How to become a Data Analyst

A data analyst job function can be explained in various ways. A simple definition is Data Analyst is one who analyze data by processes of extraction, mining and visualizing same data to help make business decisions or improve processes.

Skills needed to become a data analyst:

1. SQL

Structured Query Language, or SQL, is a data centered language used to query, store, and manipulate data in multiple database systems. This skill is the most important skill a data analyst must have.

SQL is a valuable tool for data analysts, so knowledge of its functionality is key. All job postings for Data Analysts have SQL in it’s job description.

2. Microsoft Excel

Excel is used to manage data for financial analysis to make business decisions.

When you think of Excel, the first idea that comes to mind is likely a spreadsheet, but there is a lot more analysis power within this tool. While a programming language like R or Python is better suited to handle a large data set, advanced Excel methods like Macros and VBA lookups are widely used for data analytics. As a data analyst, you can find yourself working at a mid-size company or startup, the first version of your database could be in Excel. Over the years, the tool has remained a mainstay for businesses in every industry, so learning it is a must. Also, there are multiple great free resources online to help you get started.

While SQL is often the preferred software for data analysts, knowledge and understanding of traditional, widespread spreadsheet tools is necessary. Some companies may prefer reports or data sets presented through traditional spreadsheet as excel.

3. Critical Thinking

As a quintessential data analyst, your ability to think is paramount. Think of it this way, you are paid to think and resolve problems. That is what gets you a higher paycheck.

Asking questions based on existing data means you are trying to figure out your WHY, which can often be difficult. To become a successful analyst, you must think like one.

Companies often task data analysts with both collecting data and interpreting the data for a specific purpose. Knowing what data to collect and how to process it, why there are anomalies in data are critical thinking skill that is vital for data analysts to develop.

Asking questions based on existing data means you are trying to figure out your WHY, which can often be difficult. To become a successful analyst, you must think like one.

Companies often task data analysts with both collecting data and interpreting the data for a specific purpose. Knowing what data to collect and how to process it, why there are anomalies in data are critical thinking skill that is vital for data analysts to develop.

4. Data Visualization

Data visualization can have a make-or-break effect when it comes to the impact of visibility of data across graphs, charts and so on. A data analyst must create high-quality aesthetic charts and graphs to present their reports in a clear and concise way. Some data visualization tools include Tableau and Power BI.

5. Communication

Data Analyst job functions include communication between colleagues, external team members and management executives, so improving your communication skill as a data analyst is very essential in this position.

6. Attention to detail

Ability to listen and understand your customers need is a vital skill for this position. Data analysis requires much attention and focus. During code analysis or methodologies that require a ‘How’ and ‘WHY’ scenario, attention to detail becomes paramount.

 Analyzing code or other technical details involves reading and assessing intricate coding or technical structure. Close attention to detail is a vital skill for data analysts.

7. Presentation Skills

Presentation skill and Data visualization go together. But presenting does not always come naturally to everyone, and that is okay!  Most skilled presenters get nervous but the act of practice—and then practice gets them prepared for the task. Also setting specific goals based on improving on flaws and focusing on the audience rather than yourself are ways of getting more comfortable with presenting.

8. R or Python

Both R and Python are open source and free. Anything Excel can do; R or Python can do better—and 10 times faster. Like SQL, R and Python can handle what excel cannot. They are powerful statistical and programming languages used to perform advanced analysis and predictive analysis on big data sets. To become an exceptional data analyst, you must go beyond knowing SQL and learn R or Python.

9. Domain Knowledge

Domain knowledge is the understanding of specifics within the industry the data analyst work. For example, working for a healthcare company require knowledge of the healthcare claims and provider data. Domain knowledge vary from industry to industry, so understanding the type of data you work on is very essential and a key skill to have as a data analyst.

This is certainly something that you can learn on the job, but if you know a specific industry or area you would like to work in, building as much understanding as you can up front will make you a more attractive job applicant and an effective employee once you get hired.

10. Machine Learning

An understanding of machine learning, predictive analytics and deep learning can be beneficial to the analyst to increase your earning potential. The use of machine learning tools enhance sorting and processing of large amounts of data within a short period of time. I will suggest you learn this skill.

11. Data Cleaning and Preparation

Data cleaning and preparation consume about 75% of a data analyst day to day task. This skill is essential to becoming successful on this career path. By extracting data from different sources and merging or identifying anomalies in data patterns for analysis purposes is a must do for data cleaning and part of data analyst’s task.

Data cleaning is not always considered “easy” but preparing data can be

a lot of fun when treated as a problem-solving exercise. In any case, this is where most data projects start, so it’s a key skill you’ll need if you want to become a data analyst.

12. Collaboration

A data analyst must strive to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to make her job easy. Collaboration is a soft skill to have on the job.

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