How to Become a Data Analyst How to Become a Data Analyst
Data collection has become more than a formality. From purchase tendencies to website analytics, big data has quickly become a tool that brands... How to Become a Data Analyst

Data collection has become more than a formality. From purchase tendencies to website analytics, big data has quickly become a tool that brands are wielding to improve business. Individual user data factors into analytical models and data structures which are useful to companies seeking an upper hand in predicting how—and why—customers act.

Data analysts help companies interpret their own collected information, identifying trends, outliers, and other useful data sets that inform future business. The data analysis career path is ideal for anyone adept at drawing conclusions from raw data and solving problems using data collected by a variety of customer touchpoints.

What Is a Data Analyst?

As a data analyst, you’ll have your hands in raw data daily. Data analysts are responsible for inspecting, modeling, and interpreting data beneficial in helping businesses draw useful conclusions. Often, this means separating useful data from large data sets and helping companies understand why the data you’ve found can help inform further operations.

The specialized career of a data analyst often requires a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field. Certain employers may also require years of experience as a data analyst, or in a position otherwise responsible for data interpretation.

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

Though a data analyst’s daily responsibilities vary, there’s one underlying constant: their daily routine is driven by a desire to better understand their organization’s data. Specific daily responsibilities often include:

  • Designing data models that help businesses better understand their operations.
  • Maintaining data databases for continued use by data analysts and other business team members.
  • Data mining, or leveraging data sets to draw appropriate conclusions on behalf of corporate leaders.
  • Creating user-friendly data dashboards that allow anyone to understand the data presented through helpful tables, charts, and other infographics.
  • Automating data sets to deliver relevant data through implemented spreadsheet and database functions and code.
  • Identifying implementation strategies that allow businesses to take data and use it to benefit the company.
  • Engages with stakeholders.
  • Compelling storytelling that motivates & inspires stakeholders to act on your data insights.

These responsibilities define the career of a data analyst, an individual who works continually on behalf of a company to improve operations through gathered data.

Where Do Data Analysts Work?

Data analysts often work at, or near, a company’s headquarters. Those further responsible for implementing data-driven strategies will often use offices in a company’s IT department.

If proximity to a business’s leaders isn’t necessary, data analysts also have the freedom to work remotely. Many contracted data analysts work directly from home offices. As long as a data analyst has access to the required analysis resources, communication tools, and reliable internet access, they can work from virtually anywhere. Data analyst roles appear all over the corporate ecosystem (and not just in IT). In fact, most data analyst roles are embedded directly in the business segments/functions like sales, marketing, finance, supply chain.

What Education Does a Data Analyst Need?

As a specialized position, data analysts are expected to receive at least a bachelor’s degree in data analysts/management, or a closely related field. Though not always necessary for an entry-level position, a master’s degree in data analytics can help separate the best applicants from the rest, further informing a candidate’s understanding of data mining, data mapping, and the science behind data acquisition. Advanced education and specialization can also be essential for pursuing a leadership or management role in the field, and the techniques and disciplines learned can help elevate analysts beyond the entry-level opportunities into new and emerging positions in the field.

What Skills Does a Data Analyst Need?

Data analysts build and maintain an adaptive skill set, since each day brings different data. These skills can include:

  • Statistical analysis. The ability to comprehend and draw conclusions from data sets.
  • Team communication. The ability to correspond with team members, and translate data sets into understandable trends.
  • Data-based reporting. The ability to regularly report on data findings in both spoken and written formats.
  • Problem-solving. The ability to answer corporate questions, and explain business trends, using sometimes complicated data tables.
  • Mathematical science. The ability to leverage mathematical formulas to make sense of presented data.
  • Platform use. The ability to adeptly use and understand platforms on which data is housed.
  • Spreadsheet skills. The ability to use an advanced command of spreadsheet data models to draw real conclusions.
  • Storytelling . The ability to take a business problem and a series of data insights and tell a compelling story that drives action.
  • Team communication.  The ability to communicate with team and stakeholder and build a partnership.

These skills help data analysts successfully fulfill their job daily, manipulating the numbers in front of them to help companies better understand their practices.

Article originally posted here by WGU. Reposted with permission.

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