How to become a data analyst – complete career guide
In a field as constantly evolving as data science, one career track that’s relatively easy to understand is that of the data analyst. After all, a data analyst does exactly what the job describes: analyze data. Analyzing data is something we all do every day. Every one of us constantly learning and taking in new information (data), and then coming to many conclusions and making multiple decisions as a result (analysis).
So in the simplest terms a data analyst is required to do exactly that – gather information, organize it, and make informed (or findings-based) decisions as a result. Worded more as one might see on a job description; a data analyst is responsible for understanding the trends and insights that are revealed in massive data sets, translating that info into behaviors-based conclusions or projections, communicating these to stakeholders, and ultimately influencing if not determining an organization’s decisions and directions. Data analysts are often hired by companies to help inform or improve business practices. This guide walks through the necessary steps to become a data analyst, and contains detailed job description, salary information, and future job outlook.
What is a data analyst?
A data analyst takes data and uses it to help companies make better business decisions. A data analyst acquires information about specific topics and then interprets, analyzes, and presents findings in comprehensive reports. Many different types of businesses use data analysts to help collect and analyze data. As experts, data analysts are often called on to use their skills and tools to provide competitive analysts and identify trends within industries.
A data analyst is similar to a data scientist but they’re not precisely the same job, but are often not responsible for creating the algorithms used for data discovery and acquisition. Rather than creating their own data projects, data analysts often find themselves tackling specific business tasks using existing tools, systems, and data sets. Both careers share a common goal: to discover how to use information to answer questions and solve problems for the benefit of their business/industry.
What does a data analyst do?
Data analysts translate numbers, trends, and trajectories into digestible and accessible information. Businesses collect data (i.e., sales figures, inventories, market research, profit margins, logistics, and transportation costs). A data analyst’s job is to take that data and use it to help companies make better business decisions. Often, the main goal of a data analyst is to solve issues that cost the company money and to help make decisions for expanding the business.
Some examples of a data analyst basic job functions include:
- Estimating market shares
- Establishing a price of new materials for the market
- Reducing transportation costs
- Timing of sales
- Figuring out when to hire or reduce the workforce
Data analysts are responsible for collecting, manipulating, and analyzing data. Data analysts use systematic techniques, standard formulas and methods to analyze the relevant information. They then typically prepare reports detailing the results from their analysis.
Data analysts might perform basic statistics such as variations and averages for a particular product over a certain time period. They also predict yields and interpret the underlying frequency distribution of a set of continuous data. They use the standard methods of collection, analysis, and reporting when completing their tasks. Data analysts always protect the organization’s data, making sure that the data results produce consistent, reusable guidance.
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|School Name||Level||Program||More Info|
|Georgetown University||Master||Master of Science in Business Analytics||Website|
|Concordia University, St. Paul||Master||Master of Science in Data Analytics||Website|
|Johns Hopkins||Master||Online MS in Data Analytics and Policy||Website|
|George Mason University||Master||Online MS in Data Analytics Engineering||Website|
|Utica College||Master||Online MS in Data Science||Website|
|Capella University||Bachelor||B.S. in Data Analytics||Website|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Bachelor||B.S. in Data Analytics||Website|
|University of Scranton||Master||Online MS in Business Analytics||Website|
|Drake University||Master||Online Master of Data Analytics||Website|
|Northern Illinois University||Master||Online Master of Science in Data Analytics||Website|