One of the fastest rising areas in IT is big data. The sheer demand for this field is driving wages and salaries through the roof and many IT professionals are moving into big data jobs for a change from their normal routine. It is estimated that there will be over 56,000 job opportunities created on an annual basis for the next five years, which is far above the national average growth of about 6% during that same period. It is quite easy to see why so many are flocking to the field in droves, but why is it such a booming area?

Why are data analysts in high demand?

The numbers
Over the past five years, big data projects have increased to more than ten times their original output and more than 21,000 professionals were hired for various positions in 2013. This demand was simply unable to be kept up with and average salaries raised to an incredible £55,000, which is 24% more than the average professional IT position. With so few professionals involved in the field, many recruitment agencies and hiring managers struggled to fill big data positions. Data analytics is largely an untapped market until recent attempts by the government to help develop data handling skills at lower levels, so younger workers would have the skills to succeed in the field.

The SAS' involvement
SAS, a UK analytics company, touted big data as being the ‘new oil’ of today's generation. With more businesses seeking to harness the power of data-based information to make more informed and quicker decisions regarding various operational matters. The company has already invested more than £100m in British education in the hope of grooming big data professionals at an earlier stage and they are currently offering student editions of analytical software to those currently enrolled on big data education programmes. 

Current demand
Even with the SAS' involvement on the academic and professional development of new big data specialists, the overall demand for these positions is still greatly on the rise with a 41% jump observed on an annual basis since 2013 and general IT professional staff declining roughly 9%. This is because businesses are seeking to use data assets to their advantage and require handling specialists to perform the necessary operations of harvesting data. It is even ranked as one of the most demanded positions amongst architects, administrators and analysts. 

Over 96% of all of these job opportunities were advertised in English cities in 2013 with the vast majority being based in London (63%) followed closely by other nearby regions in the South East (12%). Just five percent of all of these positions were in the North West, followed by four percent in Yorkshire and the South West respectively. 

Many of these positions were segmented into financial services, where fraud prevention, price modelling, and overall risk management could harness the power of big data. Banking was commonly cited in these ads. However, it is by no means the only sector hiring big data professionals. Retail is also an industry that needs data analysts, with roughly 4% of all job postings citing retail requirements for big data professionals.

Outlook
It is obvious that those seeking big data jobs will be required to head to the South East in order to seek the biggest opportunities in the field; with the majority of professionals heading to London. This can be great for those already in the city, but it may call for relocation from others. Similarly, it would be wise for big data experts to have their heads in the financial sector. This is likely to be suitable for those who could compliment IT studies with accounting, finance, economics or other maths-based majors as part of their degrees. 

This is not a field that is likely to disappear anytime soon given the strong boom it is experiencing and commitment to the development of younger minds that larger companies are influencing. With government backing, this is likely to be something that thrives into the future and is always likely to experience some degree of demand given its essential nature to the core operation of some businesses, like banks and supermarkets, of which both are necessities to life in the United Kingdom.