-term needs so they can adequately prepare to meet those demands in the future.
Your data collection and analysis efforts can prevent loss of life by identifying potential epidemics, and you can enable your employer to take preventive action.
Industry trends for health care data analysts
As technology continues to advance rapidly, health care analysts can expect to see many technological changes and improvements in their industry.
As data analysts provide up-to-date information on patients and trends, they will immediately make this information available to doctors and nurses. This allows health care providers to offer the best, most efficient treatment.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already helping medical professionals provide accurate diagnoses and develop new drugs. However, AI can’t move health care into the future on its own. Like all computerized applications, it relies on consistently updated data and management to do its job.
As a health care business analyst, your work will give medical companies and care providers the knowledge they need to improve existing treatments and develop fresh ones. As the role of AI in health care grows, feeding it accurate data will become more important than ever before.
Using data to predict future medical trends is nothing new. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used data to track the spread of Ebola in 2014 and COVID-19 in 2020, and Google uses it to monitor and predict outbreaks.  
Health care data analysts can expect this trend to become increasingly common. Medical care providers — and the public — will expect accurate health care data that enables care providers to take decisive action based on reliable predictions.
Areas of opportunity for health care data analysts
Health care data analysts can find work in various industries and facilities. The most common ones are:
Health care organizations (hospitals, clinics, and private practices)
Health insurance companies
Electronic health record companies
Health care consulting companies
Nonprofit health care organizations
State and federal government organizations
What types of jobs are available to health care data analysts?
Data analysts are highly sought-after professionals. Below are some job opportunities typically available based on your level of experience.
Initial job opportunities
All entry-level job opportunities require some postsecondary education. Sometimes, a certificate program will suffice; in other cases, you’ll need an associate degree to get your foot in the door. Jobs include:
Medical records and health information technician: $42,630 average annual salary
Cancer registrar: $38,459 average annual salary
Advanced opportunities for health care data analysts
In some circumstances, a master’s degree is required along with prior on-the-job experience as a health care data analyst or similar role. However, at minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to apply for any of the following job opportunities:
Health care analyst: $63,524 average annual salary
Clinical data analyst: $67,417 average annual salary
Health care consultant with Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) skills: $83,194
Senior data analyst: $80,914
Top skills and digital tools in the health care data analytics field
A combination of skills matched with what employers are looking for now and in the future will help you prepare for a rewarding career as a health care data analyst. Listed below are skills that are growing in demand.
Developing an attractive analytics skill set will make you an ideal candidate for top companies. According to Burning Glass Research, these are the nine skills with the highest growth potential in the analytics industry.
A health care business analyst will also need superb communication skills to effectively interact with both medical professionals and health care administrators. In addition, he or she will need to be familiar with HIPAA regulations to securely handle patient data.
In additional to these skills, companies also frequently look for health care data analysts with the following soft skills:
The top requested technical or specialized skills are:
Top emerging skills
The top emerging skill in the analytics field is machine learning, which is projected to see a 238% increase in job posting growth through 2023.
Machine learning is becoming an important part of health care management. Health care data analysts are expected to become more familiar with its application as it relates to their ability to gather and interpret health data.
Health care data analysts look at and manage large amounts of data. The following tools are growing in popularity in this field:
Internships for health care data analysts
Signing up for an internship is a great way to build a network of professional contacts and gain on-the-job experience. ￼You won’t be expected to have a wealth of experience, but those applying for an entry-level position will need to have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, applicants for more advanced positions may need an associate degree.
Since data analysts are in high demand, many companies offer internship opportunities. Such companies include, but aren’t limited to:
As a health care data analyst, you’ll need to stay informed about medical and technological developments. Thankfully, there are many ways to do that without pausing your career to study full time. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a great source of up-to-date information for beginner and experienced health care data analysts alike. Alternatively, you may want to consider joining one or more of the following organizations:
The outlook for health care data analysts is bright. As the BLS notes, health care is a rapidly growing field in the United States, with the nation’s aging population requiring increased medical care and assistance. Data analysis is also growing quickly, with many potential job opportunities in various industries.
Ongoing learning is a necessity, as technology will continually affect how you do your job, no matter where you work.