Analytics Career Advice: Job Titles, Salaries, Technical & Business Roles

directionsMichael, politely, says in an email:

"I have done web analytics for five years, I have mastered Omniture, WebTrends and Google Analytics, I provide analysis and not just reporting. I feel like am an Analytics God.

What would be your advice for me in terms of next steps for my career? My goal is to climb the ranks and increase my salary."

Let me hasten to add two things.

Michael is not his real name.

Modesty aside, :), Michael is good at what he does.

I get many emails in the spirit of this one and thought it was about time I wrote a proper post about it.

Another reason for writing the post now is that it is always a good time to think about your career path, but never more so than the current economic circumstances. Some of you face tough times, some might get laid off [see end of this post], some might make opportunistic leaps. Either way good time to ponder, do some self reflection and make a conscious choice.

unique youBefore we get going some assumptions I am making:

1) You are an "Analyst" (Senior, Junior whatever). Or atleast 40% of the time you are a true Analysis Ninja, even if 60% of the time you are a glorified Reporting Squirrel!

2) You might have some project / task management experience, your leadership experience is limited to that.

3) I am simply assuming you are good at tools and some technical stuff and some business stuff. When Michael says he is good at Analytics his stress is on his mastery of javascript tags, his rich understanding of evars and sprops and complex 60 kb Omniture tags. He can implement anything in his sleep.

4) You realize that there is more to life than creating reports and trying to explain KPI's. It is ok to want more money and be aggressive about your career but know that it won't happen unless you vastly expand your horizon on the work you'll do (and how hard it will be).

Update: 5) You are at a mid to large/bigger company. Please see this comment for context around why.

Every Web Analyst (or really Business Analyst) of any sort finds themselves at that critical point. Have been doing analysis for a while, now where does my career lead me?

left or right

The first and perhaps most important thing to realize that you have to make two very important very critical very life impacting choices:

Choice 1: Business or Technical.

Choice 2: Individual Contributor or Team Leader.

Each choice will help propel your career in a different direction (slope and length). Typically we don't think that you have those choices (we all want to jump to Director / VP and get the chq, not so fast buster!).

Do some introspection.

Here's the Avinash Kaushik Web Analytics Career Introspection Guide! Answer these questions:

#1. Do you like being a Individual Contributor?
Think these things through: Master of my domain. Controller of my destiny. I like setting agendas, let other people deal with people who have to do it. Truly am at peace with my introvert self. And so on and so forth. Be honest with yourself.

#2. Do you like managing people?
You rejoice at the prospect at helping mold people's careers. Motivating them. Solving their personal problems. The prospect of collecting self reviews and getting 360 degree feedback and writing a performance review for each of your employee each quarter does not make you want to jump off the building. You see a matrixed bureaucratic organization and like President Bush you say "bring it on!".

meditate

#3. Are your true "Analyst" skills your massive mastery of how to solve every technical problem with every tool and how to implement anything and you could decode and reconstruct the debugging tool WASP in two days? You can hack the Google Analytics tag to capture people's underwear size and color.

#4. Are your true "Analyst" skills your understand of your company's business strategy, your mastery at translating "measure something" from a VP to three Critical Few metrics that bedazzle her, your ability to understand the long tail and get a ah ha moment that revolutionizes how you understand and measure of your search campaigns?

I am getting to how you can increase your salary part. Please stick with me.

Answering the above four questions honestly and critically is much harder than you think. Trust me on that.

At Intuit I truly learned the value of self awareness. Steve Bennett prioritized Management development (I'll be eternally grateful to him for that) and my friend Scott Wilder really got me going on this path by doing my Enneagram assessment (MBTI is too shallow).

reflectionTo me self awareness is the process of figuring out what you are truly good at, and really truly knowing (and accepting) what you are not good at. It takes time to get going, and is more of a lifetime journey and less a destination. It comes with great benefits. For example, I have learnt to maximize my being in roles / situations where my strengths will boost success.

Your answers to the four questions will ensure that you don't end up in a job that 1) you'll hate or 2) where very quickly you'll rise to your level of incompetence.

There are jobs, based on your choices above, either in companies or, many people forget this, at web analytics vendors.

If you want to have a move your career forward in web analytics (from a Metrics Analyst) here are the four options for you (and yes they all will help you make more money, some more than others):

|1| Technical Individual Contributor.

A lot of people wrongly believe that to make lots of money you have to get into Management (technical or business). This is totally wrong. For the longest time, for example, I was well compensated for being a Senior Individual Contributor.

Roles in this category would include: Sr. Project Manager. Sr. Architect. Implementation God. Sr. Tech Lead. Tech Demo God (usually at a Vendor). And more.

For this role at a client (company) world the common theme in this role is that you report up to a Director or a VP and you get to set policy, rules and regulation, only have, if at all, the barest of dotted line responsibility for project implementations, you might be the master liaison with the business team and your vendor to make sure technically all that is supposed to be happening with the technical tag hacking and tool hacking is happening.

technically savvy

This role in the vendor world you get to go to various clients and show off cool detailed stuff that your VP of Marketing consistently screwed up so far and answer technical questions from wise guys. You might also be the one man army tapped to do rapid prototyping to prove you are better than Google Analytics (!), or it is likely that you are the point of contact for the first sixty days for a new client when your company is trying to impress the client by providing fast help (as the payment chq has not yet cleared). Make no mistake this can be fun, you get to travel, meet new companies and people.

It is quite likely that you'll sit in the IT (CTO / CIO) function.

Career Prospects:

Pretty sound in large to larger companies. They can afford such a person in a dedicated manner. In a vendor world (say Omniture, WebTrends, ClickTracks, CoreMetrics etc) you probably have a lot more jobs of this type. It would be harder to find these roles in medium to large companies.

$$$ Prospects:

Anything from $40k to $100k (or more, at vendors). It is hard to find people who are really really good at this. If you are one of them you are in demand.

Long Term Job Title Growth:

This ones a bit dicey. If you stick to web analytics your title might tap out at one of the titles mentioned above (say Sr. of this of that or Architect) – remember that does not mean there isn't a long future and plenty of hay to be made.

If you really want to have your Job Title grow a lot more then you'll have to gradually move to the world of Business Analytics (not web) and Business Intelligence roles in IT. Both of these not just provide individual contributor title growth, they provide for easier switches to other leadership roles (should you show promise).

|2| Business Individual Contributor.

If you are a Analyst today you are in a individual contributor role on the business side (if you are a Web Analyst in IT the best career move you could make for yourself is to get moved to Marketing – or a business function, it is really hard to have a strong Analyst – not reporting squirrel – role in IT).

smart analyst 2Roles for you on the business side in this category would include: Sr. Analyst. Internal Evangelist. SPOC for CMO / CEO dashboards (supreme analysis). Central Business Liaison (for a large business, focus on getting people to implement web analytics and get going). Strategic Solutions Consultant (clearly with hype like that this a role at a vendor!). Product Genius (at a vendor, perhaps Apple :).

For this role at a company (client) the role can report to anyone from a Director to the CMO. Your job is heavily business focused – understand various businesses and their strategy and provide über analysis (pan business function) or create dashboards or be in charge of rolling Omniture across 90 business sites (beat them up until accomplished).

There are a rare few roles where you can become the internal Analytics Champion, I did this for a while. You are good at your analytics "game" but you are also a strong business person (I hate to say this but MBA / "strategic" type). You get to go around and work with VP's, CMO's and Sr. Leaders and identify measurements strategies for their impossible to answer questions (often they don't know how ease these are so you totally look like a hero). As an Evangelist you pull your organization up by the bootstraps (quite gratifying).

This role in a vendor world can mean you are a product manager of the analytics product, you are a project manager for certain features, you are a professional services rep (sorry, "Strategic Solutions Consultant") and roles like that. No one does Marketing (with a pinch of hype :) like Omniture, this excellent page on their site will help you understand what a business individual contributor role might look like at any vendor: Omniture Consulting.

For many of you there is also a option of a role I play now, an Evangelist. A business individual contributor role with significant influence over the vision and the product, as well as an opportunity to impact the external Analytics ecosystem.

Career Prospects:

Except for small companies you have lots of room to grow in this role before you hit a ceiling. Either at a company or a vendor. The only condition is that your have to be a very very strong business person. Understanding ecosystem. Business strategy. Trinity type execution of measurement. Smooth talker (sorry, "effective communicator") etc. Your deep understanding of statistics etc is not required. Javascript hacking skills are optional. If your strength is technical see the role above, or the one below, and you won't hit the ceiling in six months.

$$$ Prospects:

Anything from $70k to $120k (or more, at vendors or companies). From my humble experience in our little world, less than 10% of the people in our field truly have the skills to do this well. If you are one, congratulations.

Long Term Job Title Growth:

One nice thing about being a Individual Contributor on the business side is that you are afforded a lot more flexibility. To become a internal consultant on business analytics projects (beyond web analytics). To even switch to leadership role (team management). To tackle other complex things for a company, like creating a "data strategy" or becoming the chief privacy officer (a individual contributor role) etc.

On the vendor side you also have a lot more opportunities to have job title growth (remember that comes with increased responsibilities). My friend Matt Belkin at Omniture is a good example of this, over the years he has had a fantastic career there.

|3| Technical Team Leader.

Roles in this category would include: Manager, Analytics Implementation. Sr. Manager, Website Analytics. Group Manager, Web Operations Reporting. And still rare but sometimes: Manager, Web Analytics Data Warehouse (Steven I did not forget you!).

leader of the pack

In the early genesis of web analytics, in the good old days, it was owned by IT this role was a lot more prominent in companies. Having WebTrends almost mandated that. The shift to ASP (javascript based) solutions (crediting HBX here) caused a shift of web analytics to the business side (an excellent outcome). It also eliminated the need to have a large IT staff to support web analytics.

An example is six years ago when I took over web analytics there was a four person team (one leader, three direct reports) in IT supporting just running WebTrends internally and churning 200 reports out. The shift to a asp based solution meant only one job remained and it became that of a Sr. Technical Individual Contributor (and I was lucky to have a very good one!). The other jobs were evolved or replaced with people who did analysis not reporting (an efficient use if there ever was one).

Roles in a company setting would be reporting up to Sr. Manager or Director (or rarely VP/CIO levels). Often you'll find yourself in the Business Analytics team in the CIO / CTO function, you take care of that "web data". :) In some companies there is also sometimes a role in the Web Analytics team that is in Marketing (/business) where you can carve out a nice technical team lead career (reporting to the Director of Web Research & Analytics :).

Roles at a vendor probably have a lot more technical team lead opportunities. Managing technical aspect of the analytics product or managing the technical army of consultants or things like that.

It goes without saying that this role requires something really really hard: Your ability to leave your leave your lone ranger mentality and the deep rooted habit of just doing all the technical stuff yourself (yes you are sooo good at this stuff and you don't trust other people's code).

motivate 1

It is harder for technically oriented people to blossom into people managers, but really that's what you are signing up to do. You are going to have to be comfortable with some of your awesome hacker skills getting rusty as your leadership skills (and delegation!) mature.

Career Prospects:

If your company is using a ASP based solution (Analytics or IndexTools or Unica etc) then be aware of the aforementioned fundamental shift and the limiting impact of that on your career if you make this choice.

Some companies have inhouse (hosted) solutions (javascript tag based or log file based). In this case there is still a need for a robust multi person technical team inhouse. The opportunities are a lot less, but in those cases you can have a web analytics technical team leader role that will last a while.

You are going to live or die with your ability to inspire and motivate people, not your ability to write code or keep systems up. If you are in a Technical Team Leader role then that more than anything else will limit how much you can grow.

$$$ Prospects:

Anything from $50k to $100k (or maybe more for inhouse WA DW type roles).

Long Term Job Title Growth:

Not too much if your company is in the ASP based model (and remember ASP is not just for WA, it is now for testing, behavior targeting, surveys, electric shocks, everything!).

For inhouse implementations (or DW extensions) you can expect nice growth. Both if you stick with WA or moving to say taking over technical leadership roles on the CRM side or Supply Chain or ERP side of things.

Good technical team leaders are hard to find, if your technical skills today are awesome and you are willing to truly grow your people management skills you'll be God. [Related post: Three “Spire’s” of Great Leadership.]

|4| Business Team Leader.

When people think of making more money in web analytics jobs, 99% of the time this is the role they are thinking of. [Might I just quickly again encourage you to use the Avinash Kaushik Web Analytics Career Introspection Guide first.]

business leaderRoles in this category include: Sr. Manager, Web Analytics. Director, Web Research & Analytics. Manager, Web Metrics. Team Lead, CoreMetrics Reporting. Group Manager, Analytics & Optimization. Etc.

This role in a company setting is increasingly reporting to Sr. Directors, VP's or, in companies that get it, the CMO. Ideal candidates were Analysis Ninja's of supreme kind and have shown streaks of good people leadership skills. They are motivators, can inspire confidence, are inherently unselfish (key for leading people) and have the ability to charm the pants of Sr. Management (though come to think of it that might be a HR violation!).

I cannot overstate this enough: Ideally you have grown from a Reporting Squirrel to an Analysis Ninja, but your hard core technical skills are vastly overrated in this role. As is your ability to be, say, a Excel Master Blackbelt. Remember, you inspire and you lead.

This role, in a pure web analytics leader fashion, is a lot less needed or visible or available in a Vendor setting (unlike the other three above). Vendors need to mostly sell. Perhaps to analyze nedstat.com or unica.com for internal use. Or perhaps as a business lead for the $300 per hour consulting arm.

Career Prospects:

You have lots of room to grow here. If anything web analytics is becoming more serious for lots of companies (damn the temporary recession!). Having had just Squirrels manage web analytics any company worth anything is looking to put solid leadership in place.

Your limitation will be if you stay with just Web Analytics (clickstream) or you have an ability to truly do Web Analytics 2.0 (move beyond clickstream). You do the latter and you won't run into ceiling anytime soon.

carrot and stick 1If you do hit the Director of Web Research & Analytics (or VP in a large company – title inflation :)) then you might hit limits. Your option then is to shift to being a business leader and run a business. Or other such options.

$$$ Prospects:

Anything from $90k to $170k (or more). The nice thing is strong people leaders with analytical minds are the rarest of rare in corporate America (not quite as rare as a Tenrec but close). If you are good you have no limits.

Long Term Job Title Growth:

If you want to stay with web analytics you'll tap out at Director (or in a grade inflation environment, a VP). But as I mentioned below strong business executives don't really have a ceiling.

That's it. Four different job families. Each unique in its job, salary and future prospects.

My fondest hope is that as you evaluate your career that you'll now be empowered beyond the normal job stuff that you often read. What you have above is the output of my humble experience in multiple multiple roles working as a Practitioner, Author, Evangelist, People Leader.

There is one job / role / career choice I have not covered here. Becoming a Consultant. Perhaps another day. For now let me share just this advice, the most common reason for Web Analytics Consultants failing (or not succeeding as much as they should) is that they believe technical skills are enough or just being good at business (analysis / understanding / savvy) is enough. It is not. It is hard to find both is one place as well. If you want to do that find a partner. You be the strongest Analyst on earth and let her be the Technical Goddess. Now you are set for greatness.

Before I end, I had promised something about being laid off in a down turn.

My Story.

pushI have had three professional jobs in the US. I have resigned from only one, the last one. The first two jobs (4.5 yrs and 2 yrs respectively) I was laid off.

The first in worst of personal financial times (market going down, first baby on the way etc). It was deeply stressful.

In hindsight though each layoff was the best thing that could have happened. Allowed me to start fresh. Each bumped my career trajectory in ways that would never have happened if I had stayed at the job.

I hope your job is secure. But if it is not I hope you take some inspiration in my humble experience of being laid off twice from good jobs (that I was good at) and the longer term results.

Ok your turn now.

What has worked in managing your own web analytics career? Anything above in my Web Analytics Career Introspection Guide resonates with you? What about the four job families? What did I not consider or get wrong?

Please share your stories, feedback and encouragement.

I appreciate your attention, thank you.

PS:
Couple other related posts you might find interesting:

Comments

  1. 1
    Kayode Afolabi says:

    Wao! Its hard to say this is your best post but considering its relevancy to me at this moment, I will say it is the best so far! Thanks Avinash.

    I'm currently working in the UK as a Senior Web Analyst (Individual Tech Contributor in your context).I had planned a 2 weeks holiday this month to think through my career trajectory but I didnt really know what to read or what the context & content of my thinking and planning should be but this post has definitely made it 'easy' and hopefully I will be able to share my feedback with you in 2009.

    Thanks again!

  2. 2
    Peter Pletsch says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I agree on the four groups you describe above. Thanks a lot for this insightful post.

    I'm currently in the comfortable postition to have an open web analytics position (1/2 FTE) and I'm looking for the one and only person to support me in the daily analytics madness.

    This post helped me to define my strenghts and weaknesses more accurately and look for the person who's good at the things I'm not that good at.

    Best regards from Germany,

    Peter

  3. 3
    Kostis Panayotakis says:

    As I was doing some reporting squirrel tasks (numbers not matching etc), this modesty stuff, was a good one.
    Thanks

  4. 4
    Klaus says:

    Wow, excellent article! And I thought I'll only find here stuff about web analytics…
    I think your points are valid for nearly anybody in a junior technical role..

  5. 5
    Glenn Walker says:

    liked this article but felt like its focused towards big corp career paths…

    there is no coincidence that people in sales move up the chain. increase the sales/revenue of your firm or get in B2B sales. even simpler, if you want to make more money work for yourself. risk… reward…

  6. 6
    David says:

    Very interesting and helpful post! I am just starting my career in web analytics and this post is a great structure to work from for professional development.

    Again, VERY interesting and helpful.

  7. 7
    Marshall says:

    I really wanted to fit into one of those buckets, but it seems like parts of each, well mainly 3, describe my history and function with analytics and agree with @Glenn Walker that it seemed to be slanted toward the larger corporate environment.

    I got into web analytics from the marketing side in smaller business with a need to justify spending on campaigns via metrics on increase conversion, make sure people stay longer, go here, go there, source of entry, what did they do etc. From starting at smaller companies I've had to incorporate many of the functions that your buckets describe without claiming ninja status in any of them but also not doing all the squirrel work either. From managing implementations, managing and rolling up my sleeves to optimize, performing the analysis to answer questions from CMO types as well as my own (for the campaign's/site's/business's sake) in relation to the larger goal of the company.

    While I read your post and thought, I wish I could be in one of those buckets as I could then have the time to only be able to focus on one of those areas AND maybe achieve a ninja status, I realized I'd also give up on all the other aspects that come with an Online Marketing Manager role which I also truly love. I suppose I'm guilty of wanting to take part in all of it, but I'm happy, the company is happy, the money is great and I feel I can take ownership to get things done when I'm given the freedom from-end to-end implementation, analysis, reporting, optimization, lather, rinse, tweak, repeat.

    I have a feeling that having taken part in all aspects will keep my options open as I move along in life, either via resignation or lay off.

    Great post for introspection.

  8. 8
    Dude says:

    jus lovin it K!
    i m a business grad..with over 4 yrs of online and analysis experience, wondering should i go and study for a one yr tech degree or a do a certification in something? what do you reckon is better for me to grow my prospects?

  9. 9
    KatFrench says:

    Great, wonderfully useful article, as usual, Avinash.

    I would say that the harder of the two splits for me to determine is between independent contributor and team leader, mostly because I like working independently but also really love one-on-one mentoring.

    Being, out of necessity, a "jack of all trades" sometimes makes these distinctions a little harder to figure out. You know what you're good at, but why you're good at it is sometimes more important. Is something a strength because of natural affinity, or because you've had to work so hard at it to achieve competence?

    I agree with you about the MBTI lacking the depth of the enneagram, but both have been helpful for me–and the subtlety of the enneagram's focus on strategy/motivation, rather than preferences, can be hard for some to immediately get–so if they understand MBTI better, it's not a bad starting place. :)

  10. 10
    Ike says:

    Thank you for the great outline of the various career paths available to us analytic types.

    I should be transitioning to a new role soon and I will be reaching the fork in the career path shortly thereafter – your article is extremely timely.

    Best,
    Ike

  11. 11

    Oh well, this post is just so great! Great outline about the ways everyone would like to follow (or at least to try).

    I'm kind of a newcomer here. I did start to work with Web Analytics like 3 months ago and the funny thing is: I already got doubts about the paths that I would try to go.

    And we already know that we will need more people for out Web Analytics section and, for sure, I'll guide the new guys and decide who will work with what. The point is: I'm not that sure about the path to follow even for myself.

    I can say that this topic made to start to think about that by a very focused way (and yes, I still got a good time to think about that). And I must thank you for this. I Got to say that I just love your technical topics, but topic like this are really special. So please, keep writing things like this, often.

    Best Regards, from Brazil (and sorry for my english).

  12. 12
    Steve says:

    Avinash, another truly terrifc post. I have one request though. I constantly get bogged down reading through your posts (eager to read each word) only to stumble across a tasty embedded link you provide, without thought. I know this is picky and I mean no disrepesct :(. Each time I see your RSS-feed drop I can't wait to read.

    Thanks.

  13. 13
    Alice Cooper's Stalker says:

    Avinash,

    Great post! Your 'chicken soup for the web analytics professional's soul' in regards to layoffs is appreciated. So often people are more than willing to share stories of their successes, but they don't share stories of darker times in their careers. In your case, their loss, the world of analytic's gain.

    You've done a good job of laying out the basic options for web analytics careers here.

    I might take a little different approach in regards to my career. I've been an IS professional for 15 years and I've worn many hats. I've been a COBOL programmer, an EDI analyst, a web developer, done a little graphic design, and I'm a certified (PMP) project manager. I got into web analytics a couple of years ago because the field interested me. I've been developing websites for a while and thought the idea of taking a time out to see what I could learn from them was interesting. Right now, I see web analytics as being another discipline. It's another tool in my IS Toolkit. It's not the be all end all for me. I would like to move up though. I've done a lot of latterals in my career. So, the question of how do I move up is forever churning in the back of my head. Some people seem to just have an intuitive drive and sense towards how to get promoted and advance.

    Your post got me thinking about other aspects of career moves…not just web analytics careers. Your post title was referring that the topic was how to go about making more money. Career choices are about more than just money. I could be a consultant and fly around the country and probably make more money. At this point in my life, I have two young children. I'm willing to trade some salary for increased work/life balance as this is important to me and my family at this point in my career. I probably couldn't have that as a technical consultant for a web analytics tool vendor. (I know our's is constantly on the road!) Life and decisions are full of trade offs! Keep this in mind.

    Right now, my goal is to become a hands-on manager of a highly-specialized team of technical professionals. Maybe web analytics….maybe some other aspect of IS. I like coaching and mentoring others. I've had some great managers and mentors in my career. I'd like to give back and contribute in this capacity. I don't want to completely give up on the technology though. Technology is why I got into this area. I want to keep my hands dirty and my mind sharp, too. However, I've found that as my career has evolved, I'm very interested in the business side too. I want to be a contributing member of the business and not just a source of reports for them to worry about. I strive to be a partner and enabler for the business. I like the strategy aspects of such a role, too. What more can we do? What is the next step for us to advance? What are our competitors doing?

    Your blog has revealed other career areas for me that I hadn't before thought about but I'd consider as a future career opportunity.

    At one point, I took a look on linkedin and looked for high-level web analytics people and titles just to see where I might be able to take a career in web analytics. I found a few that I would say fell under your Business Team Leader. Actual titles were something like Marketing Analytics Director. So, these people didn't just focus on Web Analytics. They are looking and tracking on acquisition analytics, market share, etc…etc…

    I know I went on some tangents here, but your post really got the wheels turning in a lot of different directions today.

    To those of you who have lost your jobs or are on the verge, keep in mind that a job is just a job. It doesn't define you. There are lots of ways to make money in this world…both in good times and in bad.

  14. 14
    Ellen says:

    Great advice Avinash. I'm sure you have a crowd of Ninjas following in your footsteps.

  15. 15
    Patrick says:

    Avinash,

    Great post. I'd agree with "Alice Cooper's Stalker" (gotta love that nom de plume) somewhat in that career paths that start in or pass through the web analytics realm, particularly for those with more on the business skill side of the ledger, can lead to positions with broader job scope. A firm knowledge of a company's site(s) that a good web analyst gains, coupled with good business sense and knowledge of the company's overall goals, can lead to positions such as "Web Strategist" or "Website Product Manager." When looking at this strictly from the standpoint of web analytics job functions, I think your post is dead on.

    Keep up the good fight!

  16. 16
    John Rock says:

    Great post and topic.

    I personally don't worry about titles so much as I've noticed they often give poor insight into what someone really does and how good they are at it.

    It also doesn't help that many companies don't have a clue about what web analytics is really all about, unless you're working for a vendor, Google or any other web-savvy company.

    My personal daily challenge is trying to get directors and VPs to really get what I'm trying to say. While I'm highlighting web related issues (symptoms) to paint a broader picture of the real problems (root causes), they get hung up on the symptoms and how to patch them because that's all they can understand at the moment.

    One day web analytics will have to be better understood by business execs just like finance and marketing. I think you also need to be very good at business politics if you want to move up the corporate ladder and get your voice heard.

  17. 17

    Great post as always Avinash. I would propose a category for more a hybrid role. One in which you have more than simply web analytics in your job description. Someone who assists with other online marketing initiatives. The jack of all trades type of individual.

  18. 18
    David says:

    With this post you have set a new standard Avinash. Others have written good career advice type posts but the clarity, detail and depth here are quite impressive. Bravo.

  19. 19
    Manjula says:

    Terrific post! Thank you.

  20. 20
    Marty says:

    Avinash,

    The Tenrec is NOT the rarest animal on earth. It's actually pretty common, and is even hunted for food by indigenous population of the Indian ocean islands. Even just a Google Image search will show you many pictures of different specimens, so its not "one of a kind" as it is written on the page you have linked to.

    The official rarest animal on earth is actually the Geochelone nigra abingdoni, aka Pinta giant tortoise. There is only one that is known to be still alive, nicknamed Lonesome George.

    http://www.darwinfoundation.org/files/species/pdf/pinta-en.pdf

  21. 21
    Kristen says:

    This may have been my favorite post yet (well, at least in the top 3).

    A couple years ago when I was trying to decide whether to leave my former company, I read "Now, Discover Your Strengths" and the core theme of focusing on developing your natural talents vs. improving weak areas really stuck with me. This is the essence of your post — know what you're good at and play to those strengths. (In my case, this means emphasizing the business and marketing side, and building strong relationships with my internal technical gurus!)

    I've also observed in the past year that company and team structures can change so fast that sometimes you get thrown in a much different role than you had planned on, but once you jump in, you may find it's actually an even better fit. I guess self-awareness comes gradually, and the more you experience, the more you know where you can add the most value.

    Thank you for the inspirational post.

    BTW, I'm a 3 on Enneagram. What are you? I wonder what sorts of correlations could be drawn between the paths you outlined here and the Enneagram personalities…

  22. 22
    Rich Page says:

    Yet another great Post Avinash – very revealing, and will definitely help me when considering my future path. By the way, how long does it take you to write a blog post like this anyway? Must take you hours!

  23. 23

    Glenn: The post certainly is directed for company with, say, more than 100 to 150 employees (at the least).

    The reason is simple. A web analytics "career" usually does not exist in small companies. You'll probably be the only Analyst (probably not full time) and a small company does not really have room for you to grow and get promoted to higher levels in a web analytics capacity.

    Let me hasten to add that not having a deep career path does not mean I am saying don't work for a small company.

    On the contrary that are two awesome benefits of working at a small company:

    1) You will be hugely challenged to produce value on day one and day two and day three and day nine hundred. Nothing better than that to create a amazing learning environment, to try new things, to get things done fast (you cannot imagine the soul crushing bureaucracy in large companies!).

    2) You have a lot more flexibility in a smaller organization to completely switch careers. You show you are good at Analytics and your credibility could allow you to switch to a Search Marketer or run the Website or take over IT or …. you catch my drift. This is also very hard in a bigger company.

    So while this post is less applicable to a "career in web analytics" in a small company, life for a web metrics analyst in a small company can be absolutely sweet.

    Of course you can strengthen your skills in WA with #1 above and then if you really do love it and want to specialize in it you can move to a mid or large corporation.

    Marshall: In medium to larger companies it is very hard to be a "jack of all trades" and survive / thrive. Very quickly you have to pick your specialty and get good at it (and of course you can evolve it and switch over time if you want to).

    I would even postulate that being a jack of all trades, unless jack is really good at all the trades, poses a career challenge in this economy.

    KatFrench: This is just my own experience (might not be reflective of everyone's) but it is not very hard to figure out if deep in your heart you are truly at peace as a individual contributor or you get your energy from being a people leader. They are such different things. Try to put yourself in each situations, even for a short time and see if that helps you figure it out.

    Kristen mentioned it in her comment, understanding what you are good at is a journey. And often luck plays a role in that.

    Alice Cooper Stalker: I am not a least bit surprised about your WA success and your prior eclectic career.

    I have always said that the best folks I know in web analytics are those with "delightful" backgrounds. This post:

    Web Analytics Career Advice: Statistics, Business, IT & Mushrooms

    No wonder you are thriving in WA, you are a living proof of my (not statistically significant) theory!

    Marty: Thanks very much for the correction.

    Writing a long complex post really late in the night and looking for precise examples clearly don't mix. Lesson learned. :)

    Rich: This particular post was much harder. Because I really wanted to approach the problem from a very different perspective and because I wanted to write the complete end to end story.

    I re-did the introspection model once and the framing of how to approach each job family twice. It was a small bunch of hours of work. I don't know that I am still totally happy with it (and there are some structural mistakes!).

    The pictures took another hour and half.

    -Avinash.

  24. 24
    Jonathan says:

    I've been reading youre blog for over a year now and I've learnt a lot, so thank you.

    I got laid off as late august this year and in hindsight, it was the best thing that couldve happened. I moved from a inflexible behemoth to a lean and ambitious small recruitment company. Right now I'm in a position that pretty much covers all the above (and I do it part-time, next to uni). Pretty stressful at times, but good fun as well. But, to be honest, I'm more a strategist than a technical Ninja. Thankfully, my employer understands and supports that :). We'll see what the future holds…

    Thanks again, youre blog has helped me out countless of times, and has given me fresh ideas.

    -Jonathan

  25. 25
    Gosia says:

    Thank you very much for this post:-)

    I think that in web analytics carreer we are more or less fooled by Randomness.

  26. 26
    KatFrench says:

    @Avinash – Thanks! This morning I was actually thinking about this during my commute, and I realized that the type of mentoring I enjoy doing is still part and parcel of being an individual contributor. It's more along the lines of that "Evangelist" or "Product Genius" element you mentioned. :)

    @Kristen – I saw Strengthfinder 2.0 while out shopping this weekend and nearly picked it up. You've convinced me to go back for it.

    I'm a 4w5, myself (which means you get your business data with a side of existentialist angst!) But for what it's worth, my two best supervisors ever, in over 20 years of working, were both enneagram 3s. Threes are often very good at hiring excellent people and then getting out of their way. Just never make a 3 boss look bad!

  27. 27

    Great, very useful post Avinash!

    Each one of your posts has been so insightful and thought provoking. I appreciate your effort in putting this up for us.

    It would be nice to have similar advice for beginners starting in this field. There are lots of new people entering or planning to enter web analytics. I am one of them. And even though I had an opportunity to get some great advice from you through our LinkedIn network, for many beginners your blog is one of the primary educational and inspirational resource.

    The main dilemma for most beginners is how to enter this field and find a job as most positions out there demand 4-5 yrs. of experience, knowledge of advanced WA tools (CoreMetrics, WebTrends etc) and a long list of software skills (ASP.NET, PHP, JavaScipt, XML, XHTML, CSS, SQL, SAS, AJAX, Flex, Excel).

    In my own case, while I have started seeking a beginners role (I spotted none so far) after doing the UBC Web Analytics program, what basic software skills should one have in order to get a start?

    Best regards from Canada,

    – Ashish

  28. 28
    neeraj chand says:

    An elightening post Avinash,

    I myself am a newcomer to this field and have a lot of questions like how to get experience in this field, probably Ashish Kothari's mail share my sentiments also,

    But from my previous job experience as a manager-technical in a cement industry (in my previous life) i did learn a few things worth sharing.

    Glass ceilings in any careers are positive hurdles which encourage one to explore and think outside the box, and for any being with a logical purpose in life, this usually turns out well.

    Career growth in a web analytics profession: for any company as far as i think the bottom line is the profit, it is a numbers game. An employee's worth in a company may be determined by how much money he/she can make/save for the company thus adding to its bottom line.

    One can have a static web analytics career but to really advance at a better than average pace, KPI's directly related to you should be as closest links as it can be to the bottom line (profit margin). As you get experienced your question should be more or less evolving towards What do you exactly do that contributes directly to it? rather than What do you exactly do that contributes indirectly to it? The more visible this link becomes the sooner your worth is going to be recognised.

    One good career move, if you would be interested in such a path, would be to pursue an MBA. It may feel like something you can easily do without and perform equally well or even better, but i think it is essential to break that glass ceiling.

    I say this based on two assumptions: Firstly that you dont want to immediately pursue further studies within the web analytics or related field and secondly that you dont want to start on your own and develop your own niche.

    Thanks again.
    Best regards.

  29. 29
    Bradley Woods says:

    Thank you! I have been waiting for a post like this from you.

  30. 30
    Ryota Masaki says:

    Wow that was a great post. I only have a year of experience in analytics and feel like this has put things in perspective, I am still a newbie!

    I do feel that I am technically savvy and have great analysis skills, but I am definitely lacking in people management skills. Probably due to my relatively recent grad status.

    I work at a small search marketing company and I definitely do feel that my contributions greatly effect the end result and even path that the company takes.

    I will definitely refer back to this article frequently =)

  31. 31
    Bryan Cristina says:

    Great post!

    "Each bumped my career trajectory in ways that would never have happened if I had stayed at the job."

    I agree that my bumps didn't really happen until I left where I currently was. My tips are a bit shorter than yours if you don't feel you're making what you should:

    1) Leave, go work for someone else. Call it a sabbatical, change of perspective, or "Training" if you want to justify it to yourself :)

    2) Come back after they miss you, get promoted in higher than when you left

    3) Celebrate

    3 is optional but I couldn't help myself. Aside from getting to where I was more comfortable, my absense gave everyone a little perspective. Myself, I learned that the company was pretty good and I learned a few new skills/attitudes while I was gone, and they learned just how valuable my knowledge, dedication, and skill was. When I returned there was considerably more appreciation on both sides.

    As for the 2nd company I left, I gave them some perspective on what they should be doing with analytics and that they couldn't just rest on being sub-par and that they should expect more out of anyone in the organization that considered themselves a web analyst.

    And if your current company isn't so great, well, don't go back. Make that second leap somewhere else and be happy. Either way you win, you just can't be afraid to do it.

    "I would propose a category for more a hybrid role. One in which you have more than simply web analytics in your job description. Someone who assists with other online marketing initiatives. The jack of all trades type of individual."

    Good idea. I fall into this a lot, I feel I have enough broad knowledge to help out in many areas and personally, the variety of doing so keeps things so fresh I welcome every single one of those opportunities.

  32. 32
    Kenny Grant says:

    Great article. I'm new to the analytics scene, and would love some education/experience advice for any of the 4 groups listed above.

    Many thanks.

    Kenny

  33. 33
    Nancy says:

    Great post Avinash. I think it is great to call out the difference between the technical and business focused roles. I think people who are less familiar with this field overall are mainly exposed to the technical role- and in the rush to "implement" (by vendors, consultants, IT) there is often less thought around the business strategy piece. Thanks for calling out the need for both types of roles.

    For smaller business (lots of folks mention this looks like a larger corporate structure)I think the skills are still valid. A suggestion would be to assess what skills you need from the 4 areas (might be a hybrid of 1 or 2 of them), then assess what you already possess internally, and what you could contract from a vendor or agency if you don't have all of the skills in-house and can't add another position. Yes, ideally each of the 4 areas is at least 1 FTE, but you might find you don't need a full FTE in each area, and might have a team member who bridges two of the areas nicely right now.

  34. 34
    bobj says:

    "My goal is to climb the ranks and increase my salary.”…..

    is a very powerful statement and also shows some of "Michael's" level of self confidence.

    Interesting post and reading the above posts always fun. Nothing is really about tech aspects but always about people and Avinash you do nice job of picking up on human elements.

    Here's what's interesting to me.

    The statement itself shows Michael wants to remain dependent upon others to recognize and promote, which is fine and most people are that way. However in any situation as Avinash also showed you will always only achieve ( not just monetarily but other social factors ) what you are allowed to achieve. If the company goes down, management changes, or ownership changes the wind may blow against you no matter what value or talents you have.

    I was fortunate to attend a college that has consistently been ranked # 1 for years in Entrepreneurship and was amazed our grads all wanted to go to work for a Big 8 accounting firm. The educational process was to reward risk taking yet the reality was to secure "security". Somewhat paradoxical.

    My reasoning to Michael would be if you want security you will not find it, except on a limited basis, in any career path dependent upon relinquishing control of your own destiny to another. I got a feeling you are good, and comfortable, with what you do. To reach your personal highest potential increase your risk level by considering your own consulting practice or going to a company and not asking for a salary but some % of how much you can improve the goals of the company using your skills. Over time you will acquire the skills of business development and you will find ways to remove yourself and your family from the day to day risks of being dependent on others to notice your value.

    The only real monopoly allowed in the U.S. is a "personal monopoly" such as Michael Jordan enjoys due to his skills, name and the way he used those talents personally to enhance his life. Michael reach for the stars, you may or may not make it, but that's not important. You reached is.

    From a non – analytics person but one who wishes you the best.

  35. 35
    Ankit says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I would like to say a very hearty thanks you. I got a job as an analyst after reading your blog. I was also laid off from my previous job. And, in just 20 days I started reading your blog and started applying to various jobs. I got called for 3 interviews and I was selected for one. I really thank you for all your blog posts and videocast because of which I was able to get the job.

    Thanks
    Ankit

  36. 36
    Sarah says:

    Whoa, cool – my enneagram test result says I'm "gifted in analysis." Ha!

  37. 37
    Bhagawat says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Your are really the Guru!

    Few days back I went to give a presentation on Basics of Web Analytics to the post graduate students of Shivaji University, Kolhapur, India.

    I had the information about the what is web analytics, why we are we doing it, what can we do etc….. so and so.

    Once I finished my presentation the first question was what is the career opportunity in this field?

    It was not a surprising question to me since I was also looking for that. Because I was also new in that field (1 yrs. baby :)). So I just told them about what I really knew as career in web analytics.

    But according to me now I can give the reference of your current article so that they would know better.

    Thanks a lot once again to Guruji.

    Regards,
    Bhagawat.

  38. 38
    suhel says:

    Nice post and right time you are really true analyst, you have analyse the situation, hats off to you.

  39. 39
    Alice Cooper's Stalker says:

    @ bobj : Interesting perspective to throw in this conversation, bobj. Also timely given the economy and the mass layoffs.

  40. 40
    David says:

    "You are good at your analytics “game” but you are also a strong business person (I hate to say this but MBA / “strategic” type)."

    Why do you hate to say that? Isn't the best ussage of analytics using it to make decisions across the whole business?

  41. 41
    Jan de Vries says:

    Great post Avinash thanks. It will help me to take the next steps in my career if needed. I believe that if you do that where your passion lies then sky is the limit. Love to read your post :) greetings Netherlands

  42. 42
    Robert Kim says:

    Interesting to see how more and more people seem to think they have mastered a subject when really the learning process never ends. Interesting post Avinash~

  43. 43
    Lary Stucker says:

    This is my first time to your blog and I am very thankful for the thoughtfulness, time and attention to detail you put into a post that most people would have written with sweeping generalities.

    Great, now I have to added your blog to my must read list!

  44. 44
    TheAnand says:

    Me dropped here from twitter, this is a very exhaustive post you have. I always wondered what it is to be a analyst, thanks for clearing things up a lot!

  45. 45

    Hi Avinash,

    I have read ur blog currently working as an SEO manager through this I can apply for web analytics position.Its a great luck to visit this web site.

  46. 46
    Roopam says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I have been a reader of your blog for quite sometime now and am currently reading your book too. I have not worked on any of the web analytics tools….have a fair idea of what analytics can be like (i have been in research for 5 years). and i do not have any technical background as well :). so basically i realy dont know much about this field. However, what i do know is that i want to be a part of it…

    i am in delhi currently and there are hardly any companies that are involved in web analytics…so i plan to open a company myself!! have quit my job too (for some other reasons but am thinking its the right time…i am already out of my comfort zone so might as well!!!)

    any suggestions? (please assume i am completely new to this field but see a lot of scope since web is taking shape in india too!!)

    thanks…

  47. 47
    Richard says:

    What about SEOs who know they can't do their job to the best of their ability without having an Analysts knowledge, experience and instinct? Is that a skill-set worth a brand new categorisation?

  48. 48
    Tad Reeves says:

    What's quite amusing is that I was just doing a little bit of fun googling, and googled for "web analytics god" and your site came up as #1. I figured it'd be that way, but still found it quite amusing.

  49. 49
    Ryan Ekins says:

    I ended up leaving Omniture in November of 2008. It was a hard decision, but I kept getting pigeon holed. Great article by the way!

    Here's my story on my experience at Omniture.
    http://www.solutionanalytics.com/web-analytics/6-months-since-i-left-omniture/

  50. 50
    medyum says:

    Thank you for the great outline of the various career paths available to us analytic types.

  51. 51

    Avinash, your post (and your books) are fantastic. More importantly, your humility is a great quality. When it comes to career advice I agree with bobj (http://www.medfaxxinc.com/) (see comment above posted on Dec 9, 2008) when he says:

    "the only real monopoly allowed in the US is a "personal monopoly" …"

    In other words, one of the best ways to realize your true potential and increase income is to go into business for yourself, either as a consultant or some variation of it. Of course, it depends on the individual's level of risk preference.

    Avinash, you are the Peter Drucker (or Michael Jordan) of web analytics! You are an inspiration.

  52. 52
    Katie says:

    Thank you for this great post, Avinash. I'm in the early stages of my analytics career and your layout of the possible career paths really opened my eyes. Especially the part about choosing between the technical or business side of things, as I'm currently in the process of making this choice.

    I'm leaning towards business/strategy but I am not very experienced at it; on the other hand, I'm really good at the technical stuff but I can't see myself carrying on as a career techie. The question I'm trying to answer for myself is, can I learn to be good at the one despite my natural skills in the other?

    This is what's going through my mind at the moment, and triggered by your very thought-provoking post. Thanks again.

  53. 53

    Katie: The most elusive person in all of Web Analytics land, the proverbial purple cow, is….. a business person in WA who has medium to strong technical skills. They are sooooo rare.

    So if you are willing to be exposed to the business side of things, hijack a site (no matter how small) and market the heck out of it, perhaps consider taking a couple business classes, becoming a student of Seth Godin, getting advice on how hard life is from your parents :),…. of any such thing then you just might become a purple cow.

    At the end of the day data is in service of the business. Most people think the business is in service of data. Be in the first category and you'll thrive.

    Good luck!!

    Avinash.

  54. 54
    Milos says:

    I think the opportunity in Analytics area are endless. There is a lot opportunity for people that have a experience in quantitative field like Math or Physic. All companies need to have analytical insight for driving their business better.

  55. 55
    Ramesh says:

    I have been looking for information on web analytics, this article is awesome.

    Now I've come to know the type of jobs and what it consists of. Its really helpful for someone who is looking for an analytic job.. Thanks for sharing with us…

  56. 56
    Lisa says:

    I have a question, what about cross-overs types, where do they fit in all this? By this I mean, true development techies, skills in web development, that are also trained in analytics?

    I'm trying to become one as a means of having a more meaningful IT career (where I can see how I can make an impact). I'm not sure if it's possible to be good at both. In your experience, have you witnessed such a type?

    • 57

      Lisa: You would naturally, and immediately, fit into #1 and #3.

      Here are two ideas: Implementation (with clients or as a consultant for Vendors) is a path. Development (with clients leveraging tools APIs doing really cool stuff, or with Vendors working on the core product).

      It is possible to do both (business + technical). They, as I mention in the article, are rare. The way I personally analyze that is I look for the depth of business experience (not just MBA-type but a deep understanding of the business and the business of marketing and customer experience) and the depth of their technical experience (current web technologies). And I have to admit that if I have to make a tradeoff I personally make it in the technical area, not in the business area (for these hybrid folks).

      All the best!

      Avinash.

  57. 58
    Hitesh says:

    Thanks a ton Avinash! Really an eye-opener.

    Well, I have started my career in Online Marketing. Its been 3.5 yrs now.

    Done all of it. SEO, SEM, Analytics Reporting, Website suggestions & updates, Social Media.

    (Might be not a master of all of these, but I can rate myself a 7 on 10)

    I am not great at html, don't know SQL or other languages.

    Rethinking my career path at the moment. Based on your suggestions, I am seeing Biz. Analytics, BI as a good path to shift to from here.

    For that, I need to train myself in SQL, Database Languages? And then look for an opportunity in Biz analytics? Is that ok? :)

    Thanks in advance!

    • 59

      Hitesh: Strictly speaking for a business analysis role SQL or "Database Languages" are not a requirement. An understanding of analytical approaches, and actual use of them, is much more important.

      But understanding sql and basic principles of database design is quite helpful for an analyst. It is worth investing in a 101 type of course.

      -Avinash.

  58. 60
    Shawn says:

    Great post, how has things changed now? (It's been 4 yrs since you posted this). I've been trying to break into web analytics but am coming up empty handed. I get calls from recruiters all the time but all want more experience. Where are all the junior/entry level jobs?

    I have Market Motive certs. in Web Analytics as well as conversion opt., seo, ppc and am doing 2 volunteer web analytics projects thru the Analysis Exchange which has given me some great practical exp. (following your edict of "play in the real world") but doesn't seem to be enough for employers.

    Tips, advice?

  59. 62
    Aqif Hassen says:

    Great post Avinash!

    Great for folks entering this space about the prospects and career paths.

  60. 63
    Hemant Varhekar says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Really good article with the in-depth insight of Analytics as a carrier. I am really grateful to you that it is helping me a lot in deciding my carrier move after working 2.5 years in IT(QA) in banking domain

    Like you I have also been laid off after completing a year in my first company.I waana make my carrier in Analytics but looking at the uncertainty of the business and what happened with me in past my other hemisphere is tell me not to take a that much amount of risk.

    But after reading this artical. I am looking for and more determined to make my carrier in Analytics.

    Plse suggest me a beginners guidline and which type of Analytics should I be looking for.

    Thanks
    Hemant

  61. 65
    Avadhut says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I loved this post.

    I have a question:
    I've worked as a financial analyst for almost 10 years. Currently, I write on my blog – financewalk.com. Analysis of data is my passion and love. I have managed my own Google AdWords campaigns successfully. I use Webmaster tools , AdWords and Google Analytics for strategic decisions to build business.

    Can you please suggest any tool in financial analytics (like MS Excel for data analysis) which I can learn and master and share my knowledge through posts on my blog?

    Hope I could communicate my question to you.

    Regards,
    Avadhut

    • 66

      Avadhut: There is no standard for financial analysis, different companies tend to have different tools. You should look in your local geographic area and see what companies are using.

      One good way to identify that is to just look up the job postings in the sector in your local online job search website. Just look at the Requirements section and you'll know exactly what you need to learn.

      -Avinash.

      • 67
        Avadhut says:

        Hi Avinash,
        Thank you for your reply.
        I'm looking for universal tools like Excel, Google Analytics which anyone can use from any country. My audience is global and so want to write on such tools/software.
        Have you come across any such software/tool?

        Regards,
        Avadhut

  62. 68
    Jason says:

    I just came across this post, which looks like it was posted quite a while ago.

    It is a great post that I found just searching on google for analytics type jobs. I got a lot out of it and it is really making me think about my own career.

    I will definitely bookmark your site and look forward to future posts.

  63. 69
    Dan D says:

    Hi, Avinash.

    As always, I love your posts. I have had this one bookmarked for a while and come back to it often, trying to gain perspective from it. I have an issue with where I am at in my career path right now, and maybe you could enlighten me a little.

    I have been working as an analyst for a year. Before that, I did IT work and Graduated with a BS in Business. My problem is that for the last year I have been a "Web Analyst" I have not done any sort of analysis at all. I'm basically just churning out weekly and monthly reports, and have essentially freed up time for the other analysts to do more analysis. Sure, I have absorbed some things through the use of tools like SiteCatalst and Google Analytics, so I have a strong sense of what I should be doing and looking for. Now I find myself being the one in the room who should know more, and be able to interject useful thoughts… But I just haven't been able to do that.

    There is always the "well, you could have been taking it upon yourself to learn more" argument that is totally valid, but With a family life and no spare time at work, I just didn't think I would be at this point early enough to think I had to do that. A year later, I feel like I haven't learned nearly as much as I should have. Maybe more direction from my boss would have helped, or some kind of advice from someone who has been there before.

    The question is now, What do I do? I feel like I either have to find another job, or be the dumbest guy in the room until I have spent weeks and months, in essence, "catching up."

    Should I transition to a different career path? Use the knowledge I have gleaned form a year of reporting on analysis and do something else? Or do I stay and try to figure things out?

    Thanks.
    -DanD

    • 70

      Dan: You should never take advice from people in comments. Rule number one of career management. :) With that warning, let me at least say something that might be of value…

      You want your web analytics life to look like this:

      Web Analyst's Effort Distribution

      More context in this post: Data Capture, Data Reporting, Data Analysis: A Simple Framework for Smarter Decisions

      So the question then is… 1. Do you have the skills to do this and 2. Do you have the opportunity to do this in your current role.

      If you don't have the skills then I'm afraid you don't have much of a choice, you have to just go get them. Maybe your company can pay for tools training, but the real meat of your skills will come from your own initiative (I'm sorry, you do say in your comment how hard this is). It will be a bit in the evenings and the weekends – though you'll practice a lot of what you learn during work hours. My guide on how to learn: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

      If you have skills, you can ask for more analytical work. If you don't have skills you can't.

      Now question 2. Is your company willing to give you that analytical work? If the answer is yes, go! If the answer is maybe, demonstrate your analytical chops by taking one some small projects that need analysis in the company or assist a senior analyst with something difficult. If the answer is no even though you have skills, then it might be time (quietly) to look for other opportunities.

      I hope the two questions help you consider your situation, wait for it…., analytically :), and come up with the right answer for you.

      Your very last question I'm afraid I can't answer, I don't know enough about you, the opportunities you might have or your incredible collection of interests. I will say that if you are passionate about analysis, this is perhaps one of the most future-proof career for people who are good at it.

      Good luck!

      -Avinash.

      • 71
        Dan says:

        Avinash –

        Thank you for giving your great points of view and advice.

        After reading your comment (which when given from a person of such incredible caliber would be hard NOT to take) I feel like I have had a moment of realization. I have read a few other blogs, articles, and other pieces that are on how to "do analytics" and realized that I do have the smarts and elbow grease to do this. I also have the passion. Your insight helped me come to that realization.

        I thought about when I'm doing reporting, how I find trends and "interesting data" that take me tangentially from the reporting and into the world of analytics. When that happens I pretty much lose track of time tunneling down the rabbit holes, trying to get to the reason behind the data. So I know its within me, and I do love to do it. I guess my hardship comes in the form of the absence of guidance and feeling stagnant.

        From this experience, I'm taking away this: I feel my next logical step is to figure out which way I want to go, and pursue the aspects of analytics that interest me. The Business side is more interesting, I feel, so I am going to try and brush up on some things as best I can to get myself going in the right direction. I'm also going to talk with my boss and see if he can do anything to help enhance my quality of life here, while I try and take the next steps needed (he's pretty understanding, just not-so-much on the whole engagement thing). I guess I never had a career path where it was so wide open and ahead of me that I got lost in the decision-making process along the way. I have so many passions and interests that I think just learning ANYTHING excites me. I think that's why I have gone through so many jobs recently, because I get bored and need something new and something to learn. I learn very quickly, so I get bored very quickly too… So a big THANK YOU is in order for helping clear that up.

        I appreciate all that you offer us as a collective group of analysts, and believe it or not, you change people's lives with your intellectual depth and knowledge. In an alternate universe, I quit my job today and gave up analytics altogether. Good for me that you put in your two cents on this.

        Are you interested in becoming a life coach? I think you might do pretty well. If only I had a mentor like you!

        Best,

        -Dan

    • 72
      Shockley Au says:

      Hey Dan,

      (Also keeping in mind Avinash's caveat on taking career advice from a comment, but…)

      The fact that you love this blog (for more than just the humour) says to me that you do love the "analysis" part of web analytics too, and not just the fact that you can create a custom report or dashboard. Your note makes it seem like want to take on more analysis, which I think is great – that's where a lot of the fun takes place!

      Just to add on to Avinash's comment, even if your company can't/won't provide formal training, there are plenty of resources online (right here for example) to get your mind analyzing and asking the right questions.

      The next weekly/monthly report you churn out, spend 5 or 10 minutes or so looking through them to see if anything stands out (yes, it could look like The Matrix at first, but you get the hang of it). Do that a few times and bring some insights forward to another web analyst or your manager, and see if that can get a conversation going about what interests you, and whether you can work on a path to getting there.

      My instinct says that if that role currently exists within the company, and you show an interest and initiative, they would be open to talking about moving you over (maybe not right away, but the ball would get rolling). Having churned out reports for a year to me says that you at least have the fundamentals down, and you're one step ahead of someone who isn't familiar with the tools.

      Good luck!

      – Shockley

  64. 73
    Vivek Srivastava says:

    Avinash –

    Thanks the heaven for a lovely post that people like me can read back and forth. (inflating your retuning visitors figures)

    Correct me if i am wrong, but I feel mentions of analytics softwares like sas and others could eliminate many a doubts for aspiring Analytics professionals.

    Thanks Again,

    Vivek

  65. 74
    Paresh says:

    Hi Avinash,

    First off, I just want to say I'm a big fan of your books and have learned a lot from your blog. I had a couple questions regarding my career and was hoping you could offer some insight.

    I have been working at an agency over 2 years now doing SEM (Google Adwords/Shopping Engines) for a wide range of clients. My confidence in being able to provide value and results has grown rapidly as I now only manage our larger accounts whose monthly ad spend usually exceeds 100k. I have also trained and manage a team of 3 junior level analysts for a year now which I feel is important to continue gaining management experience.

    However, I was curious what you think the next possible steps in this career path could lead to the most well rounded and long term growth.

    A) I could go on to get another 1-2 years under my belt here and eventually become a SEM director somewhere else (earn anywhere between 85k-110k).
    B) As many of my clients have offered to pay me directly which I have turned down, I could eventually become a freelance SEM consultant/analyst. This would have the most potential in terms of earning significantly more than what I would be paid at a company.
    C) I have been contemplating how I can grow my skill set and broaden my knowledge past SEM into becoming a Web Analyst who understands how all the different channels affect each other. Maybe learning some organic best practices, Email-marketing, Attribution Modeling, getting better with Google Analytics etc…

    I know option C won't happen overnight which is why I have bought your books and have taken the initiative to keep learning best practices and strategies outside of SEM on my own time but I was wondering which path you think will lead to the highest salary, becoming a top level SEM director or a top level Web Analyst?

    My second question has to do with your thoughts on going freelance. On average my clients are paying our company $2,000 a month for me to work on their account and I have well over 20 clients. Obviously, I wouldn't be able to start out with as large of a client base right away if I went freelance but assuming I could build myself up to even 1/3rd that amount it would undoubtably lead still to the highest earnings. What are some of the pros and cons of taking this route and do you think it would be a safer long term decision to take less pay and stay with a company for now? I am living in the Los Angeles area as a reference point for salaries and any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

    -Paresh

    • 75

      Paresh: Ultimately it is important to know that only you can answer the career question for yourself. No one else will ever have enough context.

      With that said, I'll share some food for thought based on your questions.

      A and B are choices, C is something you would have to do regardless.You simply don't have a choice there. Please see this post, item number 3: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change, or Perish.

      Let your choice of A or B help you choose which elements of our space you want to get smarter about. If you choose digital analytics, here's a post that might help as it has a step-wise process you can follow: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

      On the last one there is no perfect answer. Over a lifetime people swing in and out of the two paths you are outlining (consulting vs. employment). Often though, ironically, earnings are highest when you focus on your core competence (and enjoying that work) rather than focusing on the earning potential of every step.

      Good luck!

      -Avinash.

  66. 76
    Eric says:

    Avinash,

    I want to thank you for this article. I've been in a dilemma with my current role and have been trying to determine what my next steps should be for my career. I actually am one of the few people that had an opportunity to move from IT to Marketing 2 years ago to take over and start running the Conversion Optimization program. The program has a reached a point now where web analytics is crucial to push the company forward (before we just did simply usability type tests). I've struggled with trying to get the company to understand what web analytics is as most of the belief is its still SASS, Teradata and big pools of data. My technical background has a been an aweseome help with implementing and understanding conversion tools, web analytic deployments and other technical integrations. Unfortunately I don't feel like marketing has grasped how important this is and where we can go.

    I've been debating on moving towards a more technical role in either consulting for analytical deployments and conversion optimization programs but I'm afraid I'm selling myself short. Knowing that I have a great knack for technical because of my IT background (and I love doing it) but I also love helping solve the business problems I am torn on what my career should look like. Should I go the technical route or business route? Where can I get a bit of both?

    What advice would you give to someone in my situation?

    • 77

      Eric: Initially at least, as you deal with this transition that is in front of you, pick one horse to ride. Technical or business. And then pick individual contributor or team leader path.

      In some small companies it is possible to have a hybrid role. In larger companies (including consulting companies) you pick what your 70% is (tech or business) and then what your 30% will be (business or tech). The combination makes you unique, but pick one horse initially.

      As your career progresses, regardless of what you pick for the 70%, the 30% will make you stand out (if you really rock) and allow more options to open up. That's simply because it is extremely hard to find people who are exceptional at the 30% (whichever of the two you pick for 70%).

      Once you pick your side, here is an article that will help you figure out the optimal path for your training and education:

      ~ Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

      Good luck!

      -Avinash.

      • 78
        Vivek Srivastava says:

        Eric –

        It's a dilemma faced by many. Thanks for getting the best & the most succinct piece of advice out of the Best (Avinash). Tame two horses 70%-30%, but ride one at a time. Let yourself dance.. wow!..

        Many Thanks Avinash.. Zindabad :)

      • 79
        Eric says:

        Avinash and others,

        Can't thank you enough for the advice. I am still in the process of figuring out my next steps but I can honestly say this article has been my bed rock as I navigate my career decision. I think I've read this article/post/response at least 100 times now and every time it sets me back on the right track.

        I do have one question though that I'm curious to get yours and others feedback on. Given the choice between being a consultant for a web analytics vendor vs. being the business partner driving the strategy what are the pros vs. cons? Both jobs can lead to very different paths as you've described above but I wonder if one is arguably better then other long term? Again its matter of opinion but I'd be curious to see what others think.

        • 80

          Eric: Early in your career, you are probably going to learn a lot more in the vendor consultant path than if you work at a client/company. This is simply because the vendors will drive you from client to client and make you work crazy hours and put you in front of many absolutely un-delightful clients of theirs. This is a great learning experience.

          After that, I don't think it matters. In fact the reality is that you will be on the vendor consultant track for x years, you'll learn, get bored, want stability and family, and you'll switch to a company role. Then you'll hit diminishing margins of return in y years, and you'll take a senior leadership role at the vendor again. Then you'll do something else. Don't worry to much that you'll be "stuck" on one path all your life.

          Avinash.

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you’re not clear why this show could be really important to your web or business analyst career, read the post on Web Intelligence, and then read I am an Analytics God, I want more $$. How? by Avinash and think about the 4 paths he describes. […]

  2. […] Avinash Kaushik posts some great career advice for folks in the web analytics field: Analytics Career Advice:”I am an Analytics God, I want more $$. How?”. Although analytics aren’t my strong suit, the article calls out some significant considerations for anyone working in a technical role: is your future more technical or business-oriented? Do you want to be an individual contributor or team leader? He then calls out the advancement opportunities based on those criteria. […]

  3. […] Oh, and I can’t wrap this post up without a hat-tip to Avinash Kaushik, whose Web Analytics Career Advice post, in addition to some of the posts linked above, prompted me to write this. Business insights are another important part of this vocational skillset burgoo, and even if analytics isn’t your primary specialty, you need a passing familiarity with it to do well in any kind of online marketing. […]

  4. […] I was searching this morning for blogs about Web Analytics and I found this great post. It’s not necessarily WA, but it’s very related and makes analysts like me to think twice about the position they are in. […]

  5. […] Analytics Career Advice: "I am an Analytics God, I want more $$. How?" Avinash Kaushik | 12/3/08 […]

  6. […]
    Comme je suis devenu récemment “consultant analytics”, j’ai tout particulièrement aimé cet article d’ Avinash Kaushik. Il résume bien le marché actuel, que ce soit aux US ou en Europe. Même si les salaires sont moins élevés en France. La culture du résultat est malheureusement beaucoup moins poussée en France…

    Un article comme d’habitude très long et très complet. A lire absolument si comme moi vous travaillez dans l’analyse d’audience.

    Analytics Career Advice:"I am an Analytics God, I want more $$. How?
    […]

  7. […]
    Estudiar está muy bien, pero lo que es realmente interesante es planificar tu carrera en la analítica web. Avinash ha escrito un estupendo post sobre ello Analytics Career Advice:”I am an Analytics God, I want more $$. How?” la idea es más compleja de lo que parece. Seguramente tendréis que leerlo varias veces para definir si pertenecéis a alguno de los grupos o creéis que falta alguno. Leyendo me quedo con la sensación de que en aún nos queda mucho que crecer en la analítica web para que algunos de los puestos sean relevantes en Escandinavia y en España…
    […]

  8. […]
    The analytics expert Avinash Kaushik recently provided some great analytics career advice in his latest post, Analytics Career Advice, “I am an Analytics God, I Want More $$. How?” As someone who has climbed the analytics ladder, Avinash has some great experiences to pull from to help fellow analyst move their careers forward. As always the most important aspect to advancing your career is self evaluation. Avinash provides us with four questions to begin this:
    […]

  9. […] Avinash Kaushik recently addressed a question perenially on our minds — how to make more money as a web analyst — by offering some very specific advice on how to choose a career path in web analytics based on your strengths and aspirations.  It's a long post but definitely worth a read if you're in the field. […]

  10. […]
    I’ll build the specifics off of Avinash’s post about the four career paths or roles that will be filled in this practice. They sit in four quadrants defined by these two decisions:
    […]

  11. […]
    Reading a post by Avinash Kashik today made it loud that companies won’t have the time to fully train you and prepare you for the work. They will train you enough so you understand what needs to be done, and make sure the on-boarding process is as smooth as possible. If you’re interested in exploring a specific business topic or area, you won’t get after school lessons in that.
    […]

  12. […]
    Avinash Kaushik wrote a blog post a while back outlining 4 possible paths within analytics. Hope this helps.. http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2
    […]

  13. […]
    On the subject of the different web analytics routes that a web analyst can take , I should also refer you to Avinash’s post on the matter which I think is really good.
    […]

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