One of our career counselors got an email the other day with this simple question: “ How to Become a Data Analyst?”. In fact, we get this question almost every other day. The interest and excitement in the data analytics space are not surprising as an increased number of organizations have started to understand the power of using data to drive business growth. A career as a data analyst can be very productive and rewarding as the analytics industry has grown to $3.03 billion in size and is anticipated to double by the end of 2025.
Do you have a knack for problem-solving? Do you enjoy number crunching? Does curiosity fuel you? Are you someone with a high creative spirit? Maybe you love doing mathematical–cartwheels on your fingertips. Can you see your analytical findings reaping profits for the organization? If so, then a career as a data analyst may be your calling.
Fundamentally, to learn how to become a data analyst is the same as to pursue a career path in any industry: hard work is directly proportional to success, not mere talent. However, many professionals still misconceive a data analyst job role to be industry exclusive and specific to niche personas like the math wizards, the stat geeks, the prodigy! These are some myths that often deter people from pursuing a career as a data analyst. Well, this article will put an end to all such fallacies, and by the end of the article, we hope you will be able to sketch out a perfect plan on “how to become a data analyst.”
Let’s go over the steps you need to follow:
Step 1 – Data Analyst Education and Training Requirements
Expect that you will require at least a Bachelor’s Degree to become a data analyst, preferably in Information Technology, Computer Science, Maths, or Statistics. However, some people become data analysts even with just a strong foundational data analytics training. This usually holds true for professionals who already have relevant–industry experience and a strong affinity towards math and statistics. Many data analysts can also go on to pursue their master’s degree or Ph.D. as they move ahead in their career to senior executive and analytics management job roles.
One can also go over the non-traditional paths like online certified data analytics courses or boot camps to pursue a data analyst role. For instance, eLearning providers like Springboard offer a mentor guided online data analytics course to become a data analyst in 6 months.
Step 2 – Acquire Core Data Analyst Skills
If you are on the road to clicking on the “Apply” button for data analytics jobs, you’ll need to have these essential analytics skills under your belt as a new data analyst-
- Data analysts speak with numbers so it is obvious that math is an essential building block to become a data analyst. Knowledge of linear algebra and multivariable calculus is a must to translate business problems into mathematical expressions.
- Probability and Statistics – These are the foundational skills for anyone who wants to become a data analyst. To derive accurate conclusions, you need to know the likelihood of the occurrence of an event which is nothing but a probability. Further to make inferences and interpret data you need to know when and how to apply various statistical tests and techniques.
- Programming is definitely one of the most integral parts of data analysis. So, learn one or more programming languages such as Python, Java, SQL, R for data management and exploration.
This is not an exhaustive list of the data analyst skills you need to acquire but definitely the must-have skills on a data analyst resume. When applying for data analytics jobs, these data analyst skills prove you have a strong foundation to be successful in the position.
Step 3 – Gain Analytics Experience
Most employers of data analysts require that candidates have at least 3-5 years of experience in the IT industry or one or more years of relevant analytics experience. The best way to gain this experience is to pursue an analytics internship even if the stipend is less because the experience you gain for data analytics jobs is more valuable than the money. Internships not just get you experience–but also provide a bird view of what one does as a data analyst. Some of the companies to apply for an analytics internship are Amazon, FedEx, Next Data Science, Decathlon, Vidooly, Payzello, Prizmatics, Wipro, and Accenture.
The next best thing to gain experience is to work on various data analysis projects which demonstrate your active interest in becoming a data analyst and build experience. Working on multiple data analysis projects lets you deepen your understanding of various data analysis tools and techniques. Publishing these projects online builds a portfolio of your practical work experience. These projects will help you gain invaluable real-world experience while attracting the attention of potential employers. The best way to get started with data analysis projects is to explore diverse datasets available on data.gov or visit Kaggle that is home for over 25K datasets.
How to Become a Data Analyst: Success Tips
- Pursue a Data Analytics Internship: Students pursuing a graduate degree should participate in an internship to gain experience performing the tasks of a data analyst. This internship experience is a good start to impress potential employers.
- Work on a Data Analysis Project: Most of the bachelor’s degree programs in require completion of a project during the last semester of the program. Gaining experience managing a data analysis project from start to end demonstrates the ability to practically apply analytic skills to real-world problems.
Step 4 – Get a Data Analytics Job
So, you’ve graduated with a relevant degree and acquired all the required data analyst skills. You can now write SQL queries to retrieve data, interpret data, analyze customer behavior to glean rich business insights. In short, you are now 100% confident about starting your career as a data analyst. What next? You have now reached towards the end of your quest can now look for data analytics jobs with titles like junior data analyst or entry-level data analyst that do not require real-world industry experience. Starting your career with positions like these will help you sharpen your analytic skills further under the guidance of a senior data analyst who is well-versed with the know-how of the industry.
Step 5 – Advance Your Career with an Analytics Certification
As already we mentioned in Step 1, a Bachelor’s degree would not suffice if you further want to progress in your analytics career. Many employers will require you to get a certification to advance to senior-level positions. Some of the popular data analyst certifications include –
- Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) by INFORMS
- Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
These certifications will help you boost your average analyst salary but not much. Having said that the best analytics career advancement is to grow from a data analyst to a data scientist by upgrading your skills and certifications. Knowledge, learnability, and experience will help you go to the level you desire in your analytics career.
The bottom line…
You have always had what it takes to learn “how to become a data analyst”…It’s Now Your Turn to Make it Work
Now that you’ve understood the steps on “how to become a data analyst”, hopefully, you can garner the confidence to potentially pursue a career in data analytics. As cliché as it may sound but if you are willing to put in time and effort, there’s no reason you can’t succeed as a data analyst. Now it’s up to you whether you want to become a self-taught data analyst or attend a comprehensive 6-month data analytics course to take the first step towards becoming a data analyst. Regardless of the path you take, you’re sure to find success with the right mind-set. A professional hands-on data analytics program will shape you up with all the required data analyst skills to enter the job role with confidence