Data analyst parsing out data on paperOrganizations collect data for many reasons. Any time you sign up for emails with your favorite retailer, you’re contributing to their collection of data. In this instance, they’ll use your data to send you coupons, offers, and newsletters that relate to their business.

If you fill out a survey with the same company, they may use this data to help them make more-informed business and marketing decisions. Your data may tell them what age group is more likely to buy their products or other demographic information, such as gender, race and household income.

Analytics – the applied practice of this data science – is used by nearly every company on the planet. But to be useful, it must first be sorted, cleaned up, and correctly interpreted by someone who understands it. This person is the data analyst, or data scientist, and they play a key role in a diverse field of industries, including: 

  • Medical 
  • Pharmaceuticals 
  • Retail 
  • Aerospace 
  • Criminal justice 
  • Forensics 

Analyzing data can help law enforcement find the person who committed a crime, or it can detect which age group is more vulnerable to a certain disease. It has nearly endless applications, and, for the right person, is a rewarding and engaging career choice.

What degree is best to become a Data Analyst?

Most companies require a bachelor’s degree from applicants who are applying for this position. This equates to an additional four years of college beyond high school. A Bachelor of Science in  Business Intelligence, for example, is ideal preparation for students who want to gain the right qualifications to become a Data Analyst.

In a program like this, you’ll complete coursework in several critical areas, including: 

  • Predictive Modeling 
  • Data Science 
  • Machine Learning 
  • Data Visualization 
  • Big Data Analytics 
  • Decision Theory

These classes will help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to turn collected data into workable business solutions. They’ll also give you experience in the tools data analysts use every day.

What qualifications do you need to get hired as a Data Analyst?

Analytics is a rewarding career, but it’s also one that requires specialized skills. For example, a management analyst who works with organizations to help them run more efficiently must usually:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in a related field 
  • Be computer literate 
  • Be a good problem-solver 
  • Have a solid knowledge of the industry 
  • Have the ability to build a good rapport with clients 
  • Understand and interpret data such as financial records, employment records, and more 
  • Reach informed conclusions regarding the collected data 
  • Be able to turn results into easily understood data visuals, such as charts or graphs

Analysts like these are often called consultants because, after they interpret the data and make conclusions, they consult with company leaders to suggest needed changes. Ideally, those changes will reverse downward trends and contribute to the continued success of the company.

Are you required to learn coding to be a Data Analyst?

Data analysts need a strong background in several programming languages. However, coding is not usually a requirement.  

Though many use the words “programming” and “coding” interchangeably, the two are not the same. Coding is the actual script a user writes to create commands. Programming is the process of using commands to create programs. Though coding is a part of programming, it’s a more basic process.  

As a data analyst, you’ll manipulate data using programs that have already been created.

Do Data Analysts have to travel or work from home?

Most data analysts are frequent travelers. Because they work with various clients, they usually spend a large portion of their time on-site. This allows them to more easily interview employees, talk with management, walk the physical layouts of the buildings and gain access to the sets of data needed to make informed decisions. 

As a data analyst, you may work part-time in an office or out of your home. However, much of your workday will likely be spent in conferences with clients or at their facility, gathering critical information. 

What tools do data analysts use?

Data analysts use a lot of different computer programs, and they must have experience using programming languages such as Python or R. Other tools might include IBM SSPS Modeler and SAS Enterprise Modeler to interpret large data sets, as well as Tableau or Jupyter Notebook to assist with data visualization. A firm background in Microsoft Excel and SQL is also required.

Steps to building your technical skills

The first step to landing a job as a data analyst is to complete your bachelor’s degree at an accredited higher education institution. This will give you the foundation and the data analyst skills needed to be successful in this highly competitive market. After earning your degree, you may want to pursue certification in focused areas, such as: 

  • Microsoft’s Power BI Data Analyst Associate Certification 
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services) Certified Data Analytics 
  • CompTIA Data + Certification 

Any certifications you earn by passing exams may increase your earning potential. They may also help get more eyes on your application when you first apply for jobs that require data analyst skills.

Benefits of getting an entry-level Data Analyst job

An entry-level position as a data analyst can help you build a successful and rewarding career that brings multiple benefits. Many students begin working in this industry immediately after graduation, meaning a bachelor’s degree is usually sufficient to get you in the door. As you gain work experience, you can then apply for different certifications in areas of specialization to increase both your marketability and your annual salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial analysts earn a median of $81,410 per year, which equates to $39.14 per hour. Meanwhile, computer systems analysts earn a median of $99,270 per year, or $47.73 per hour. Both positions have predicted average growth over the next eight years, which means an average number of new jobs are expected to open up.

But one of the biggest advantages to gaining data analyst skills is that you can use them in almost any industry. Every CEO wants their business to run more effectively and efficiently, and the best way to achieve this goal is through the collection and correct interpretation of business data. Therefore, with a bachelor’s degree in an analyst-related field, you’ll be well prepared to step into the analyst’s role in nearly any industry of your choosing.

Is  Data Scientist the right job for you?

Ideally, we’ve answered your questions on how to become a data analyst. Now it’s up to you to decide whether this is a career you will find rewarding. If you enjoy problem-solving, organizing information, and looking for patterns, you may be well suited for a job as a data scientist. And you’ll have high marketability and solid job security to look forward to. You may earn a better-than-average yearly salary, as well.

If data analytics sounds right for you, we invite you to apply to the Metropolitan State University of Denver to earn your Bachelor of Science in Online Business Intelligence. Contact us today for more information.