Data Analyst Career Guide
Data analytics is the collection, transformation, and organization of data in order to draw conclusions, make predictions, and drive informed decision making.
Data analytics is a multidisciplinary field that employs a wide range of analysis techniques, including math, statistics, and computer science, to draw insights from data sets. Data analytics is a broad term that includes everything from simply analyzing data to theorizing ways of collecting data and creating the structures needed to store it.
Companies around the globe generate vast volumes of data daily, in the form of log files, web servers, transactional data, and various customer-related data. In addition to this, social media websites also generate enormous amounts of data.
Companies ideally need to use all of their generated data to derive value out of it and make impactful business decisions and improve marketing. Data analytics is used to drive this purpose.
What does a Data Analyst do?
A Data Analyst’s role depends on the industry, such as social media, digital marketing, finance, business intelligence, and more. In general, they retrieve, process, and analyze large amounts of data.
As a data analyst, it’s your responsibility to turn raw data into meaningful insights. Following the data analysis process you’ll solve specific problems or answer certain questions based on data and the insights it provides.
You’ll then take these insights and share them with key stakeholders and decision makers, who can take action or plan for the future accordingly. At the same time, data analysts may be responsible for overseeing the overall processes for collecting and storing data, as well as setting guidelines for data quality.
A great way to determine what a data analyst actually does on a day-to-day basis is to look at the tasks and responsibilities listed below:
- Understanding the business problems, defining the organizational goals, and planning a lucrative solution is the first step in the analytics process. E-commerce companies often encounter issues such as predicting the return of items, giving relevant product recommendations, cancellation of orders, identifying frauds, optimizing vehicle routing, etc.
- Next, you need to collect transactional business data and customer-related information from the past few years to address the problems your business is facing. The data can have information about the total units that were sold for a product, the sales, and profit that were made, and also when was the order placed. Past data plays a crucial role in shaping the future of a business.
- Now, all the data you collect will often be disorderly, messy, and contain unwanted missing values. Such data is not suitable or relevant for performing data analysis. Hence, you need to clean the data to remove unwanted, redundant, and missing values to make it ready for analysis.
- After you gather the right data, the next vital step is to execute exploratory data analysis. You can use data visualization and business intelligence tools, data mining techniques, and predictive modeling to analyze, visualize, and predict future outcomes from this data. Applying these methods can tell you the impact and relationship of a certain feature as compared to other variables.
What skills do I need to become a Data Analyst?
A successful data analyst is extremely detail-oriented individual that can process and explain large amounts of information in a simple, organized manner. They should have strong math skills and business acumen, interpret data, and be curious.
Common tools for accomplishing these tasks include: MS Excel, Python, R, Databases and management systems, SQL.
Key technical skills for data analysts include:
- Math and statistics – You’ll be mathematically minded. As long as you have solid math skills, e.g. algebra and calculus, that could be sufficient.
- Programming skills – To create or tweak algorithms that automate data analytics tasks (like parsing or re-structuring large datasets) an element of programming know-how is unavoidable.
- Database knowledge – As well as programming languages, you’ll need some understanding of database warehousing software and to know database query languages like SQL.
- Excel skills – Commonly used for transforming raw data into a readable format, or for automating complex calculations, MS Excel is core to any data analyst’s toolset.
- Visualization skills – A core aspect of data analytics is the ability to visualize data with charts and graphs. This helps us identify patterns, correlations, and trends.
Besides the hard skills you’ll need to have a natural talent for the following:
- Communication – Communication is key in any job, but especially in data analytics. Obtaining accurate insights is the priority, but effectively communicating these to wider audiences is vital.
- Critical thinking – Arguably the most important skill in data analytics, critical thinking is the ability to question what’s in front of you to better understand it.
- Creative problem-solving – Problem-solving involves applying your reflective way of seeing the world to specific data-related situations or problems. You’ll take a step-by-step approach when defining a problem, devise an approach for solving it, and carry out the necessary subsequent tasks.
- Ethics – You’ll understand the importance of data privacy, be aware of your personal biases and be comfortable presenting outcomes.
While it’s important to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses honestly, the most important thing is to be enthusiastic about the field and willing to develop the necessary skills. Nobody hiring a beginner will expect you to be an expert right away.
Data Analyst Salary (US)
As of June 2023, the average salary for a Data Analyst is $75,125 according to Indeed. The lower end of the salary range is set at $49,042, while the higher end can reach up to $115,080.
How do I become a Data Analyst
You can find data analytics jobs in all sorts of industries, and there’s more than one path toward securing your first job in this high-demand field. Whether you’re just getting started in the professional world or pivoting to a new career, here are the basic steps toward becoming a data analyst.
- Learn The Essential Data Analysis Skills. Start with the basics of data analysis.
- Get Qualified in Data Analysis.
- Practice Your Data Analyst Skills.
- Create A Data Analyst Portfolio of Projects.
- Start Applying For Entry-Level Data Analyst Jobs.
Consider enrolling in a certification program to expand your credentials. Certifications show that you have a high level of mastery in particular areas of data analytics.
Certification programs require less time and money to complete, making them an excellent option for those looking to expand their credentials with minimal investment. Unlike degree programs, which can take many years of study to finish, many certificate programs take six months or fewer to complete. These programs can also offer a higher level of specialization in the topics that matter most to you and your industry than a general degree in data analytics or a related field.
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