What Is a Data Steward? (With Duties, Skills and Salary Range)
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If you're interested in working with databases, big data and analytics, you may consider becoming a data steward. These professionals collect and maintain data, which can affect the performance of a business positively. Learning about the duties data stewards have can help you determine whether this is a career that aligns with your professional goals. In this article, we discuss what a data steward is, what they do, what skills they use and what their work environment is, then explain the range of salaries you may earn in this position.
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What is a data steward?
A data steward is an information technology professional who controls the quality of data a company gathers and the method used to collect it. They monitor all processing involved with collecting data, ensuring that the information is in the right format and organized based on the company's preferences. Data stewards are also in charge of solving issues with data, like managing data corruption or mapping data between programs. If an employee encounters an issue with data, they may contact the company's data steward to report the problem.
Data stewards typically advocate for the importance of using data to inform business decisions. They may find ways that data can improve their company's business performance and establish rules for the collection, storage and ownership of data that support the maintenance and improvement of that performance. They may help a company manage its reputation by protecting its data and providing data protection training to its staff.
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What does a data steward do?
Here are some of the main duties of a data steward:
Creating data processes
A data steward is in charge of how a company collects and processes data. This means that they create the processes through which all members of the company interact with data. For example, they may create processes for how to collect data, how to enter it into databases and how to share it between databases.
Creating uniform rules for how to interact with data can help employees enter it into the company database correctly, which may prevent duplicated or corrupted information from appearing in the database. Standardizing your company's data entry and data sharing processes can also help preserve data for the company to use in the future.
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Data stewards are responsible for maintaining the data and helping to remove any duplications or imperfections. This can ensure that the database works properly, which may help employees throughout the company perform their daily duties more effectively. When an error in the database occurs, data stewards typically assess the issue to determine what's causing it and then correct it.
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Managing data lineage
Data lineage refers to the concept of tracking the origin of a piece of data and recording every instance of its use. Tracing a piece of data's lineage can help data stewards find out where issues in a piece of data may have occurred. For example, understanding which department recorded the data can help the steward predict what program the employee used to enter the data and in what format. Following the data lineage can also tell a steward where to find the original data point, which can support them as they attempt to correct any inaccuracies.
Data steward skills
Here are some of the most common skills a data steward uses:
A data steward works with a company's data and the rules surrounding the use of databases in their department. They have a highly developed understanding of database structures, which helps them construct or manipulate databases for analytics or reports. They may also use their understanding to navigate databases and find errors in the data. By understanding how databases work and how information shared between databases affects the way they function, a data steward can consistently identify and fix data that's corrupted or compromised.
Data stewards often train other employees on the data protection procedures they create. To lead these training events and write rules that are easy for their coworkers to follow, data stewards may apply their verbal and written communication skills. They may also use skills to explain new procedures clearly, supporting their colleagues in implementing them quickly and accurately.
Additionally, a data steward may talk to a coworker who has discovered an error in the company database. In this situation, the steward may discuss the error with them and ask in-depth questions, such as where they first encountered the defect. This helps the steward to identify the problem and determine the best solution for it.
Familiarity with the needs of each department at their company can help data stewards understand how the data they collect benefits the organization as a whole. This can help them determine what kind of data to collect, which may support their coworkers more effectively, such as by improving their productivity. For example, if a data steward is collaborating with a marketing department, they may use their understanding of marketing principles to gather data about specific demographics and the way they interact with the company's current marketing campaigns.
Data stewards use their problem-solving skills to detect the causes of errors in the data and to determine solutions that protect the integrity of the data. They may also solve problems by creating policies and processes that help prevent issues that may occur during data collection and maintenance. Resolving these types of issues can help the company ensure the data is accurate and usable, which can improve its overall efficiency.
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Where do data stewards work?
Data stewards typically work in offices and use computers to complete most of their daily duties. They may also communicate on the phone, in emails and in meetings with their employers and coworkers to establish and implement data procedures. Since they often work on the computer, some data stewards work from home and ensure they have the proper security protocols on their servers and internet-based storage. Regardless of whether they work remotely or in an office, data stewards typically work a regular 40-hour workweek.
Data steward salary range
As more companies rely on data to inform their business strategies, there may be more demand for roles in data management, such as data stewards. Knowing the salaries for similar roles can give you a general understanding of the potential salary for a data steward. Data analysts, who are similar in rank and share many duties with data stewards, earn an average salary of $67,130 per year. This salary may vary based on the location of the company you work for, your experience and your unique background.
Database administrators, who oversee the creation and use of databases, earn an average salary of $88,894 per year. This salary may also vary based on several factors, such as training, skills, experience and the type of company. To learn more about the salary you can earn as a data steward, consider contacting your target company's HR department for more details.
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