High-demand data analytics certificate geared toward working adults

One of the best aspects of community college is the ability to stay agile and respond quickly to workforce needs. We’re able to hear the demands of prospective students and local industry, and create new programs – such as the proposed data analytics certificate geared toward working professionals.

Professor Christine Morris currently heads the associate degree program in data analytics at NCC, which transfers into a bachelor’s program at UNH Manchester. The comprehensive associate-to-bachelor’s pathway prepares grads for careers as data scientists; a position that designs data programs. However, employers across industries are increasingly seeking out data analysts; those who manage data and generate reports to visualize data.

Working professionals interested in data analytics typically have college credits, and just need the core classes found in a certificate, versus the general education plus core classes in the associate degree pathway. They also need to get the credential quickly. “This is where the market is; we currently have an associate program, but not many people from high school are thinking about data science as a career. Most people who know it’s important to deal with data are in the workforce,” said Professor Morris.

Professor Morris proposed the certificate program, and cited research on the demand, growth potential, and salaries for data science careers. For instance, the TopUniversities article “Why Studying Data Analytics is the Smartest Move You Could Make in 2018” stated big data jobs will grow by 4.4 million by 2024. Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts also have 3,800 data-related positions open on Indeed.com. The average earning of a data analyst is $75,000 according to glassdoor.com with related job titles of: Data analyst, financial analyst, risk analyst, business analyst, health data analyst, and technical analyst. These positions serve industry sectors such as: Manufacturing, insurance, finance, health care, social assistance, and educational services. Employers include: BAE Systems, Ellucian, Fidelity, Liberty Mutual, Oracle, and Eversource.

The diversity of the data analytics advisory board at NCC reinforces the broad appeal of the program with Catholic medical Center, Elliot Hospital, Nielsen, Sun Life Financial, and a list of educators.

The proposal details an eight-course hybrid program delivered online and on campus Saturdays. “We’re trying to minimize the time during the week, but it’s not fully online,” Morris said, noting the Saturday classroom time will provide in-person support an online-only program would not have.

The existing data analytics associate degree will also undergo a redesign to incorporate more data analytics courses. This will better prepare students to immediately begin work with an associate degree if they choose not to continue on for a bachelor’s.

The proposal will now be reviewed by the community college system leadership in Concord. “We’re on track for this fall,” Professor Morris said, “Either way, the data courses will exist in the fall at NCC.” Also, students who enroll in the certificate program can later choose to roll their credits into the associate degree pathway, which then transfers to the bachelor’s program at UNH Manchester.

VP of Academic Affairs Robyn Griswold praised the program development, “Christine Morris found what businesses and the community needed, and found the courses they needed for the student to be successful.” She said programs like the proposed data analytics certificate have been popping up around New England, “Every business needs a data expert to inform their decisions; this is really a high-value, high-skill, and high-demand type of certificate.” The proposal is a good example of aligning career training with the needs of businesses and industries. For more information about data analytics education at NCC, contact us at 603-578-8908, or nashua@ccsnh.edu.

Lucille Jordan is president of Nashua Community College, located at 505 Amherst St., Nashua.