Principal information analyst

Principal information analysts lead teams of information analysts as they produce, develop and promote high-quality information services.

Before coming to the role, principal information analysts will already have gained significant relevant work experience. This includes health-related research or information work in medical or health statistics. Having a broad range of experience allows them to offer expert advice and guidance to their teams.

Principal information analysts usually take responsibility for:

  • managing multiple teams of information analysts
  • analysing and interpreting complex data
  • providing professional statistical advice
  • specifying requirements with customers
  • making sure their customers can make informed decisions

Starting your career

Subject choices

If you’re thinking of a career as a principal information analyst, useful school subjects might include: 

  • English 
  • Maths 
  • Information and Communication Technology 
  • Physics 
  • Computing Science 
  • Statistics 
  • Business 

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college, or a new job with NHSScotland. 


Foundation Apprenticeships

A Foundation Apprenticeship might help you build relevant skills and experience for a role as a principal information analyst.

Find out more about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Business Skills.

Modern Apprenticeships

Begin or continue your career journey towards becoming a principal information analyst with a Modern Apprenticeship in Data Analytics Technical. 

Graduate Apprenticeships

A Graduate Apprenticeship is a great chance to learn relevant technical skills while gaining valuable work experience. 

Find out more about the Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science. 

College and university

You might choose to go to college or university before working as a senior information analyst. Useful degree subjects for the role include: 

  • Social Science
  • Business Management
  • Operational Research 
  • Statistics 
  • Data Science  
  • Mathematics 

There are many education pathways for this role. Studying college or university subjects other than those listed above could still lead to a role in information analytics.

Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you could get into higher education through the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP).

Many universities also provide access programmes to help you get the degree entry qualifications you need.

Search for college or university courses on My World of Work. 

The role

As an NHSScotland principal information analyst, you could be managing up to 3 teams. You’ll promote best practice to improve existing datasets and help develop new data collections to support information needs.

Principal information analysts are also part of a senior management team. This means that you’ll be working with other senior managers to develop the business plan of your Service Area.

In your role, you’ll also provide expert advice and guidance on statistical matters to both internal and external customers.

What you’ll do

Your tasks could include:

  • coaching, developing, and line-managing multiple staff
  • developing and delivering Service Area business plans
  • contributing to the senior management team
  • analysing and interpreting complex data
  • using multiple data sources and analytics tools
  • providing informed insights and supporting decision making
  • presenting data effectively using data visualisation techniques
  • helping customers access and analyse data sets
  • supporting academic research projects
  • compiling and presenting statistics to colleagues and partner organisations

Top skills

Top skills for a role as a principal information analyst include:

  • communication
  • leadership
  • flexibility
  • analysis
  • attention to detail
  • accuracy
  • organisation
  • teamwork

You’ll also have knowledge and experience of:

  • project management
  • cleaning, merging, reshaping, and formatting data
  • Microsoft Office, particularly Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access
  • data visualisation tools, like Tableau, Shiny by RStudio, Plotly, GIS mapping, and D3
  • programming languages, such as R, Python, SQL, or SPSS
  • data protection and confidentiality principles

Who you’ll work with

As a principal information analyst, you could be working with:

  • information analysts
  • data analysts
  • data scientists
  • project managers
  • data managers
  • information managers
  • information governance
  • graphic designers
  • digital designers

Other NHSScotland healthcare professionals might also require your knowledge and expertise, including clinicians.

As a principal information analyst, you could be helping those outside NHSScotland to access and understand your data sets, including:

  • academics
  • civil servants
  • the media
  • members of the public

Working environment

Principal information analysts can work in an office or remotely.

Did you know

Public Health Scotland launched on 1st April 2020. In order to gain insights into NHSScotland’s data, this new national Health Board employs:

  • information analysts
  • senior information analysts
  • principal information analysts

Learning and development

With training and experience, you could move into more senior supervisory or management roles, such as service manager or head of service. This role might mean that you’re responsible for a broader team of staff and for managing a larger budget.

Professional bodies