Data analytics is a specialized field blending various skills. If you want to be successful, you must be comfortable with learning and honing data knowledge, regardless of your industry. You’re responsible for gathering, cleaning, and presenting data to make key business strategies, so you’ll need a few helpful things in your toolkit to make it all happen.

Attend a Free Webinar

Our workshops help you start your journey to a new career, create opportunities to collaborate with like-minded experts and students, or teach you a new skill.

Let’s break down the six most important skills and tools that every data analyst needs:

Critical Thinking

Whether you’re doing initial data exploration, creating a dashboard in Tableau, or answering questions from the C-suite after a presentation, you’ll need to be able to critically think through problems and possible solutions on the fly. As a knowledge analyst, you’re literally paid to think–which takes time and deliberation.


The business world loves, and can’t exist without, spreadsheets. Data analysts need to know how to create, store, modify, and distribute data in spreadsheets. Modern spreadsheet applications–Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, etc. –allow you to easily create charts, tables, and other visualizations to provide answers for your team.


Data analysts need to be masters of Structured Query Language, or SQL. SQL is a management language that allows you to interface with relational databases, which are by far the most common type used to store data in the business world. Using this language allows you to ask more specific questions of your database, and draw out those smaller sections you are interested in analyzing further.

Presentation Communication Skills

In this industry, you don’t get paid to just analyze. You get paid to uncover insights and make meaningful recommendations. How you present those insights is critical. Successful analysts understand the art of presenting and storytelling with data.

Business Intelligence Tools

There are a lot of applications and programs that fall under this category. Some of the more well-known are Tableau, SAS, Looker, and Google Data Studio. Although these tools have important differences, the basic purpose is the same: they allow you to combine data from different sources in order to create dashboards and metrics to drive business strategy. Data analysts use these tools to showcase information in new and surprising ways.

Basic Programming Knowledge

While most entry-level data analyst jobs don’t require programming skills, more senior positions are beginning to make it a requirement. Knowing how to program can give you a leg up over other job applicants. The two most common programming languages for data analysis are Python and R. Through programming, an analyst can conduct sophisticated statistical analysis, create high quality custom visualizations, and interact with data APIs to retrieve data.

Now you understand the tools, it’s time to get the training. As a data analyst, you will be making an average of $69,292 a year, so explore our Data Analytics courses, or speak to an advisor to get started.

Want to keep working while you study? Check out Data Analytics Flex. Able to commit full-time and graduate sooner? Data Analytics Immersion is for you.

Launch Your Data Analytics Career

An online data analytics course aimed at helping you launch a career. One-on-one mentorship, professional guidance, and a robust community network are on hand to help you succeed in Data Analytics.

Share this article