This is one of the hottest career fields in the country—here’s how to get your foot in the door

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data analytics
Karla Hildebrand found her home in data analytics. Could you? (Sam Thigpen / UNA)

Got a knack for problem solving? Data analytics might just be the field for you. 

Keep reading to meet Karla Hildebrand, a data analytics student at the University of North Alabama (UNA), and learn more about one of the fast-growing fields in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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Meet Karla Hildebrand

data analytics
Karla is a star student. (Sam Thigpen / UNA)

College wasn’t the original plan for Karla Hildebrand, who started working as a real estate agent in the Huntsville area right after her 2018 graduation from Bob Jones High School. 

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Karla decided it was time to pursue higher education, so she started working on her associate’s degree at Wallace State. Ever the over-achiever, Karla finished her two-year associate’s degree in half that time, and soon began looking for a four-year university where she could complete her bachelor’s degree. 

Proximity and affordability led her to UNA, but the one-on-one attention kept her there. 

“When I was talking to UNA, they just really wanted me there. I felt like I was not a number to the school. Everyone was super excited and willing to sit down and answer any questions.”

Karla Hildebrand, UNA Data Analytics student

Finding her place in data analytics

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Karla is a leader both inside the classroom and out. (Karla Hildebrand)

Karla is now involved in just about everything UNA has to offer, including the American Marketing Association (she’s the president), LaGrange Society, Honors College (student + mentor) and Women in Business (co-vice president), to name a few. 

A student “blessed with the gift of gab” with a talent and proclivity for math, Karla started out at UNA as a management student, but soon realized that wasn’t quite the right fit for her. Fortunately, she’s found her home in data analytics, which will allow her to combine her academic talents with her bubbly and outgoing personality. 

“I’ve just fallen in love with business. I would love to explain things to people and help solve problems…I want to help bridge that gap and help people be successful in their business endeavors. People and math make me happy.”

Karla Hildebrand, UNA Data Analytics student
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Why pursue a degree in data analytics?

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Unique internships are one of many perks. (Karla Hildebrand)

We spoke to Dr. Michael Floren, data analytics professional and Assistant Professor of Quantitative Methods at UNA, to get an idea of what the career outlook for pro data analysts is like. 

Dr. Floren does statistical consulting for businesses and organizations nationwide, often providing opportunities for his students to get real-world experience through projects and paid internships and externships. 

Both inside the classroom and out, UNA students are working with real numbers and datasets to solve real problems using cutting-edge statistical methods. 

“I love that many of our faculty also consult professionally. That brings an element of real world applicability into the classroom that I don’t know is at other universities, and I think it’s a really valuable component of the data analytics program at UNA.”

Dr. Michael Floren, Assistant Professor at UNA

Data analysts work in fields from marketing to finance to sports and everywhere in between, and they’re in high demand—right now, there are more than 500 data analytics jobs available in Huntsville, according to Indeed. 

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Study options

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Serious scholarships await. (Sam Thigpen / UNA)

Whether you’re entering college for the first time or considering furthering your education with a graduate degree, UNA offers several different ways to incorporate data analytics into your course of study. These include: 

  • Undergraduate major
  • Undergraduate minor
  • MBA concentration

Plus, data analytics is one of three categories for which UNA awards Scholarships of Distinction. The following awards are available for undergraduate students: 

  • Purple (On Campus): up to $20,000/year 
  • Purple (Off Campus): up to $11,000/year
  • Gold (On Campus): up to $16,000/year
  • Gold (Off Campus): up to $9,000/year
  • Silver (On Campus): up to $12,000/year
  • Silver (Off Campus): up to $7,000/year

Think data analytics is the field for you? Apply now to be part of UNA’s next class. 

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Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips
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