You have probably heard of a data analyst. This is a crucial job in the digital-first economy and it’s growing in popularity. What do data analysts actually do? Data analysts do more than just analyzing data. So you can determine if this is the right career path for you, we break it down.
What is a Data Analyst?
Data analysts analyze data sets in order to draw insights into what has happened and present coherent stories through visualizations. Data analytics, in other words, is the art of creating meaning from chaotic information.
Data analysts search for patterns, relationships, and other insights to help businesses move forward, be different from their competition, and make improvements within the company. The process of analyzing data usually involves five phases, including:
- Asking the Right Questions
- Data collection
- Data Cleaning
- Analyzing the Data
- Interpreting the Results
Data analysts can perform any of these tasks on any given day. Remember that data analysis requires you to be able to think critically and work with numbers. Are you unsure if the data is right for you? To find the best skills for you, take our interactive skills gap test.
What is the Difference Between a Data Analyst and a Data Scientist
You might have heard of the title data scientist recently. However, they are actually different roles in different companies.
- Data analysts analyze data to better understand past
- Data scientists make assumptions and create projections for the Future.
- Both roles work with data in different ways. You need to be able to distinguish the differences so that you can enroll in the right programs and prepare yourself for a career either as a data scientist or data analyst.
Data analysts, for example, typically have an undergrad degree that is in science, technology, or engineering and then go on to earn a master’s degree in analytics or another related field. Data scientists, on the other hand, often get a master’s in a related field or have years of experience. You can become a data analyst, then go on to become a data scientist.
The Typical Tasks of a Data Analyst
A variety of tasks are undertaken by data analysts in their daily life. You can work with technology teams, analyze data, find trends, or fix code-related issues. It is possible to be involved in a large project that takes several months, but you may also have smaller tasks that take up most of your time. Below is a list of tasks that a data analyst may perform on any given day.
1. Creating reports, visualizations, and dashboards
Data analysts spend a lot of time creating and maintaining reports for clients and internal use. Reports can provide insight to management and other members of the team about trends, forecasts, and areas that need improvement. Every report must decode the data and present it in an understandable way for someone not trained as a data analyst. This means you must be able to communicate well and understand your findings. They must understand how the data should be segmented, and then create dashboards that allow for multiple views according to the needs of each stakeholder.
2. Spotting patterns
Data analysts are skilled at using data to tell stories. This is what sets them apart from other data analysts. To make a report successful, you must be able to recognize patterns that can be useful for your client. You’ll see patterns in data that you can use to identify trends and weaknesses when you update reports on a weekly basis, monthly or quarterly basis.
3. Collaborating with coworkers
Data analyst does not mean that you have to only work with data. Other departments, such as the marketing department, executive team members, and sales, will be involved in your work. Data analysts will also collaborate with other data-related workers to create a complete picture of the data you are analyzing.
Data analysts must also understand the business questions they need to answer with the data and make sure that the correct variables are displayed before starting the analysis.
4. Collecting data
Collecting data is the most difficult and obvious aspect of a job as a data analyst. This is a major part of your job so it is important to automate and streamline these systems as much as possible. Many data analysts use specialized software to assist with this task.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Data Analyst?
Data analysts will use their programming and communication skills often. What are the skills required to be a data analyst, you ask? Data analyst says that you will need to communicate effectively with others to both understand their context and to provide information. This requires three skills: technical skills, communication skills, and analytical skills.
1. Data cleaning and preparation
Data cleaning and preparation is the most essential skill for any data analyst. This is where you will spend your time polishing data to make sure it’s in top shape. Data cleaning is the act of correcting or removing superfluous or incorrect data as well as checking for inconsistencies or incompleteness. You might clean out spaces between letters and symbols, or delete duplicates.
2. Data analysis and exploration
This skill is not as obvious, but it’s crucial to master your analysis skills in order to be a data analyst. You must be able to present your valuable findings to stakeholders and decision-makers in a way that is compelling and easy to understand if you want them to be implemented. This is best done by making your data compelling.
3. Statistical knowledge
A solid understanding of statistics and probability will allow you to better understand the data that you are working with. Understanding statistics will help you avoid common mistakes and ensure you are correctly analyzing data. The project and your role will determine how many stats you should understand.
4. Creating data visualizations
Most people don’t consider themselves data analysts. Data visualizations can be helpful in helping everyone see the patterns and trends you find. Data visualization software is an essential part of data science and analysis. Visualizing data effectively can help you draw meaningful insights, patterns, and anomalies. Every data analyst job requires you to create data visualizations.
The most popular data visualization tools are Tableau, Power BI, and Google’s Data Studio.
5. Putting reports together
Your job is to solve problems and find new information. Reports are necessary to help executives and stakeholders make informed decisions about the company. The report’s size will depend on the project. You can choose to have a simple table and chart, or a complex dashboard with hundreds of data points.
6. Communication skills that are strong in writing, listening and communication
Communication skills are essential for your job. Your job will require you to communicate with colleagues and find missing information. However, you will also need to write your analysis and make recommendations. Your analysis will be timely, relevant, and actionable if you take the time to get to know your stakeholders.
7. Domain knowledge
Domain knowledge refers to having a good understanding of the industry and what is important to them. You may work in an unknown industry depending on your job and the projects that you are involved with. To be able to analyze data properly and perform your job better, you will need to conduct quick research.
8. Problem solving
Every day, data analysts will run into problems. You’ll need to be able to quickly and efficiently solve any problem, whether it’s technical problems, missing information, or roadblocks. This skill is essential for data analysts.
These are just a few of the skills that data analysts need to be proficient in.
- Microsoft Excel
- Google Sheets
- Python or R
- Microsoft Power BI
- Notebooks by Jupyter
Do Data Analysts Need to be Good at Math?
A background in math will give you an advantage over your competition, which will help you to stand out long-term. It’s possible to be a benefit even in an industry that is not related, such as finance.
If you don’t like numbers, a career in data analysis might not be for you. However, you don’t need to be a math genius to make a career as a data analyst. Data analysts are required to follow a series of logical steps. A solid understanding of the business world and business will make you more valuable than a mathematician.
Why are Data Analysts stressful jobs?
Data analysts can have stressful jobs due to never-ending deadlines, miscommunication, and constant new information. It all depends on the culture of your company and your stress triggers. There are many aspects that can stress you out, as with any job. The following stressors are important to be aware of if your goal is to become a data analyst.
1. Continue to learn from your own experience
To be a data analyst, you must be able to work independently. Problem-solving will consume a lot of your time, so it is important to be able to work independently. It is important to be willing and able to work long hours to improve communication skills, business knowledge, data understanding, and your ability to balance tasks.
2. There is little guidance on how to accomplish tasks
Data is not something that everyone understands, so you might be given tasks with no guidance on how to achieve your goal. Data analysts are a stressful job if you prefer structure and clear direction.
3. The constant state of problem-solving
Data can be confusing. It’s often poorly organized and difficult to understand. You will spend a lot of time solving puzzles, finding missing information, and understanding topics so that you can talk to people who aren’t in the data to get the information you need. If you don’t enjoy the challenge, trying to solve so many problems can become mentally exhausting.
4. You will need patience
To be able to understand the data you are analyzing, patience, attention to detail, and trial and error will all be required. To be a data analyst, you must be able to work under pressure.
Many people don’t realize how vital data is to their business. Every task that you have to do to analyze data, no matter how small or large, will be crucial to the company’s success. This is especially true when stakeholders rely on your findings to make decisions.
6. Communication is key
Finding the right information can be a tedious task. It will also take time to talk to many people in order to collect new data. It will make your job much easier if you can communicate effectively with people outside your field. Data analysts must communicate with stakeholders and executives who are under high stress. It is important to be patient when communicating with them.