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Education

CCAC to offer two-year degrees in data analytics technology

Natasha Lindstrom
| Friday, June 16, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The job title may lack a certain zing, and it's probably not what most 5-year-olds want to be when they grow up.

For non-business folks who watched primetime TV in the '90s, it might even conjure up those scenes on “Friends” when nobody knew what their longtime buddy Chandler Bing did for a living.

But embarking on a career as a data analyst, data scientist or database manager is a surefire way to become among the nation's most-sought-after and highest-paid employees, industry data show.

With those benefits in mind, the Community College of Allegheny County announced that it's offering a new associate's degree of science program in data analytics technology . Courses begin this fall.

“The program was developed in collaboration with local employers to meet the growing need for trained analysts,” said Jeffrey Thomas, dean of academic affairs for CCAC's North Campus and West Hills Center.

According to Thomas, the addition makes CCAC the only college in the state and among “a handful of colleges in the country” to offer an associate's degree in data analytics. Westmoreland County Community College does not offer such a program nor similar types of courses, spokeswoman Pamela Hollick said.

CCAC officials described the new option as “a great choice for those with a head for problem-solving and an attention to detail.” They noted students who complete the degree could choose to pursue more advanced big-data skills through a related bachelor's degree and find openings across a wide range of sectors, including e-commerce, finance, government, health care and communications.

Students will learn about tools and methods for evaluating complex business scenarios, coordinating data analytics projects and pinpointing trends and correlations using large datasets. Coursework spans business, macroeconomics, introductory programming, statistics and data visualization.

Similar programs are increasingly popping up at community colleges nationwide and taking off at four-year universities, Inside Higher Ed reports .

Data scientist, data engineer and analytics manager were deemed among the top five jobs to have in 2017 , USA Today reported last month, based on an online survey measuring earning potential, employee satisfaction and job availability.

Analysts can start at salaries topping $50,000 to $70,000 a year, and the typical data scientist earns more than $120,000 annually, according to data by career websites Indeed.com and Glassdoor.

CNBC has gone as far as to dub data analyst the “sexiest job of the 21st century.”

So sorry, 1990s Rachel from “Friends,” but seems like Chandler gets the last laugh (His character, by the way, was an IT procurement manager specializing in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration. Not a ‘transpondster ').

Fall classes in CCAC's new data analytics technology degree program have opened for enrollment. For more information, go to CCAC.edu or call 412-369-3600.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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