You’ve done the work. You’ve received the training. You’re working in one of the many Big Data jobs. Now, what’s next for your Big Data career path? Big Data is a big field, ripe with possibilities. You have plenty of occasions to level up in your career as a result, and the time to think about it is today. Even if you’re still new to your current role, you should be thinking about the next steps in your career so that you’re ready to move up when opportunity knocks.

And the opportunity will knock, both because the number of Big Data jobs will continue to grow in volume, and because organizations will need specially trained professionals as they master Big Data since we’re only in the early stages. According to one study, plenty of organizations are using Big Data, but they’re not yet succeeding: More than 85 percent of respondents reported that they had started programs to create data-driven cultures, but only 37 percent report seeing success. They will inevitably succeed, and that will drive an even greater need for skilled workers who can take on more specialized tasks and roles.

However, before that happens, you have plenty of types of Big Data careers to choose from, including Big Data Architect, Big Data Engineer, Data Analyst, Database Administrator, Data Scientist, Data Architect, Database Manager, and many more. You also have a wide range of technologies within Big Data you can master. In short, you’re in a career field full of possibilities. 

And positioning yourself now to move into one of those roles later is a very smart career move.

The Next Step on Your Big Data Career Path: Investing in You

Even if you’re happy in your current Big Data role, investing in yourself and your career should be an endless endeavor. Doing so will help during appraisals when you need to demonstrate your value to your manager. Doing so will also help as your organization continues to mature in its use of Big Data, leading to more specialized job positions. Skilled professionals are already in short supply, and your employer will benefit if they can promote you from within, rather than go through the time and expense to hire from outside. 

How do you make that investment? Continuous learning. You don’t know when opportunities will arise, so it’s a smart move to keep on learning no matter where you are on your Big Data career path. Below are four ways you can continue to learn and grow as a Big Data professional, so you’re ready when it’s time to level up. 

1. Learn New Big Data Skills

Continuous learning is one of the best ways to keep investing in yourself, and certifications are one of the best ways to do so both because of the depth of learning and because of the formal recognition of your achievement—something you can share with your current (or potential) employer. Or perhaps you’ve discovered some holes in your learning, and you want to tackle a specific topic, not a full certification. Online Big Data courses can help you fill in those gaps. And every time you learn something new, you are positioning yourself for future success in your Big Data career. 

2. Specialize in One of the Many Big Data Careers

If you want to make a serious commitment to learning, you could choose to specialize in one area of Big Data as a way to level up in your Big Data career. Maybe you’ve mastered Hadoop and Spark, and you’d like to move into the role of a Big Data Engineer. Or perhaps your interest in analytics means specializing in Data Science is your next career move. There are so many jobs in Big Data that you have plenty of options for specializing, to position you for that next career move. 

3. Improve Your Business and Communication Skills

When you consider continuous learning, however, think beyond technical knowledge. As you move up in your Big Data career, you might find that you are playing a more significant role in strategy and problem-solving, and spending more time in meetings with non-technical coworkers. For example, a Big Data architect acts as a bridge between the business needs and the data, or you might find yourself in a position in which you have to make analytics make sense to people outside of your department. Consider taking business classes online to understand business objectives better or joining a group like Toastmasters to improve your presentation skills. 

4. Join Professional Associations 

Speaking of joining, if you haven’t yet become involved in a professional association, make that part of your leveling up effort. You can join groups online or in person. Only make sure you participate. Simply becoming a member won’t give your Big Data career a boost. Actively participating will, as you expand your knowledge and your network. And it could be that your next Big Data job is discovered through that network.

Bonus Tip: Always Track Your Progress

Finally, just in case you’re investing in your Big Data career, but it’s not apparent to others, such as your manager, track your progress. If you earn a certification or take a class, make a note of it. If you nail a presentation, make a note of that. If you participate in a panel discussion through a professional organization or contribute a blog post, make a note of those accomplishments too. These are all the things you should record for that time of the year when you have your performance appraisal, but having this information stored in one place will also be invaluable should an opportunity become available, and you need to demonstrate your abilities to take on that new role. 

No matter the career you’re working on, whether it’s Big Data or something else, you alone are responsible for your career growth and success. That means you must be proactive about investing in yourself, continuously learning, so you are always ready to level up. Besides, your next level up might come about because you were the one ready for the next step when the opportunity arose!

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