Business Analytics vs Data Science

In the age of big data, parsing unwieldy amounts of information can lead to world-changing innovation.

To understand this data, companies are hiring a variety of specialists, including business analysts and data scientists.

Who Are They?

Business Analysts

Research and extract valuable information from structured and unstructured sources to explain historical, current, and future business performance: to determine the best analytical models and approaches to present and explain solutions to business users.

Data Scientists

Design, develop, and deploy algorithms through statistical programming that support business decision-making tools: manage large amounts of data; create visualizations to aid in understanding.

What Education Do They Have?

The majority of business analysts come from a variety of backgrounds including business and humanities, while data scientists tend to come from computer science, mathematics, and technology backgrounds.

Business Analysts

  • 30% have bachelor’s degrees
  • 56% have master’s degrees
  • 11% have doctoral degrees

Sample Undergraduate Majors

  • Business Administration
  • Information Technology
  • Finance
  • Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • History
  • Psychology

Data Scientists

  • 28% have bachelor’s degrees
  • 48% have master’s degrees
  • 20% have doctoral degrees

Sample Undergraduate Majors

  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Information Science
  • Computer Software Engineering
  • Technical Communications
  • Computer information Systems
  • Statistics

What Skills Do They Have?

Both business analysts and data scientists are experts in using data to inform decisions, but they apply their skills in different ways, using the same or similar tools. The skills listed below describe someone who has earned a master’s degree in the field.

Business Analysts

  • Decision making
    • Instigate change by transforming business insights from interdisciplinary data analysis into tangible resources for business decision-making.
  • Applied Problem Solving
    • Define business problems and translate statistical analysis into data-driven business intelligence that improves business performance.
  • Data Analysis
    • Research, interpret, and visualize raw data using predictive, prescriptive and descriptive analysis to make it useful and accessible for business users.
  • Analytical models
    • Understand, integrate, and prescribe solutions that use data modeling.
  • Database Management
    • Define and align database requirements for various forms of data, coded and not coded, using tools like Teradata, Oracle, and Hadoop.

Data Scientists

  • Decision-Making
    • Discover the opportunity in datasets by mining data and writing machine learning algorithms to support decision-making process.
  • Applied Problem Solving
    • Create the foundation of analysis by which an applied business can be solved.
  • Data Analysis
    • Manage and organize large sets of multivariate data using methods like linear discriminant analysis and multilinear regression selection.
  • Analytical Models
    • Experienced statistical programmers using languages like and tools such as SAS, SQL, R, SPSS, Python, and Knime.
  • Database Management
    • Design and structure databases using tools like Teradata, Oracle, and Hadoop.

Where Do They Work?

Business Analysts

  • 25% Finance and Insurance
  • 10% Computer systems design related services
  • 8% Manufacturing
  • 8% Management of companies and enterprises
  • 8% State and local government, excluding education and hospitals

Data Scientists

  • 26% Federal government
  • 18% Computer systems design and related services
  • 13% Colleges, universities, and professional schools
  • 11% Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences
  • 8% Software Publishers

Current job Outlook and Demand

Business Analysts

  • 73,200 total jobs
  • 27% job growth in 10 years
  • 19,500 new jobs by 2022

Data Scientists

  • 26,700 total jobs
  • 15% job growth in 10 years
  • 4,100 new jobs by 2022

To learn more about how you can earn your Master of Science in Analytics online from American University’s Kogod School of Business, visit



Kogod School of Business at American University

Phone Number: 855-572-2800
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