Lord of the Data: outlining the roles of different data professionals

Do you ever feel as if the future of civilization rests in the fate of one data nerd? You, the Databearer, are now left with the daunting task of climbing Mount DataDoom in order to make sense of all the data, the business processes, the outliers, the obvious trends, etc. (this can go on forever). Do you find yourself being on the endless search to find the One Query to rule them all?! Perhaps you just need to take a vacation to get away from all the data Orcs.

Luckily, the HEUG provides a platform for all Databearers to share their expertise, so you will not always need to endure the data burden alone. At the end of the day, it will be your responsibility to climb that mountain of - at times - not so pretty data, but having a community to ask questions always helps to make the journey a little easier. Consider the Technical and Reporting Advisory Group (TRAG) of the HEUG as the Sam to your Frodo. To help you on this journey, the Reporting and Business Intelligence (RBI) working group of the TRAG has the honorable task to provide you, its loyal followers, with a plethora of information via multiple means, including webinars, articles, and more. 

As part of our “Let’s talk about data” series, we have attempted to illustrate the numerous definitions of data professionals. This is a non-exhaustive list and merely a representation of the most popular jobs out there right now (we googled “top data jobs” and these came up with the most entries). While we obviously focus on higher education, the research indicates that professionals in the data field possess skills that span industries and often are transferrable from one role to the other.

The objective of this blog is to provide a snapshot of the most popular jobs related to Data and outline the key elements of each one. Whether you are currently considering transitioning into a different kind of data role or are simply curious, we hope that you find this blog insightful. As always, we welcome and greatly encourage comments to all of our blogs.


Data Professional Roles and Mindsets


Known as…

Known to…

Dominant Traits

Business Analyst

The Analyzer

Take data, analyze business processes to answer questions and communicate results to help make business decisions

Strong communication and critical thinking

Database Administrator

The Ninja

Perform complex administrative tasks, is super prepared for disaster recovery, and has ninja-like focus

Problem-solving and tactfulness

Data Architect

The Creator

Handle Big and diverse Data like a Boss, solve big problems, work with various frameworks to do so

Technical pedigree and inquiring mind

Data Scientist

The Curious

Clean, analyze, and visualize data using statistics and machine learning modeling to make predictions and answer key business questions

Curiosity and skepticism

Data Engineer

The Optimizer

Develop the data pipelines, including maintaining databases and building APIs, to optimize data and system performance

Multi-disciplined and curiosity

Data Analyst

The Detective

Help others make business decisions by analyzing data, translating outcomes, and presenting results

Creativity and statistics expertise

Analytics Professional

The Storyteller

Create narratives with and about data over time and is the visual artist of this digital data-lavish landscape

Strong communication and critical thinking


Common, Unique, and Shared Skillsets


  • Top skill among all roles: Database systems
  • Data Scientist seems to have the most skills, followed by the Data Architect


Languages helpful for each Role to know


  • Top language among all roles: SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Data Engineer looks like they need/have the most extensive list of languages.



Complete list of sources:






















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