If you are interested in learning how to start a career as a data analyst, then this guide will give you a basic idea of what you need to know. Data analysis is one of the hottest careers to join right now. In 2022, the average salary for data analyst is $69,517 per year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job growth rate of 25% in the next ten years. While it’s true that this career requires some degree of technical expertise, data analyst jobs are often open to non-technical individuals.
The good news is, that you can get started in this career even if you have no background in computer science. Many entry-level positions require only a bachelor’s degree, and many employers are even willing to waive the computer science requirement for qualified candidates. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a data analyst, read on to know how to start a career as a data analyst and tips you can take to get started in this lucrative career field.
What is Data Analytics?
Data analytics is the process of analyzing and interpreting large volumes of data to extract meaningful insights. Many of the businesses that have successfully transitioned into the digital age have made use of data analytics to analyze patterns and trends to generate insights. Business analysts rely on data science to identify and uncover hidden patterns and insights.
Data Analytics is a type of predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the application of statistics, probability theory, and computer science to build models to predict future outcomes and customer preferences. The goal of predictive analytics is to use statistical modeling to find patterns and connections in large amounts of data. It is this ability to discover relationships in data that makes data analytics so powerful.
Why Is Data Analytics Important?
Data analytics helps businesses make better decisions by providing them with useful information that they can use to improve their processes, products, and services. Some examples of how data analytics has impacted companies include:
- Gaining insight into how consumers behave and how this can be used to improve marketing campaigns;
- Understanding what the competition is doing and how they are using technology to gain a competitive edge
- Using data analytics to make more informed decisions about hiring, firing, and promotions
- Identifying where the most potential customers are based on their spending habits
How Does Data Analytics Work?
The goal of data analytics is to discover patterns and insights in large amounts of data. A process of data analysis has five steps:
- Collection: The first step is collecting the data. This is done through the use of multiple sources such as websites, mobile apps, and social media platforms.
- Preparation: The second step is preparing the data for analysis. This is done by cleansing the data, aggregating it, and transforming it into a form that is ready for analysis.
- Modeling: The third step is modeling the data. This involves creating a model of the data based on the specific problem.
- Visualization: The fourth step is visualization and this includes the visual representation of the data.
- Interpretation: Finally, interpretation is the process of discovering insights from the data.
How to Start a Career as a Data Analyst
Get Relevant Education
If you’re thinking about becoming a data analyst, start building a foundation in computer science, statistics, and mathematics. These are the essential areas that data analysts need to understand to properly analyze the data and effectively communicate its findings to a wide audience. If you’re just starting in your career, take advantage of any free resources that are available to you. One thing to keep in mind is that a bachelor’s degree is not required to be a data analyst.
Data analysis isn’t a field that will magically pop up when you graduate from college. This means that data analysts need to do some serious planning before they walk across the graduation stage. That is the reason why an advanced degree may not be necessary for entry-level jobs, having a foundational understanding of data analysis is.
To start your career in this field, you’ll want to acquire some core skills such as basic statistics, the fundamentals of statistical inference, and basic programming languages. These skills will help you analyze data in ways that are meaningful and helpful, but without knowing how to code, you’ll be stuck analyzing data in the same old, familiar ways.
An Associate’s degree from a four-year university gives you the technical background you need to get started in data analytics. It may take some time to master the specific skill set needed for data analysis, but your knowledge will serve you well in any career. You’ll also pick up some new skills that you can use in many jobs.
Education is not Enough. Improve your skills
The best way to start your career as a data analyst is to have solid computer skills and strong analytical abilities. These two skills are essential for the modern data analyst because the field demands data scientists to be familiar with the latest tools and techniques.
Data analysts need to have a good understanding of the field in which the company operates and how its products and services affect the business. Many data analysts have a background in statistics and are good at interpreting data and presenting their findings.
An analyst doesn’t have to be good at coding, but he or she should know how to program to some degree. Many analysts have programming experience that they learned on their own time or during part-time jobs. Others use a data analysis Bootcamp to quickly learn the necessary skills. Both options can set you up for success in the field.
The next steps are to build your technical skills and work on your analytical abilities. Analysts who don’t understand statistics or excel are often put to work writing reports that contain numbers and tables. They’re expected to quickly identify trends and find ways to prove or disprove them.
Here are programs you may use in data analysis.
SQL stands for “structured query language,” a formal language designed for querying a set of structured data, such as a database. You can program with SQL, whether in MySQL, Microsoft SQL, or Oracle.
Data analysis can be achieved using either R or Python. These are the two leading statistical programming languages. R is specially built for data analysis and data mining. Python is a Programming language used by many.
Excel is a basic spreadsheet that can perform calculations or graphs, and although it’s simple in its basic premise, it’s also incredibly useful. Excel is a powerful tool that allows you to analyze large quantities of data in a visual format. From basic charts to more advanced graphics like dual-axis and combination plots, Excel is great for presenting complex ideas visually.
Data Visualization tools let data analysts take complex datasets and present them more intuitively—typically in charts and graphs, a task that can be as much art as it is science. Learn about programs like Tableau, PowerBI, Bokeh, Plotly, and Infogram.
Skills Are Not Enough. Find an Experience
Start by contacting companies you are interested in working for. After graduation, many people who pursue data science or analytics degrees end up in jobs other than those working as data scientists.
Several reasons explain this trend. Data analysts may be hired in data analysis and consulting roles, while others may choose to work as consultants, or for large businesses that don’t need the level of expertise that a data science firm provides. Some even work in marketing departments. Still, others may choose to work for start-ups or as freelancers. So, while the data science field is growing, there are also opportunities in other fields.
Develop a portfolio of your work
An effective way to start your career as a data analyst is to develop a portfolio of your work. In addition to showcasing your analytical abilities, you should also show off the results of your work, both quantitatively (i.e., how did the numbers come out) and qualitatively (i.e., why are you proud of what you accomplished).
Showing a tangible piece of your work to potential employers is often a good way to showcase your expertise. Once you have a portfolio of work, your career as a data analyst just got a whole lot easier.
Once you’ve established your skills, you’ll need to develop a portfolio of your work. This is a good time to start building a portfolio because your career is likely to change rapidly over the next several years. So, don’t wait until your career is winding down to start building a portfolio.
The other big piece of advice I would offer is to build a portfolio of your work. It’s important to have a place where people can see what you’re capable of and, hopefully, think highly of you. As a business analyst, start building a portfolio of the data models you’ve built.
Practice developing visualizations and presenting them
Some data analysts start out doing data visualization projects as part of their job. Some specialize in creating reports, while others focus on analyzing business trends. Regardless of what role they end up taking on, data analysts need to be able to communicate with their clients and superiors.
Most people don’t realize that data analysis and visualization are more than just designing and creating beautiful charts. Data analysts analyze data from multiple sources and present it clearly and engagingly so that everyone can see it.
Final Thought on How to start your career as a data analyst
In conclusion, data analysts are information specialists who perform complex analyses of data. Their responsibilities are to examine data to determine if it is valid, accurate, and reliable. They must also determine the purpose of the data, where it comes from, and the extent of its validity.
Data analysts also work to verify and validate data by performing a variety of tests to ensure that the data is accurate, unbiased, and relevant. In this career path, data analysts usually work in large organizations such as banks, governments, consulting firms, or educational institutions.
When starting your data analyst career, it’s important to know that data analysis is a combination of technical skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. You may have all three of these already but that’s not enough to make you a data analyst. There are two ways to become a data analyst: go to school or find a job where you can specialize in data analysis. If you are already working and wish to learn more, there are many online courses available for free. You can also find training at local colleges and universities.