So you’re looking to start a career as a data analyst?
For some it may not sound like the most thrilling career, but for plenty of individuals they find it incredibly rewarding.
Whether you’re working for a company, the government or any other employer, you can use your mathematical and analytical skills in this career path.
In this article, we’ll talk about what education you need to become a data analyst. We’ll also talk about some of the duties you might be performing and what a typical data analyst job description looks like.
What is a Data Analyst?
A data analyst’s job is fundamentally just like it sounds: to analyze data. But that alone doesn’t mean much, especially since most of us analyze data every day. Whether we’re calculating how much is needed to split a bill or how much electricity we’ve used for the month, this falls under analyzing data.
But data analysts, in a way, act as a translator. They help take numbers and make them readable for people who are not trained to read data in the same way they are.
For example, they may interpret company data about sales or product trends. They will then turn that into a report where they can show the rest of the company if what they’re doing or currently selling amounts to a positive or negative trend.
What Does the Job Entail?
In addition to analyzing and “translating” data, a data analyst might have other key responsibilities within an organization. These responsibilities will likely depend on who they work for.
They may, for instance, work with a company that sells frozen dinners. They will analyze data that includes trends in the market and how well their product is selling.
By analyzing specific sets of data, they can help figure out how to price the frozen meals so that they will sell well and compete with other frozen items.
They may also work to solve problems related to costs or data analysis. This may be how your company or a city sector can use less energy or data. It may also be how they can reduce costs related to civic services within the city or county.
A data analyst may not always be called a data analyst. They may be employed by companies or the government under titles like “financial analyst” or “market analyst.” This is typically reflective of the type of data they are called upon to analyze.
What Education Does a Data Analyst Need?
Most data analysts will need at least a bachelor’s degree to start in an entry-level position. Some climb through the ranks with a bachelor’s degree alone. Others will go on to earn a master’s degree in order to give themselves a leg up.
The degree will depend on what type of data they are interested in working with. Some will major in economics. Others might prefer taking courses in business, mathematics, finance, information management or computer science.
But no matter what you choose to major in, you will need to have strong math skills. Therefore, it is recommended that you take as many math classes as possible to sharpen your skills.
How Much Do Data Analysts Make?
How much you make as a data analyst will depend on what type of data you’re analyzing and what company hires you. Typically, you can expect higher salaries than average, and you can expect to have stable and steady work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a computer systems analyst takes home a median salary of $88,000 per year.
Operations research analysts make a median salary of $81,000 per year.
Market research analysts take home a median pay of $63,000 per year.
Financial analysts make a median salary of $84,000 per year.
Management analysts make a median pay of $82,000 a year.
Will There Be Jobs Available?
Although the rate of growth for data analysts depends on the type of data you’re analyzing, all areas have a predicted steady rate of growth. Jobs are all growing at a rate of “faster than average” when compared to other types of employment available.
Therefore, if you decide to become a data analyst, you will likely find a job. If you move or are terminated for some reason, it is likely you’ll find another job relatively quickly.
What Skills Do I Need?
In addition to mathematics and statistics, you’ll need to know how to interpret data and explain it in a way that non-analysts can understand. Therefore, communication skills are key.
You will also need to know how to work a computer and will need to know your way around current industry software.
Additionally, you will need to have strong skills in collecting data and organizing it together. You will need to have strong public speaking skills, especially if you plan to work in a job where you’re often presenting data.
Depending on where you work, you may be called upon to problem solve. This may mean that you’ll not only interpret and pass along the data you’ve analyzed, but you may need to use it to solve problems within the government or company.
Ready for a Career as a Data Analyst?
If you’re interested in a career as a data analyst, you can take a look at some of the education programs that will get you there.
Our website also provides information for a wide variety of careers you might be interested in should becoming a data analyst not appeal to you. Click here to learn more.