How to Become a Data Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide
Reviewed and fact-checked by Sayantoni Das

With the increase in data generation, the term "data analyst" has found its prominence today. However, to become a data analyst, there are a set of required data analyst skills and a few steps that have to be followed. In this article on how to become a data analyst, you will get an in-depth understanding of what you must do to become a data analyst, unearth the skills required to bag this position and you’ll get a step closer to your dream of becoming a data analyst.

To fulfill the responsibilities a data analyst must possess a vast and rich skillset:

1. Degree and Domain Expertise
2. Knowledge of Programming
3. Knowledge of Data Analysis Tools
4. Understanding of Statistics and Machine Learning Algorithms
5. Knowledge of Data Visualization Tools

Your Data Analytics Career is Around The Corner!

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Your Data Analytics Career is Around The Corner!

Who is a Data Analyst? 

A data analyst collects, processes, and performs analysis of large datasets. Every business, be it small or big, generates, and collects data. This data can be in the form of customer feedback, accounts, logistics, marketing research, and so on. 

A data analyst is a professional who takes this data and figures out numerous measures, such as how to improve customer experience, price new materials, and how to reduce transportation costs, to name a few. Data Analysts deal with data handling, data modeling, and reporting. 

Once you know who is a data analyst, it's paramount to know the roles and responsibilities of a data analyst.

Read More:  Looking for a better career growth, Ankit Dongare decided to switch careers from Operations to Data Science. His search for learning about data in detail took him to our Data Analyst Master’s Program. Check out his experience with our program and his career growth in his Simplilearn Data Analyst Course Review.

Why Start a Career as a Data Analyst?

The demand for data analysts is at an all-time high. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of data analysts is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years. It is due to the fact that as companies undergo digital transformation, they are generating large amounts of data that they may need to learn how to process, manage, or use properly. It is where data analysts provide valuable insights and interpretations of data that can benefit the business.

Starting a career as a data analyst can be an excellent choice for several reasons:

  • Growing Demand: With the increasing use of data in business decision-making, there is a growing demand for professionals with skills in data analysis. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of data analysts is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years.
  • High Earning Potential: Data analysts are often well-paid, with salaries varying depending on experience, industry, and location. Data analysts can often earn competitive salaries right out of college.
  • Variety of Opportunities: Data analysts can work in various industries, from healthcare and finance to marketing and retail. It means many different types of jobs and career paths are available for those with data analysis skills.
  • Challenging and Interesting Work: Data analysis can be difficult and rewarding, requiring problem-solving skills and attention to detail. Analysts are often tasked with finding insights in large and complex data sets, which can be exciting and intellectually stimulating.
  • Transferable Skills: The skills developed in data analysis, such as statistical analysis, data visualization, and data management, can be applied to various other fields and industries. It means that data analysts can build valuable transferable skills that can be useful throughout their careers.

Your Data Analytics Career is Around The Corner!

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Your Data Analytics Career is Around The Corner!

Types of Data Analysts

Depending on your interests and skill set, you can pursue several types of Data Analyst roles. Some common types of Data Analysts include:

Business/Data Analyst

A Business/Data Analyst is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting complex data sets to help companies make informed decisions. They work closely with stakeholders to identify business requirements and design supporting data models. They may also develop reports and dashboards to present data insights to decision-makers.

Marketing Analyst

A Marketing Analyst uses data to help companies understand their customers and develop marketing strategies. They analyze customer behavior, demographic data, and market trends to help companies effectively target their marketing efforts. They may also build marketing performance metrics to track the success of marketing campaigns.

Financial Analyst

A Financial Analyst uses data to help companies make financial decisions. They may analyze financial data such as revenue, expenses, and profitability to help companies identify areas for improvement or growth. They may also develop economic models to forecast future performance and inform strategic planning.

Healthcare Analyst

A Healthcare Analyst uses data to help healthcare organizations improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. They may analyze healthcare data such as patient records, clinical trials, and insurance claims to identify trends and patterns. They may also develop predictive models to help healthcare providers make more informed decisions.

Data Scientist

A Data Scientist is responsible for designing and developing complex algorithms and models to solve data-driven problems. They work with large, complex data sets and use advanced analytical techniques to extract insights and develop predictive models. They may also work with other Data Analysts to develop data-driven solutions for businesses.

Check out: What Does a Data Analyst Do?

Become a Data Scientist With Real-World Experience

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Become a Data Scientist With Real-World Experience

How to Become a Data Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming a data analyst involves a series of steps that encompass education, skill development, and practical experience. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you on your journey to becoming a data analyst:

1. Education and Prerequisites

  • Educational Background: A bachelor's degree in a related field such as statistics, mathematics, computer science, economics, engineering, or information technology is often required. Some positions might even require a master's degree.
  • Mathematics and Statistics: Develop a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics, including concepts like probability, linear algebra, calculus, and inferential statistics. These skills are fundamental to data analysis.
  • Programming Languages: Learn programming languages commonly used in data analysis, such as Python or R. Python is particularly popular due to its adaptablity and extensive libraries for data manipulation and analysis.
  • Database Skills: Gain familiarity with databases and SQL (Structured Query Language), as data analysts often work with large datasets stored in databases.

2. Develop Essential Skills

  • Data Manipulation and Cleaning: Learn how to clean, preprocess, and transform data to ensure it's ready for analysis. This involves dealing with missing values, outliers, and data inconsistencies.
  • Data Visualization: Master data visualization techniques using tools like Matplotlib, Seaborn (Python), or ggplot2 (R) to create meaningful and informative graphs, charts, and visual representations of data.
  • Statistical Analysis: Acquire proficiency in applying statistical techniques like hypothesis testing, regression analysis, and descriptive statistics to draw insights from data.
  • Machine Learning Basics: Familiarize yourself with basic machine learning concepts to understand how to apply predictive and classification models.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Develop strong analytical and critical thinking skills to approach complex problems and derive actionable insights from data.

3. Gain Practical Experience

  • Projects and Portfolio: Work on personal or collaborative data analysis projects to showcase your skills. Create a portfolio that highlights your ability to handle real-world data and provide insights.
  • Internships or Entry-Level Positions: Seek internships or entry-level positions that allow you to apply your skills in a professional setting. These experiences provide valuable exposure and networking opportunities.

4. Master Additional Tools and Techniques

  • Advanced Data Analysis Tools: Explore more advanced data analysis tools and libraries, such as Pandas, NumPy, scikit-learn (Python), or dplyr, tidyr (R), to deepen your analytical capabilities.
  • Big Data Technologies: Familiarize yourself with big data technologies like Hadoop and Spark, as dealing with large datasets is a crucial aspect of data analysis.

5. Continuous Learning and Growth

  • Stay Updated: Data analysis is a rapidly evolving field. Keep pace with cutting-edge methods, tools, and trends through book exploration, conference engagement, and online course participation.
  • Online Courses and Certifications: Enroll in online data analyst courses like Simplilearns Data Analyst Mater's Program or Post Graduate Program in Data Analytics.

6. Networking and Professional Development

  • Network: Attend industry events, workshops, and meetups to connect with other professionals in the field. Networking can open up opportunities for learning, collaboration, and job prospects.
  • LinkedIn and Online Communities: Create a strong LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills and connect with potential employers. Engage in online forums and communities related to data analysis to learn from others and share your insights.

7. Job Search and Career Growth

The world of data analytics offers diverse job opportunities for those with data skills. Some popular roles that require data analysis expertise include Data Analyst, Business Analyst, Data Scientist, Data Engineer, Data Architect, and Marketing Analyst.

However, the field of data analytics is constantly evolving, and new applications for data analysis are being developed all the time. As a result, job titles and responsibilities may also continue to change and expand.

Given the high demand for data professionals, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. predicts that demand may outpace the projected supply of data professionals by 50 or 60 per cent in the coming years. Those with solid data analysis skills will have many opportunities to build a successful career in this field.

To increase your chances of success, staying up-to-date with the latest data analysis tools and technologies and continually developing your skills through practice projects and real-world experience is essential. By doing so, you can build a strong portfolio of work and position yourself as a highly skilled and sought-after data professional.

Data Analyst Salary

How to become a data analyst is the real question, however, there’s one motivation that will surely push you forward to becoming one - and that salaries potential!

According to Glassdoor, a data analyst in the United States can earn a minimum salary of $43K to a maximum of $95K per year.


Fig: Data Analyst Salary in the U.S

In India, a data analyst can earn an average salary of 500K per annum.


Fig: Data Analyst Salary in India

The average salary of a data analyst in Australia is around A$83K per annum.


Fig: Data Analyst Salary in Australia

In the United Kingdom, a data analyst earns an average salary of £30K per annum. 


Fig: Data Analyst Salary in the U.K

Data analysts have a lot of scope in today's times, as companies are on the lookout for professionals who can efficiently and effectively handle their data. 

The companies hiring for the position of data analysts are Amazon, Microsoft, Capital One, Walmart, PayPal, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, and Apple, to name a few. 


Fig: Companies hiring Data Analysts

Are you overwhelmed with all the information and cannot figure where and how to start your learning journey? We have your back. Here’s how Simplilearn can help you learn Data Analytics and make you a seasoned Data Analyst.

Data Analyst Qualifications and Prerequisites

There are a few key qualifications and prerequisites that data analysts should possess in order to be successful in their role. Firstly, data analysts should have strong mathematical skills and be able to effectively analyze data sets. Secondly, they should be well-versed in using statistical software packages such as SAS, R, or SPSS. Finally, data analysts should also have strong communication skills in order to be able to effectively present their findings to clients or other stakeholders.

Possessing these qualifications and prerequisites will put data analysts in a good position to excel in their roles and provide valuable insights that can help organizations make better decisions.

Join The Ranks of Top-Notch Data Analysts!

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Join The Ranks of Top-Notch Data Analysts!

What Is the Workplace/Work Environment of a Data Analyst Like?

A Data Analyst's workplace and work environment can vary depending on their industry and company. Data Analysts may work in a range of settings, including traditional office environments, remote work, or a combination of both.

Data Analysts may work independently or as part of a team, collaborating with other data professionals such as Data Scientists, Business Intelligence Analysts, or Data Engineers. They may also work closely with other departments, such as marketing, finance, or operations, to provide insights and recommendations.

Data Analysts typically spend a lot of their time analyzing and manipulating data using various tools and software. They may also be responsible for data cleaning and preparation, building and testing models, and creating data visualizations or reports to communicate their findings.

In some cases, Data Analysts may be required to work with large datasets that require specialized hardware or cloud-based computing resources. In such cases, they may work closely with IT professionals to set up and manage these resources.

In short, the work environment of a Data Analyst is typically fast-paced, detail-oriented, and focused on problem-solving. Data Analysts are expected to be self-motivated, highly analytical, and able to communicate their findings effectively to stakeholders.

How Can Simplilearn Help You?

If you're looking to become a data analyst, then our Data Analyst master course, is a great choice. The course will cover Introduction to Data Analytics, Business Analytics with Excel, Tableau training, and Power BI. You will also learn Programming Basics and Data Analytics with Python, R programming, and finally, you will get to work on a Capstone project.

This program will help you become a data analyst pro. And now you know the best way to become a data analyst seamlessly. The tools covered in this program are Excel, NumPy, Pandas, SciPy, IBM Watson, Power BI, Tableau, Python, and R. 

Now that you know what data analytics is, who a data analyst is, the responsibilities of a data analyst, and how to become a data analyst, you’re all set to start your learning journey and prepare for a data analyst interview. So what are you waiting for? Your dream job role is a click away. Start learning now!

In case you have any questions on this article ‘How To become a Data Analyst’? mention them in the comment section below Our experts will get back to you as soon!

Data Analyst FAQs

1. What does a data analyst do?

A: Data analysts collect, organize, and analyze data to help businesses make better decisions. They use their skills in math and statistics to find trends and insights in data sets, then communicate their findings to decision-makers.

2. What skills do I need to be a data analyst?

A: To be a successful data analyst, you need strong math and analytical skills. You must be able to think logically and solve problems, and have attention to detail. Additionally, you must be able to effectively communicate your findings to those who will make decisions based on your analysis.

3. What education do I need to be a data analyst?

A: Some data analysts have a bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, economics, computer science, or another quantitative field. However, with the right skills and experience, it is possible to become a data analyst without a college education in this area. More employers are also favoring candidates who have earned certifications with a sole focus in data analysis.

4. What are some common software programs used by data analysts?

A: Data analysts commonly use spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to organize and analyze data. They may also use statistical analysis software, such as SAS or SPSS, to conduct more complex analyses. Additionally, data analysts may use database management software, such as MySQL or Oracle, to work with large data sets.

5. What are some common challenges faced by data analysts?

A: Data analysts may face several challenges in their work. First, they may need to clean or “wrangle” data sets that are messy or incomplete. Second, they may need to find trends or insights in large data sets, which can be difficult and time-consuming. Third, they may need to effectively communicate their findings to those who make decisions based on their analysis. Finally, data analysts may need to stay up-to-date on new analytical methods and software programs.

6. How long does it take to become a data analyst?

The time it takes to become a data analyst can vary depending on your prior experience and education, the amount of time you can commit to learning, and the specific skills and knowledge you need to acquire. A bachelor's degree in a related field like statistics, computer science, or mathematics is required to become a data analyst. Obtaining a bachelor's degree can take around four years of full-time study.

However, learning the necessary skills through self-study or a boot camp-style program is also possible. These programs can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the intensity and duration of the program. Once you have the necessary education or skills, it may take some time to build up experience in the field before securing a full-time data analyst position.

7. What tools do data analysts use?

Data analysts use a wide range of tools to analyze and manipulate data. Here are some of the most common tools used by data analysts:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • SQL
  • Python
  • R
  • Tableau
  • Power BI
  • Hadoop
  • Spark
  • SAS
  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics

8. Is data analysis a good career?

Yes, data analysis is generally considered a promising career with solid job prospects and competitive salaries. The demand for data analysts is growing rapidly as more and more companies realize the importance of data-driven decision-making. With the right skills and experience, data analysts can advance to more senior roles such as data scientist or analytics manager. Additionally, the skills required for a data analyst role are transferable across industries, allowing for a range of career opportunities.

9. Can anyone become a data analyst?

Having a background in computer science, mathematics, statistics, or related fields may make it easier to become a data analyst, but anyone with the right skills and determination can become a data analyst. The key is to gain proficiency in the necessary technical skills like programming languages (such as Python, R, and SQL), data visualization tools (like Tableau and PowerBI), database management tools, and the ability to analyze and draw insights from data.

Soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking are also essential. While formal education in data analysis or a related field can be helpful, many online resources, courses, and boot camps are available for anyone interested in learning data analysis. With dedication and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a data analyst.

10. Is data analyst a coding job?

Yes, data analytics often requires coding skills. While some data analysis tools allow for visual manipulation of data without codings, such as Tableau, Power BI, or Excel, proficiency in programming languages like Python, R, SQL, and Java can be highly beneficial in performing advanced analysis and building custom data models. In addition, knowledge of programming and scripting languages can help automate repetitive tasks and streamline data analysis processes.

11. Is data analyst an IT job?

A Data analyst role is not necessarily an IT (information technology) job but requires working with IT tools and systems. Data analysis involves using statistical and computational techniques to derive insights from data, which can be applied in various industries such as healthcare, finance, marketing, and more. While data analysts need to have a basic understanding of IT tools, such as programming languages and database systems, their primary focus is on analyzing data and interpreting results to drive business decisions.

12. What is the difference between a data analyst and a data scientist?

Data analysts and data scientists are both data professionals, but there are some critical differences in their roles, skills, and responsibilities:

  • Role: Data analysts primarily work with structured data to derive insights and make data-driven decisions. Data scientists use structured and unstructured data to develop and implement predictive models and algorithms.
  • Skills: Data analysts require strong skills in data management, statistical analysis, data visualization, and business domain knowledge. Data scientists need advanced machine learning, programming, and data engineering skills.
  • Responsibilities: Data analysts typically focus on data cleaning, data analysis, and reporting, while data scientists focus on developing and deploying predictive models and algorithms that can drive business outcomes.

13. Can I become a data analyst without a degree?

Yes, it is possible to become a data analyst without a degree. While having a degree in a related field, such as computer science, statistics, or mathematics, may be preferred by some employers, it is only sometimes a requirement.

To become a data analyst without a degree, you can gain the necessary skills through self-learning, online courses, boot camps, or relevant certifications. You can learn programming languages like Python or R, SQL, and data visualization tools like Tableau or PowerBI.

Creating a strong portfolio of personal projects and participating in online communities or hackathons can also help demonstrate your skills to potential employers. Additionally, networking and reaching out to professionals in the field can help you learn more about the industry and increase your chances of finding job opportunities.

14. Can you learn data analytics on your own?

Yes, it is possible to learn data analytics on your own. Many online resources are available for learning data analytics, including tutorials, courses, and online communities. 

In addition to online learning, you can gain practical experience by working on personal projects, participating in data analysis competitions, or contributing to open-source projects. Networking with other data analysts and attending industry events can also help you gain knowledge and insights into the field.

However, it's important to note that while it is possible to learn data analytics on your own, a formal education or relevant work experience can provide valuable credentials and networking opportunities.

15. Is data analytics math-heavy?

Yes, data analytics is a math-heavy field. A solid understanding of mathematics, including statistics, is essential for data analysis. Data analysts need to be able to work with large datasets, use statistical methods to analyze the data and apply mathematical models to interpret the results. They may also need programming languages like Python and R to write and run statistical models and algorithms. While a foundation in math is essential, it's also important to note that data analysts can use various tools and software to help with the heavy lifting, such as Excel, Tableau, and PowerBI.

16. Is data analyst a high salary job? 

Data analyst positions can offer competitive salaries, especially with experience and expertise. However, actual salaries may vary depending on the industry, location, and company size.

17. Can a fresher become a data analyst? 

Yes, fresh graduates with relevant degrees and analytical skills can start their careers as entry-level data analysts. Gaining experience through internships, projects, or certifications can enhance their chances of landing a data analyst position.

About the Author

Avijeet BiswalAvijeet Biswal

Avijeet is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn. Passionate about Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, Avijeet is also interested in politics, cricket, and football.

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