With data being at the core of the technology, data analytics has gained humongous popularity over the past few years and has become a hot topic in the market. With billions of data getting generated every day, demand for data analysts with the right skill set and knowledge will keep increasing. According to Harvard Business Review, data science is the sexiest job of the 21st century.
Making a career in analytics is promising for people of all backgrounds, and there is an umpteenth number of opportunities that span across multiple industries for you to explore. According to IBM and Burning Glass insights, the number of positions for data analysts in the United States will increase to 2,720,000 by 2020. Keep reading this article if you want to understand who data analysts are, what they do, and how you can make a successful career in analytics.
Career in Data Analytics: What does a Data Analyst Do?
A data analyst gathers, processes, and analyzes the large volume of data from various sources to find meaningful patterns and insights, identify relevant questions, make predictions, and convert information into solutions to help the organization in the decision-making process. In layman’s language, data analysts convert raw data into meaningful information so that they can be consumed by organizations to grow their business. They prepare visual representation (charts, graphs, reports) of their findings to make it easy for others to understand.
A day-to-day data analyst role may differ based on the industry or domain that they are working in. In some organizations, analysts are also responsible for designing dashboards, maintaining databases and systems for various departments throughout an organization. A data analyst may also work with key stakeholders, top management, or other teams within the company. These include IT, finance, and database infrastructure to determine business goals and provide findings to achieve their goals.
Why should I pursue a Career in Data Analytics?
According to the LinkedIn Workforce Report, there is an exponential increase in the demand for data analysts from 2015 to 2018. Besides demand, diversity also makes them easily fit in most industries such as finance, education, government sector, healthcare, IT, networking, etc.
Here is a list of few reasons that can help you in choosing data analytics as your career:
1. High demand – There is no use of data until it is put to the right use. To translate raw and unstructured data into meaningful insights, companies are continuously recruiting professionals who have the right knowledge of using advanced tools and good command over the programming language to design software that can process a large volume of datasets.
2. High salary at entry-level and excellent perks – Being limited data analysts in the market, data analysts are paid very well in the industry even at entry-level. There is no denying that data analysis is one of the highest-paid jobs.
The salary of a data analyst also depends upon the education level, a candidate’s experience, the industry that they work in, location, skills, and certifications.
3. Shortfall of Data Analyst Professionals – As stated above, the demand for a data analyst is very strong, but professionals who possess the right skill set and knowledge to perform the task are very limited. This opens up an extreme number of opportunities to kick start your career in this field.
4. Diverse roles – Based on years of experience and skills, data analyst professionals are always exposed to versatile roles and responsibilities. There are numerous roles that you can choose from. All you need to do is identify your strength, what you are good at, and what exactly you want to do.
Checkout: Data Analyst Salary in India
Career in Data Analytics: What skills do I need to become a Data Analyst?
1. Programming Language
First and foremost, to become an expert in data analysis, you must have a solid understanding of at least one programming language. However, having command over more than one language makes you more versatile and increases your chances of getting a good salary. Some of the languages used by data analysts are python, R, Excel, and SQL. The trend keeps changing with technology, but the logic remains the same. It would be best if you focused on algorithms and fundamentals behind them to stay up to date.
2. Communication Skills
Insights that are gathered from data analysis are consumed by several departments within the company to aid decision-making. Hence, it is of utmost importance for a data analyst to convey their findings in a manner that is easy to understand for a vast audience. Strong presentation and communication skills are the keys to success.
3. Database Knowledge
Being a data analyst, you may have to work at the backend wherein you design a data warehouse to store a huge chunk of data from multiple sources in one place. You must possess a strong database and database query language knowledge to query the database to pull information from different tables to perform further analysis.
4. Data cleaning and interpreting
One should possess a strong knowledge of data mining and advanced statistical techniques to clean and extract unstructured data.
5. Analytical thinking and problem-solving approach
Thinking out of the box, keeping a creative mind, and having a problem-solving approach are key attributes of a good analyst. It helps you ask relevant and interesting research questions and build good repo among key stakeholders of the company.
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What are the tasks performed by Data Analysts?
By now, you would have a fair understanding of who data analysts are and what they do. Let us take a deep look into the core responsibilities that they perform on a day-to-day basis:
1. Gathering and processing data
A data analyst gathers the data from multiple sources, cleans the data, and then puts it in good shape. The collected data is used to identify trends and patterns to predict forecasts and insights. They make use of different tools to fulfil this task.
2. Identifying trends and patterns
Data analysts help in decision making, which plays a major role in the success of an organization. They translate raw and unstructured data into meaningful information to predict future forecasts, identify what went wrong in the previous quarters, and what new goals must be added for generating more sales. They should have an analytical, creative, and problem-solving mindset to provide recommendations beneficial for the business.
3. Preparing a report to record the findings
Insights found by a data analyst are useless until it is conveyed in the right context to the audience. Hence, it is the most important responsibility of a data analyst to prepare reports using a flowchart, graphs, bars, pie-charts, diagrams, tables, etc. so that people can easily consume findings. A data analyst always identifies his/her audience to prepare a report that can be understood by each decision-maker.
How should you kick-start a Career in Data Analytics?
1. Select the right role
As stated above, the data science field is very diverse, with never-ending opportunities. You must have a strong understanding of current technology trends, how data analysts drive business decisions, tools in demand, and how data science can shape the future to get a good grasp of what you do and evolve with the organization you work for.
Staying in touch with key stakeholders, top management will help you achieve the same. Do not hesitate to ask the right question to understand the different roles of a data analyst. This will help you in deciding the role that suits best to your skill set and requirements.
2. Join a Science Diploma or certification course
Understand the role that you need to perform and take appropriate guidance and mentorship from experts in this field. You must keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date with the role you need to perform. Take a step further and go for the PG diploma or certification courses to better perform your duties and strengthen your knowledge.
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3. Learn to code: choose a programming language.
You must master a programming language to become an expert in data analysis. Python and R are the most popular languages. Select the language that you are comfortable with and learn until you have good command over it.
4. Join Data Analysts community and forums
This is one of the most important steps but often overlooked. You must join a data science forum, community group, or take active participation in technical discussions to know what is happening around, how data analysis is shaping the business goals, etc.
5. Enhance your communication skills
What if you have humongous knowledge but have no idea of conveying the same to others. Watch videos or take courses to enhance your presentation and communication skills. Learn different tools to present your findings conveniently and intuitively to the key stakeholders of the organization.
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6. Focus on practical applications
Don’t just read theory, also put the knowledge to test. Start developing applications that can do your work in less time and collate data from multiple sources with less coding. You can also take a few freelancing projects to work on different datasets.
Being one of the highest-paying jobs, data analysts are in huge demand all over the world. Where the demand is going up steadily, there are not enough resources to meet the demand. This shortfall is seen across the globe. Since data plays a vital role in the success of a business, companies are in the utmost need to hire professionals who can interpret this data and put it to good use.
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This urge has led to a shift in the analyst role. With each passing day, the data analyst role is becoming more complex. Therefore, analysts must keep themselves engaged continuously in learning new tools, methods, and technology to do the task right. A good analyst with machine learning, programming language, advanced tool knowledge can rule over the ocean of Big Data and become a crucial asset for the business.
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Do data analysts need to code?
There is no requirement for advanced coding skills when it comes to data analysts. Instead, they just need to focus on having more experience using different analytics tools and software and a proper understanding of data visualization software and data management programs. If you are not very much proficient in coding, you can still find a decent job as a data analyst in any company.
Learning proper programming and coding comes under the job role of a data scientist. However, it is usual to find a data analyst with proper command over R, SQL, and Python. But, it is not mandatory to possess coding skills as data analysts work with data and prepare actionable insights from it without any coding.
What are some of the essential skills for data analysts?
One needs to work on a combination of skills for thriving at work as well as land a good job in the field of data analytics. The right set of skills can make it really easy for you to land a decent role in any company. This is the reason why one needs to learn certain skills in parallel with the degrees and certification programs.
Some of the top skills that every data analyst needs to possess are:
1. Microsoft Excel.
2. Machine Learning.
3. Presentation Skills.
4. Data Visualization.
5. Critical Thinking.
6. Structured Query Language (SQL).
7. Python or R-Statistical Programming
Once you have these skills, it becomes easy to get a job in any organization for a data analyst role.
Do data analysts need to be good at math?
Data analysts need to move around numbers. So, one has to be proficient in math for becoming a data analyst, as it is considered the building block for this role. One has to be clear with college-level algebra and be able to deal with word problems and convert them into mathematic expressions.
Other than that, one also needs to possess a basic understanding of functions, different types of graphs, and the relationship between functions and graphs in a complete manner. At last, one needs to be well-versed with linear algebra and calculus. So, you definitely need to be good at math to become a data analyst.