A data analyst is someone who collects, cleanses, and organizes raw data to make it useful for businesses. Data analysis includes different techniques and methods used to assess the extracted information. These techniques include using advanced computerized models, removing corrupted data, assessing the quality and meaning of data, performing final analysis, and, finally, presenting it to other members of the team.
If you’ve just started your journey in the field of data analytics, then this article is for you. We're going to help you get started as a professional data analyst. And don't worry, we’ll also cover data analyst salaries so you know exactly what to expect.
Build The Foundation
Before you apply for jobs, be sure that you have the skills expected from a data analyst. The easiest way to do this is by enrolling in a course. There are many online courses available that you can take from the comfort of your home, and are specifically geared to prepare you for career success. Online platforms like our data analytics and data science courses will help you familiarize yourself with the concepts that you need to know to start your career.
What Skills Do Data Analysts Need to Have?
Math: If you don’t get along with numbers, then choosing data analysis as a career could be challenging for you. People sometimes wonder, “where do we apply algebra in real life?” Well, data analytics is a field where you’ll constantly apply mathematical concepts such as algebra, calculus, and statistics.
If you’re already comfortable with math, there’s a good chance that you’ll start loving mathematics even more after getting into data analysis. Although, there is an ongoing debate on the importance of math in data analysis. One group of people says that it’s not required, while another group holds that it’s at the heart of data analysis.
The reason for the confusion could be that in most companies, a data analyst is often confused with a data engineer, and few organizations hire professionals separately for these roles. Data engineers work is inclined towards software that requires minimal mathematical skills, while data analysts work involves statistical analysis and data interpretation, among others. So, data analysts must possess the following mathematical skills:
- Linear algebra
- Probability theory
- Numerical analysis
- Core machine learning methods
Programming: To be a data analyst, you need to be an expert in at least one of the programming languages. Some programming languages commonly used by data analysts are R, Python, C++, Java, MATLAB, PHP, and SQL.
Pronounced as “sequel,” SQL is a programming language designed to maintain data in a relational database. Programming helps data analysts in so many ways. For instance, if there is a lot of repetition in your work, which happens a lot in data analysis, you can automate the processes to minimize your work and increase productivity.
Machine Learning: Machine Learning is technology based on artificial intelligence that minimizes human interference. It provides a system that enables machines to learn on their own. Machine Learning (ML) provides algorithms that allow software applications to accurately give out desired results.
Machine learning is used to make decisions and predictions based on data. While big data alone brings a lot of profit to companies nowadays, big data combined with machine learning is even more powerful.
Statistics: This is an important skill to have for an aspiring data analyst or scientist. A data analyst has to be good at statistics to ensure stakeholders do not face any losses due to statistical error.
Microsoft Excel: Companies assume that data analysts are good at MS Excel, so it’s important to master it. You need to be skillful at using MS Excel if you want to be an extraordinary data analyst.
3. Clear Communication: To be a good data analyst, you need to master more than just technical skills. You need to be equally as good at communication skills since you’ll have to communicate with stakeholders, decision-makers, and other data analysts to share your information. If you’re unable to present your views to your clientele or fellow analysts, then all of your hard work will go unused.
Sectors Where Data Analysts Are in Demand
a) Sales: A massive amount of data is generated from product sales. The data needs to be analyzed to recognize the factors that drive sales. Therefore, data analysts or sales analysts are always in huge demand in this sector. They evaluate and identify trends and patterns in sales by analyzing industry data from within a company and outside as well.
b) Market Research: Data analysts are usually employed by companies before launching new products to see if the products or services are going to be liked by the target customers. To do this, data analysts use predictive analysis, a type of analysis that predicts what would happen shortly after a product is launched. For instance, what would happen to sales if so and so happens? This will help the company save time and money.
C) Healthcare: Through data analysis, hospital authorities keep track of a patients’ history, which helps in an effective diagnosis. Data analysts supervise hospital data management and analytics. As a healthcare data analyst, you will be involved in retrieving and organizing healthcare data, analyzing the data to help hospitals deliver optimal healthcare management, and communicating your findings with management.
d) Government: Data analysts are in demand in both the private and government sector. Every government needs to know what its people need. They need to keep track of these needs in the best way possible. Data analytics can help to ensure good governance. Cities across the country have employed data analysts to carry out various tasks ranging from remediating blight to optimizing restaurant inspections and pest control, which helps to improve municipal policies and performance.
How Can You Become A Data Analyst?
The first step to becoming a data analyst is to get educated in data analytics. There are numerous options available both in class and online. We recommend Thinkful’s Data Analytics course because not only will you learn all of the necessary skills, but you’ll also have a 1-on-1 mentor and an unrivaled support team.
The demand is very high for data analysts, so you shouldn’t worry too much about a highly competitive job market. But as a newbie, you should be prepared to appear in as many interviews as you can after you graduate. Doing so will help you develop an understanding of what companies look for in a candidate. It will also help you decide what type of company you’d like to work for.
How Important is a Portfolio?
A good portfolio will increase your chances of landing a job in a company you’ll love. So, instead of doing mini-projects, work on building a good portfolio. Make sure to include projects that showcase your programming skills such as Python, R, and SQL. You can also include your group projects if there are any.
What is the Salary of an Entry-Level Data Analyst?
In the United States, it is estimated that data analysts have a median income of $47,000; however, your earnings will depend on your level of experience.
Here’s a list of different data analyst positions and their average salaries:
Entry-Level Business Systems Analyst - $56,043
Mid-Level Business Systems Analyst - $71,865
Senior Business Systems Analyst - $86,635
Business Systems Consultant - $113,302
Business Process Consultant - $106, 234
Business Development Director - $170,307
We hope you feel more prepared to start your journey as a data analyst. If you work hard, commit to learning the necessary skills and actively pursue some entry-level jobs or internships, you’ll secure a position in the world of big data.
If you don’t have any hands-on experience manipulating data, then a bootcamp will help you learn the skills you need, practice the art of data analysis, and build your portfolio. If you’d like more guidance to get started in your data analytics course, then the team at Thinkful is more than happy to help. We’re here to support you in pursuing the right educational path so that you can ultimately land a job you’ll love.