In a world where correct data analysis is becoming more and more crucial for businesses and their growth, so too has the role of a senior data analyst.
After all, let’s be clear: the process of data mining is not for the faint of heart nor is it for amateurs.
Many tech companies depend on data analysts to make informed strategic decisions that impact the future of their business. Irrespective of company size, one false conclusion could lead to ramifications that make the difference between whether a business sinks, swims, or merely floats in the turbulent waves of its industry.
Consequently, the more expertise a data analyst has in their field, the more valuable they are for a business, a fact which naturally leads to better compensation in comparison to junior positions within the area.
That said, while it’s expected that data analysts score more than their junior counterparts, the question still remains: how much more?
This is exactly what I’m going to be looking at in this blog post.
Learn more about the vast world of data analytics and what senior analysts do, weighing their responsibilities, experience, rank, and location to identify what these professionals ought to be paid.
Let’s dive in.
Senior Data Analyst Average Salary
According to data shared by Payscale, the average senior data analyst salary in the United States is $81,301.
However, the same data indicates that there are two extremes on the salary scale. On the lower end of the spectrum, a senior data analyst reels in around $61,000. However, on the higher end, they can bring in as much as $109K annually.
With a margin of some $48K between the lowest and highest national averages offered by Payscale, it is obvious that there are many factors that affect how a senior data analyst’s profile is evaluated in order to determine compensation.
How Experience Affects A Senior Data Analyst’s Salary
In as much as the average base salary stands within the 61K-75K threshold, experience plays a significant role in how much more a data analyst can rack.
Let’s examine how that pans out in a real context utilizing estimates provided by PayScale.
Based on recent senior data analyst salaries shared by PayScale, an expert analyst who can prove at least one year’s worth of experience in a similar senior role is expected to rake in roughly $72K annually.
Naturally, the more years of experience they have, the more their salary goes up.
As is evidenced in the graph, after four years worth of experience, the average salary of an experienced data analyst goes up incrementally, reaching a peak of $92K annually after 20 years in the field.
This implies that, on average, after 20 years of working, a senior data analyst can bring in a comfortable $92K every year.
How Location Affects Data Analyst Salary
Apart from experience, another factor which plays a role in determining the salary of a senior data analyst is where they are based.
As is indicated in the graph above provided by PayScale, in the United States, there are certain states where the average wage of a senior data analyst either surpasses that of the national mean, or falls below it.
For example, in San Francisco, the average salary for a senior data analyst increases by 34% of the average national salary.
On the other hand, in areas such as Georgia and Illinois, salaries can drop to 5% below the mean salary.
It goes without saying that while a senior data analyst can rack in an impressive salary, where they live will be a telling factor in how much more or less they can expect to get.
Senior Data Analyst Salary Key Takeaways
In summary, there is no clear-cut yellow brick road when it comes to determining how much a senior data analyst makes.
Factors such as experience, location, and the hiring company play a significant role in determining the exact figure that a senior data analyst takes home.
Whether you are just starting your career path or are looking to compare and contrast your current salary with what the rest of the market is getting, here are a few tips to bear in mind when considering salary ranges:
- Take a close look at what some of the in-demand skills are for the job title being advertised. Compare them to the skills and qualifications that you have acquired over the years.
- Use platforms such as PayScale, Glassdoor, and Google to search for salaries of senior data analysts that match your experience and location.
- Browse through product managers, marketing managers, operations managers, product managers, project managers, and recruiters that have published senior data analyst jobs or related jobs on behalf of their company. Check to see whether they explicitly include the salary that they are offering.
Needless to say, the cash compensation highlighted in these salaries do not reflect the total compensation that senior data analysts can make.
All in all, it’s your job to set expectations based on your specific profile so you can secure the package that you deserve.
What Role Does A Senior Data Analyst Play In A Company?
A senior data analyst is a professional with ample expertise in compiling, sifting, and analyzing a batch of data with the objective of drawing conclusions about said data based on pattern recognition and logical thinking.
In short, the role of a senior data analyst involves stripping down a business’ complex and dense data into a comprehensive and unambiguous format which is then brought forward to the relevant parties who need to access them. To be more concrete, these parties include the company’s stakeholders, investors, executives, and board of directors.
In the case of a senior data analyst, particular emphasis is placed on the quality and consistency associated with the results obtained through the data analysis process.
This is because unlike a junior data analyst, this type of professional has amassed sufficient professional experience that would minimize the chances of elementary data analytical errors and, in turn, increase the overall grade of the final conclusions that are drawn.
Just like their entry-level counterparts, a senior data analyst has four data analysis processes at their disposal. They may use either one of these four processes to arrive at the actionable insights which are expected from them given their profile.
These processes include:
- Predictive Analytics: When a senior data analyst applies predictive analytics, their ultimate goal is to forecast a possible occurrence based on the way that data has presented itself over a period of time. To be specific, the data analyst uses a combination of trends, patterns, and propensities that are drawn from the data presented to the analyst.
- Diagnostic Analytics: Unlike predictive analytics, diagnostic analytics seeks to understand what were the agents that caused a particular course of action to take place.
- Prescriptive Analytics: This type of analysis is entirely solution-oriented. In other words, by examining existing data, the analyst’s purpose is to identify a solution for a problem that has already been identified.
- Descriptive Analytics: Within the framework established in business analytics, descriptive analytics seeks to document and present the agents which caused something to happen.
Due to the similarities in profile, it is not uncommon for one to mix up data analysts with senior business analysts and senior data scientists.
To be clear, a senior business analyst (also known as a business intelligence developer, business intelligence analyst, senior financial analyst, or analytics manager) is responsible for offering strategic consultancy to a company based on data that has been presented to the company.
Similarly, senior data scientists are professionals in data science who sift through company data to present opportunities that a business may capitalize on or weaknesses that they may need to improve. The role of a data analyst does not encompass this.
On the contrary, they break down complicated data and present it to those who need to access it so that they can make decisions for their business.
What Responsibilities Does A Senior Data Analyst Assume?
To attempt to make mention of the exact responsibilities that a senior data analyst must carry out would be mission impossible.
After all, while there are many senior data analysts out there, each one works for a different company that has its own unique way of doing things.
Therefore, it is only natural that there are discrepancies in the exact tasks that a senior data analyst does in one company compared to another.
However, generally speaking, it is fair to say that there are some responsibilities that senior data analysts share throughout the world, such as:
- Expert report generation: As is expected of their professional profile, data analysts are supposed to organize the conclusions that they have been able to draw after dissecting data in a format that is understandable and easily accessible. This is important as, irrespective of how good the quality of analysis is, if the board of directors can’t understand what you’re saying, then your efforts are in vain. Therefore, the simplest and most common way for senior data analysts to present their work is via a report. This format implies compiling conclusions together, supporting each one with the relevant evidence taken from the data analysis.
- High capabilities in pattern recognition: Additionally, a senior data analyst is expected to apply a mastery of pattern recognition to their tasks. While the depth to which they will delve into pattern recognition depends on the type of data analysis done, to some degree or another, a senior data analyst needs to determine what trends are seen in a business in order to draw particular conclusions.
- Master of data storage and retrieval: Due to their seniority, an expert data analyst should know the best way to store and retrieve data for easy access. This type of responsibility is the most technically demanding of them all. Consequently, a senior data analyst is expected to have dexterity in software tools such as databases, Machine Learning/Python, and Microsoft Excel to guarantee data visualization.
What Requirements Are Needed To Become A Senior Data Analyst?
Similar to their responsibilities, when it comes to requirements, there is no clear-cut way to determine what is needed for a senior data analyst to achieve their rank.
That said, as we have done previously, generally speaking, there are some indicators that can be applied to a data analyst to determine when they have achieved the role of seniority.
To begin, a senior data analyst needs to display mastery over both technical and analytical skills.
This encompasses their ability to break down and evaluate sets of data and extract the relevant conclusions, reducing the margin for errors as much as humanly possible.
What’s more, apart from experience in data analytics, it is common for a senior data analyst to have an academic background that is research-based.
Usually, a data analyst has a prominent academic background that is research-oriented. Since their work is research-based, a senior data analyst usually has at least a Master's degree preferably in Data Analytics, Statistical Analysis, Computer Science, Big Data, or Mathematics. That said, a data analyst with a Bachelor's degree who is highly experienced may also be considered for a senior role.
Josh Fechter is the founder of The Product Company and a partner at Product Manager HQ.