Are you considering a career as a data analyst? Before you go down this path, make sure you know what a data analyst does. Without a good understanding of a career path, you might not complete the necessary training or education requirements.
Learning what a data analyst does will help you make a wise decision. Let’s look closer at the job duties and how to become a data analyst.
Job Duties of a Data Analyst
As a data analyst, you will be in charge of collecting and reviewing data. Usually, the data will come from many different sources and it will come in large amounts. You will likely translate data into information that can be used to guide decisions, too.
As a data analyst, you will likely have the following job duties:
- Assess the questions brought up by stakeholders and provide the necessary data to help answer their questions
- Convert numbers, figures, and other data types into information that can be used to answer questions
- Use data analysis to identify trends and patterns
- Use statistical modeling software applications to identify patterns and trends
- Translate data into diagrams, graphs, and reports for stakeholders
These job duties are very important and you will be a huge part of your job as a data analyst.
How to Become a Data Analyst in 4 Steps
Step #1 – Get your Bachelor’s Degree
You will not be able to work as a data analyst without a bachelor’s degree. You will need to get a degree in the right major to enter this career. Mathematics, statistics, or computer science are the most common options.
Step #2 – Complete On-The-Job Training
Most data analysts will spend time working through an on-the-job training program, once hired. You may spend a few weeks in training before taking on this type of career. It’s also common to complete an internship during college to gain the necessary experience and on-the-job training.
Step #3 – Become Certified
The right certifications can help you advance your career and earn a higher salary. The most popular certifications for data analysts include:
- INFORMS Certified Analytics Professional – This certification will show you are a well-rounded data analyst. You will need a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience to get this credential. It’s also necessary to pass an exam, agree to a code of ethics, and get a professional reference.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Data Management and Analytics – This certification means you know how to use SQL and business intelligence. You will need to pass three exams to get this credential.
- Cloudera Certified Associate: Data Analyst – With this certification, you will show a high level of knowledge with SQL, data analysis, and Hadoop. You will need to pass the proper exam to get this credential.
- MapR Certified Data Analyst – With this certification, you will show competence with Apache tools and SQL. It will require you to pass an exam, as well.
All four of these certifications can help you become more attractive for this career. You can also earn a higher salary with these certifications.
Step #4 – Learn Computer Languages
Even without certifications, you will likely need to learn specific computer languages to work as a data analyst. You might need to learn some or all of the following:
These are the most common programming languages used. If you didn’t learn these during your college years, you can take online courses to learn each programming language.
Necessary Skills for a Data Analyst
If you want to be successful as a data analyst, you will need the right skills. Along with the skills you will learn in college and through training, work on the following:
- Attention to detail – You will need to pay close attention to all the necessary details in the data. Excellent attention to detail is vital for this career.
- Math skills – You will need to have strong math skills to work as a data analyst. Since equations will need to be solved and statistical models used, you need strong math skills.
- Analytical skills – You will need to study quite a bit of data in this position. This means you have to have excellent analytical skills to be successful. Spotting patterns, examining information, and determining the findings are a bit part of the job.
- Machine learning – You will also need to understand machine learning and how to make reasonable predictions from large amounts of data.
- Statistics skills – You will need to know how to use statistics properly for this career.
- Problem-solving – With good problem-solving skills, you will be able to do your job better as a data analyst. It’s common that you will encounter technical issues you will need to solve.
- Public speaking – As a data analyst, you may need to present your data to stakeholders or coworkers. This may require you to have good public speaking skills.
- Critical thinking – This type of career requires you to think critically while you look at the data. You will be looking for trends and patterns, which require critical thinking skills.
These skills, along with those you will gain through education and training will help you become a successful data analyst.
Data Analyst vs. Data Scientist
When you become a data analyst, you will work with data, just as a data scientist does. However, these careers are still rather different. As a data analyst, you will sift through data looking for trends and patterns. You will also translate it and make it easier to communicate to stakeholders.
A data scientist, on the other hand, will use a more exploratory approach. They will conduct experiments to test the business hypothesis. They will also use machine learning to extract critical information and provide insights.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Data Analyst
How much can I earn as a data analyst?
The average salary for a data analyst is about $67,681 per year. You may also earn a cash bonus each year averaging about $2,500. With more experience, you can earn a higher salary from $70K to $80K per year.
Some of the top employers will pay more than $100K for experienced data analysts. Your location will also determine how much you make. Washington DC is the highest paying location followed by New York City, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago. All of these cities pay an above-average salary for data analysts.
Certain skills can also help you earn a higher salary. If you are skilled in Informatica, Adobe Analytics, Apple Keynote, Teradata, or Tableau, it can help you earn a higher salary. These skills can also help you get hired.
Those with a GCFA, GCIH, or CISSP certification will also see a higher salary as a data analyst. The right degree can help a little with a higher paycheck, too. A statistics degree, mathematics degree, computer science degree, or information systems degree, can help you earn a higher salary.
What type of benefits do data analysts gain?
Depending on your employer, you will likely get a benefits package as a data analyst. This will likely include health insurance with dental, vision, and disability insurance. you may also get a 401(k) with employer matching. Some will also gain access to paid time off, a health savings account, provided food, a gym membership, or commuter assistance.
Which industries hire data analysts?
It’s common to work in a variety of industries as a data analyst. Market research and finance are two of the most common industries hiring data analysts. You may also work in sales, investments, or one of many other industries that need this type of worker.
Can I work from home as a data analyst?
Yes. It’s common for data analysts to work from home or work remotely. As long as you have access to the internet, you can telecommute as a data analyst. This can be a big benefit for those looking to work from home. However, expect to need to upgrade our internet connection to be very fast. You may also need the right type of computer and software.
What is the work environment for a data analyst?
You will likely work at a desk in an office setting. This is the most common for data analysts. It will also be common for you to work with computers, prepare reports, and present data to stakeholders and colleagues.
What type of hours do data analysts work?
It’s common for data analysts to work a regular business day from 9 to 5. Those who work from home may be able to work the type of schedule they prefer. This type of career may require some overtime, but it’s not as common as it is with other careers.
Those considering a career as a data analyst should know the job duties and how to enter this career. When you learn what a data analyst does, you will be able to better decide if this is the right type of career for you. Make sure you understand the necessary skills and education for this career, as well.