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. (That’s 175 trillion gigabytes!)
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.
Pursuing a career as a health care data analyst: salary ranges and career outlook
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 as of February 2021, the average base health care data analyst salary was $64,449, but this can grow depending on experience. For example, PayScale further reports that analysts in the top 10th percentile reported annual earnings of more than $78,000.
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.
The work you do as a health care data analyst can prevent loss of life by identifying potential epidemics, and give your employer key insights that prompt them to take preventive action.
Health care data job opportunities for data analysts
Data analysts are highly sought-after professionals. Below are some typical job opportunities based on experience level, along with late 2020/early 2021 salary information from PayScale.
Entry-level job opportunities
All entry-level health care data jobs 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 the following:
Medical records and health information technician: $37,349 average salary
Cancer registrar: $45,068 average 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 jobs listed here.
Health care analyst: $65,590 average salary
Clinical data analyst: $69,743 average salary
Health care consultant with Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) skills: $77,500 average salary
Senior data analyst: $82,087 avearge salary
Health data analyst work environments
Health data analyst work environments span various industries and facilities. These are the most common:
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
How to become a health care data analyst
If you are an aspiring health care data specialist, you should understand what steps you can take to be more competitive in the field.
Aspiring health care data analysts must first develop the knowledge and skills to be successful. Most employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as math, statistics, computer science, or data science, among others. For career advancement, you might consider earning a master’s or even a Ph.D., depending on your long-term goals.
Data analytics is a field with many available certification programs. Although not generally required, professional certifications can give you a competitive edge and demonstrate that you have advanced expertise in this area. They can also be useful if you don’t yet have significant on-the-job experience. Certifications lend professional credibility to your resume and may lead to enhanced career opportunities.
Sample certification programs include the following:
Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP)
Certified Analytics Professional
IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
Microsoft Certified Data Analyst Associate
Open Certified Data Scientist
SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS9
Gaining experience in different areas of health care is advisable for aspiring health care data analysts. In the absence of experience, or as a complement to your experience, keep your knowledge and skills fresh through reading, research, and networking. The health care data analytics field is dynamic, so it’s important that you pay attention to current tools and trends.
Internships for health care data analysts
Applying 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 you'll need to have a high school diploma or GED to apply for an entry-level position. One thing to consider is that more advanced positions may require you to have 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:
Top skills and digital tools in the health care data analytics field
When preparing for a career as a health care data analyst, it's important to develop a skill set that makes you attractive to potential employers. Listed below are skills that are growing in demand.
Developing an attractive analytics skill set can make you an ideal candidate for top companies. According to research by Burning Glass Technologies, these are the nine skills with the highest growth potential in the analytics industry.
As a health care business analyst, you will also need superb communication skills to effectively interact with both medical professionals and health care administrators. A familiarity with HIPAA regulations is also expected to securely handle patient data.
In additional to these skills, companies also frequently look for health care data analysts with the following soft skills:
These are the top requested technical or specialized skills:
Top emerging skills
The top emerging skill in the analytics field is machine learning, which is projected to see a 104% increase in job postings 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:
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.
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 new 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.
A promising career path
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.
Continuous learning is essential, since technology will continually affect how you do your job — no matter the industry.