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What Is the Difference Between a Data Manager and a Data Analyst?

Data has quickly become one of the most valuable assets an organization possesses. Information about customers, employees, productivity, processes, and more can be mined and stored for a company’s use. How companies manage and manipulate this information is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful strategy—whether it be an operational, marketing, educational, or financial one. 

Ever wondered what the differences between a data scientist vs. a data analyst vs. data manager are? If so, you are not alone. The individuals who ensure these data sets are being utilized effectively are data managers and data analysts. The difference between the two roles is how they interact with that data. Typically, a data manager collects, organizes, and protects an organization's data, while a data analyst uses this data to help a company make decisions and improve processes. 

That said, the definition of data analytics and data management has only one identifying factor—their job responsibilities, salaries, and educational paths can all differ to some degree.

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Four Types of Data Analytics

  • Descriptive analytics - Analyzing past data to gain data insight and understand what has happened in a particular context or situation.
  • Diagnostic analytics - investigating and identifying the causes and reasons behind past events or outcomes by analyzing historical data.
  • Predictive analytics - using the historical data set and statistical models to make informed predictions or forecasts about future events, outcomes, or trends.
  • Prescriptive analytics - using advanced techniques and algorithms to recommend the best course of action or decision to optimize future outcomes based on analysis of historical and real-time data.

What Is a Data Manager?

While it may sound self-evident, a data manager is someone who does just that: manages data. This includes the collection, storage, and protection of it. Data managers are typically employed by larger companies or organizations that collect a significant amount of customer information. 

Job Responsibilities

The data manager role can take on many responsibilities depending on the size and structure of the entity for which they work. Some common responsibilities may include1

  • Develop systems to collect data
  • Organize data in an efficient manner
  • Utilize data for the company’s benefit
  • Develop the company policy for data usage
  • Protect data security
  • Oversee data system operation
  • Supervise others as needed
  • Data analysis

You’ll notice that data professionals are expected to do a little bit of everything in their day-to-day work. If data sets are involved, the data manager is probably a necessary team member.

Salary Expectations

The expected salary of a data manager can be affected by several factors, including their career level, their location, and the organization for which they work.

Typical Coursework

A standard data management degree program may include courses in:

  • Information and technology management
  • Information security
  • Data analytics
  • Data acquisition and processing
  • Software engineering

These are just a few of the topics you may cover if you further your education in data management. You’ll also likely take courses in management and leadership to better prepare you for the supervisory duties of your role.

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What Is a Data Analyst?

While a data manager’s role is broad, a data analyst’s role is more focused, with a concentration on collecting and analyzing data for an organization2.  The purpose of the data analyst’s role is to help an organization better understand what their customers or clients need, or turn their analysis skills to optimize internal efficiencies. They then produce reports with recommendations on how to make changes to meet these needs.

Job Responsibilities

The typical job responsibilities of a data analyst can include:

  • Collect data from clients, customers, or other entities
  • Ensure data quality
  • Analyze the data 
  • Interpret data and make it useful for the organization
  • Draw conclusions on how to improve processes for the organization
  • Use data, analysis, and conclusions to prepare meaningful reports

Often, data professionals working in this profession will take the information they’ve produced and present it in an easy-to-follow format. Basically, they take data and turn it into a tool that everyone in the organization can understand and use.

Salary Expectations

Similar to that of data managers, the salary of data analysts will depend on their career level, their work location, and their specific employer.

Typical Coursework

If you choose to pursue a degree in data analytics, it’s advantageous to have a background in basic computer science. A solid understanding of mathematics and statistics can also be helpful. During your program, you’ll likely take courses that cover:

  • Data mining methods
  • Data algorithms
  • Data tools
  • Visualization of data
  • Advanced computer programing 
  • Database design

You might also consider developing strong communication skills and technical skills to be successful in a data analyst program as part of the analyst’s role is communicating what trends can be extrapolated from the data.

Some universities that have data analytics degree programs at the master’s level also allow students to specialize in a specific industry, such as healthcare. This can provide further information about the nuances involved in that industry’s data collection and how the information is used.

Data Analytics vs Data Science

Data analytics is a subset of data science. It's used to report and visualize what an organization's big data appears to be. Data science uses the outcome of data analytics to examine and solve complex problems. 

Business analytics also makes use of data analytics techniques to arrive at an informed and better business decision.

Data Manager vs Data Analyst—Learn Which is Right for You

Information technology is an ever-developing field. Due to growing industries like cybersecurity and cutting-edge technologies like AI, data protection and data analysis will likely stay top of mind for organizations looking to hire IT specialists.

If you’re still struggling to determine the right career path for you, we can help you make an informed decision. At the California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) at Alliant International University, we offer resources and guidance that can help you learn more about these exciting careers.


Sources: 

  1. “Average Data Manager Salary.” PayScale. December 21, 2021. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Data_Manager/Salary. Accessed December 23, 2021. 
  2. “Salary: Data Manager | Glassdoor.” January 04, 2022. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-data-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_I…. Accessed: December 23, 2021
  3. “Average Data Analyst Salary.” PayScale. December 21, 2021. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Data_Analyst/Salary. Accessed December 23, 2021. 
  4. “Salary: Data Analyst | Glassdoor.” January 04, 2022. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/data-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,12.htm. Accessed December 23, 2021. 

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