Data Analyst Jobs: A Complete Guide

Career Advice
Co-workers reviewing data and graphs around a conference table
Co-workers reviewing data and graphs around a conference table
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Do you love statistics and digging into data to help solve business problems? Landing a data analyst job could be an ideal fit.


Why data analysis

Key Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

Gathering data and reviewing it for accurate, valuable insights

Identifying key trends to drive business forward

Documenting the results for future use

Skills and Qualifications for Data Analyst Jobs

Basic proficiency in coding

Familiarity with database querying and SQL

Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

Knowledge of statistical analysis and data visualization techniques

Clear, authentic communication skills

Rapport-building collaboration skills

Career Path and Progression for Data Analytics

Landing an entry-level data analyst role

Specialization areas in data analysis and opportunities for growth

Data Analysts: Summing It Up

Our tech-driven world makes it easy for businesses to gather details about their customers, products, partners, competitors, etc. Data is literally flowing into businesses from all directions as companies today amass tremendous amounts of information about their customers. However, in its raw form, this data alone doesn’t help companies make strategic decisions. 

For that, you need a skilled team of data analytics professionals to make sense of the incoming information and drive good business strategies.

<h2 id="why-data-analysis">Why data analysis?</h2>

Companies across all industries increasingly rely on data-driven strategies to grow and profit. It takes expertise to gather all this raw information, evaluate it, and make sense of it in ways that can adequately guide an organization into savvy decision-making. The role of the data analyst is crucial enough that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects jobs in this field to grow as much as 25% through 2030—promising many opportunities for those wanting to move into a growing tech career.

If that intrigues you, read on to learn more about the exciting possibilities of building a successful tech career in data analysis. 

<h2 id="key-responsibilities-of-a-data-analyst">Key Responsibilities of a Data Analyst</h2>

A data analyst takes on the role of a business consultant within their company, interpreting the facts found in the data they study to guide decision-making. In this position, you will draw on strong math and statistics skills, keen problem-solving, and creativity to understand what insights your colleagues need—and then analyze the data to find those insights. 

<h2 id="gathering-data-and-reviewing-it-for-accurate-valuable-insights">Gathering data and reviewing it for accurate, valuable insights</h2>

In the day-to-day activities of data analyst jobs, you’ll meet with people in different departments to discover what they want to know. Then, you’ll create codes to pull relevant data from the company’s source materials—such as surveys, customer applications, and purchased data lists. You’ll figure out what data sources apply to the business question at hand, review the data you’ve gathered, make sure it’s correct, decide what insights it offers, and answer your colleagues’ questions in team meetings, reports, and presentations.

Because data analytics must juggle significant amounts of facts, it’s necessary to be organized and detail-oriented. The information you analyze must be high-quality so that the insights and trends gleaned from that data are accurate. This means that you’ll not only gather the data but review it to remove duplicates, errors, and outliers (a process referred to as “cleaning” the data). A conscientious commitment to accuracy and quality is essential.

<h2 id="identifying-key-trends-to-drive-business-forward">Identifying key trends to drive business forward</h2>

The data analyst’s role is all about the interpretation of available data to find solutions to business problems. If companies want to thrive, increase profits, and enjoy reliable opportunities for expansion, they need a foundation of accurate, high-quality information to start with. Like a business analyst, a data analyst provides this foundation by ensuring that all the information the company needs is collected in a streamlined way, evaluated for quality, and then evaluated for meaningful insights.

The data analyst reviews the information at hand and looks for patterns and trends that the employer can capitalize on. This vital process keeps a business on track and guides the strategic choices that create success in the marketplace. Skilled data analysis enables faster, better business decisions to be made around essential goals such as predicting future sales, developing new products and services, increasing supply chain efficiency, attracting and retaining customers, and assessing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. 

<h2 id="documenting-the-results-for-future-use">Documenting the results for future use</h2>

The data analyst documents the testing procedure they’ve developed so that it can be used whenever it’s needed. Then, they present the insights they’ve gleaned to organizational stakeholders. Reports must be shared in a meaningful, easily digestible form for non-technical colleagues—such as by using interactive dashboards and static presentations with understandable charts and action steps—so others can use the analyzed data to drive decision-making.

<h2 id="skills-and-qualifications-for-data-analyst-jobs">Skills and Qualifications for Data Analyst Jobs</h2>

To position yourself as a strong candidate for a data analyst job, it’s important to realize that your role combines both scientific and math-based fact gathering, as well as an ability to synthesize facts to spot patterns and trends in the data you’re assessing. You’ll combine strong technical skills around databases, coding, and report creation alongside a strong skillset in communicating and collaborating across different teams in the organization where you work.

Let’s dive deeper into what these skills and qualifications look like in action.

<h2 id="basic-proficiency-in-coding">Basic proficiency in coding</h2>

Your role as a data analyst means answering questions about customers and products and sifting through existing facts to make sense of them. Finding the relevant details in a mountain of available information requires automation. So, data analysts use programming languages like Python, R, and SQL to create codes that guide computers in sifting that data. To maintain proper version control of the code you write, you’ll use software such as Git and GitHub.

You don’t have to be an expert at coding to be a good data analyst, but having a basic understanding of coding and a willingness to learn new programming languages is beneficial. If you’re concerned your coding skills aren’t strong enough or you aren’t familiar with a specific programming language required at a job you’re applying for, remember that you can always take a training course as well as use coding apps to help you be as productive as possible.

<h2 id="familiarity-with-database-querying-and-SQL">Familiarity with database querying and SQL</h2>

Where does this data come from? It comes from SQL databases, Excel spreadsheets, and other data gathering software. So, understanding how to work with various database programs to find needed information is essential. You’ll also enjoy this role if you enjoy learning new skills—because the techniques and software for data analysis are constantly evolving, and you’ll want to stay updated on what’s new in the marketplace.

<h2 id="strong-analytical-and-problem-solving skills">Strong analytical and problem-solving skills</h2>

Once the relevant information has been pulled from various sources, it must be interpreted to glean the meaning needed for effective business decision-making. This is where the analyst part of this role shines. Data analysts must have a knack for assessing what they’re seeing and understanding what it means. They also need to be creative in solving problems that may arise—from figuring out why a code didn’t pull the required data to finding missing details and ensuring the data is high quality so that it will yield realistic trends and insights based on facts.

<h2 id="knowledge-of-statistical-analysis-and-data-visualization-techniques">Knowledge of statistical analysis and data visualization techniques</h2>

Once insights are gleaned from the gathered data, the next step is using what has been learned. The data must be presented to business decision-makers so they can use the insights to guide their actions. 

Data analysts convert what they’ve discovered into meaningful, clear presentations—usually in visual form, such as charts—to be shared with colleagues in other departments. It helps to be good at communicating facts and actionable steps in ways that are visually interesting, easy to grasp, and understandable to those who may not share your skills in data analysis and technology. 

You will present your data analysis using a variety of tools. Interactive apps such as Tableau, Power BI, and Looker are popular. You may also create static presentations using PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, and similar programs. 

<h2 id="clear-authentic-communication-skills">Clear, authentic communication skills</h2>

Beyond having hard skills in mathematics, analysis, and coding, data analysts also need the soft skills required to share their analyses in ways that are easy to comprehend. You’ll need to communicate clearly in ways that non-technical personnel can understand. Being a good storyteller helps because this role involves connecting with people, building rapport, and giving them useful facts that help them make solid business decisions based on the data you share.

<h2 id="rapport-building-collaboration-skills">Rapport-building collaboration skills</h2>

The ability to work well with a team is another key soft skill for a data analyst. This work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Colleagues from different departments help determine what goals they need to accomplish, and those goals drive what types of information are needed. 

In this role, you’re also likely to work with other related positions, such as the data engineer and business analyst teams, to accomplish tasks in a streamlined fashion. You will problem-solve together to create effective coding and check each other’s work for quality assurance purposes. So, a data analyst must have collaborative soft skills in a cross-functional team environment.

<h2 id="career-path-and-progression-for-data-analytics">Career Path and Progression for Data Analytics</h2>

The role of the data analyst is in high demand, making it an ideal job to consider if you’re switching to a tech career and enjoy statistics, analysis, and driving business decisions with data. Data analysts' salaries pay well, averaging around $40 per hour or $80,000 annually.

<h2 id="landing-an-entry-level-data-analyst-role">Landing an entry-level data analyst role</h2>

If you’re interested in pursuing a new tech career in data analysis, set aside some time for training so you can land a position as an entry-level data analyst. This may be as simple as taking a few months’ worth of coursework to gain a certification in this field or as thorough as the four years it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. Some companies require a degree in a related field—such as a bachelor’s degree in data science, mathematics, statistics, computer science, or finance.

But increasingly, it’s easier than ever to find entry-level roles by taking a training course through a certificate program or bootcamp. The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) and the SAS Data Science Certification make excellent choices for data analysis certification. Some entry-level roles to keep an eye out for include:

  • Data entry clerk — gathering and entering information into databases
  • Quality assurance analyst — ensuring products and services are up to quality standards
  • Data quality analyst — ensuring gathered data is accurate and clean
  • Business analyst consultant — analyzing data and making business recommendations
  • Entry-level data analyst — taking on beginning data science tasks

Remember that transferable skills for data analyst roles can include knowledge of programming language, math skills, statistical analysis, communication, leadership, problem-solving, attention to detail, and organization. If you don’t have experience in data analysis yet (perhaps because you’re switching to a tech career), learn programming languages, build a portfolio to demonstrate the skills you’ve gained, and leverage your network to get your foot in the door.

<h2 id="specialization-areas-in-data-analysis-and-opportunities-for-growth">Specialization areas in data analysis and opportunities for growth</h2>

As you grow your career in data analytics, you may choose to specialize. Many people take their passion for data and focus it in a specific area of the workplace—so you’re likely to see openings for roles in business intelligence or as a financial analyst, marketing analyst, operations analyst, healthcare data analyst, supply chain analyst, human resources analyst, and similar listings. These roles leverage data review and interpretation skills for business questions related to a single department or industry. 

A related field, data science, focuses on writing algorithms and building statistical models and requires heavy coding that you can grow into if you enjoy the coding you do in data analysis. Likewise, as a data engineer, you can build the systems that provide the information that data scientists and business intelligence teams interpret.

For those who enjoy the data analysis department, there are opportunities to rise through the ranks and gain promotions to leadership positions and managerial roles, such as a senior data analyst role leading a team of entry-level and mid-level analysts.

<h2 id="data-analysts-summing-it-up">Data Analysts: Summing It Up</h2>

In sum, the growing field of data analysis is vital to the success of modern businesses, making it an ideal career path for those who want to meld technical skills in statistics and coding with solving problems and influencing business decision-makers. The demand for this highly prized role continues to grow in fields such as healthcare, finances, business consulting and business intelligence, entertainment, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, and transportation. So the possibilities are nearly endless—with great places to work and opportunities for solid income and career advancement.

Many data analyst roles can be done remotely or in a hybrid fashion, and there are many opportunities to hold these jobs from anywhere. Check out opportunities for data analytics positions on our Career Seeker feature, and learn how we can help you land your next tech career role at inTulsa Talent.