How To Become a Data Analyst: A Complete Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As businesses store and evaluate too much data and information, they require data analysts to convert this information into valuable insights. A data analyst can help businesses and executives make data-driven decisions about their projects. If you have an interest in studying and analysing data and deriving meaningful insights from data, it might be a promising career for you to pursue. In this article, we discuss what a data analyst does and how much they earn, explore the skills required and understand how to become a data analyst.

How to become a data analyst

To understand how to become a data analyst, follow these steps:

1. Complete your 10+2

To become a data analyst, a candidate may study computer science, mathematics, economics and statistics in their 10+2 or higher secondary. Knowledge and proficiency in these subjects can help you interpret data and find suitable job opportunities after graduation. Often, undergraduate colleges prefer giving admission to candidates proficient in at least one of these subjects.

2. Earn your bachelor's degree

You require a bachelor's degree for a fulfilling and rewarding career. A few common degrees to study to qualify for this job role include:

  • Mathematics: A professional mathematics degree equips an analyst with formal logic, problem-solving skills, mathematical modelling and data structures. Discrete mathematics is a field that comes into use during in-depth data analyses.

  • Economics: With an economics degree, analysts can analyse research papers or case studies and derive meaningful information that a business can use.

  • Computer science: A data analyst uses various tools and may work with programming languages and databases. This requires an understanding of computer programming, algorithms, software engineering, computer architecture and operating systems.

  • Statistics: A degree in statistics allows analysts to learn and understand from the data they work with. Studying statistics can give you a strong foundation in data technology, computing, numerical analysis and probability.

3. Pursue a master's and complete certification

For senior-level and management roles, employers prefer hiring candidates with a master's degree. You can even complete a certification to increase your job prospects. Data analysts often require a certification from the vendor that develops the program they use. Certifications help you keep up with the technology and software program changes. You can search job boards to discover the most common certifications employers look for.

4. Learn a programming language

Proficiency in one or more languages allows you to use data analysis systems. You can learn from various programming languages, including C++, Python, PHP, Apache Hadoop, JavaScript and XML. To learn a language fast, take a short course or enrol in an online class. You can improve your existing coding skills by practising on free online websites.

5. Create a CV and apply for jobs

After attaining the essential qualification, create your CV and list all skills relevant to the job description. Pick some keywords from the job description and use them in your CV to make it applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. After preparing your CV, apply to relevant jobs using Indeed's job portal.

Related: 35 Data Analyst Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

What does a data analyst do?

The primary job role of a data analyst is retrieving, organising and analysing information to help a company improve efficiency, production and take key business decisions. These professionals can work in any field, from retail to education. Some analysts may specialise in analysing data related to marketing, finance, operations or other data types. Their day-to-day job responsibilities include:

  • Providing a report to management

  • Completing analysis using statistical methods

  • Converting data into easily understandable information

  • Using data to analyse critical business trends

  • Monitoring data regularly for industry changes

  • Advising management on prioritising business information

  • Preparing graphs and diagrams and presenting them to the business stakeholders

  • Assisting the company's management in understanding the content of analysis locally and internationally

Related: Frequently Asked Questions: What Is a Data Analyst?

Average salary of a data analyst

The average salary of a data analyst is ₹4,41,078 per year. The yearly salary may vary depending upon the industry, focus area, experience level and geographical area. Some Indian cities pay higher than others. For instance, the average salary in Noida is ₹6,37,079 per year, while in Gurgaon, it is ₹3,34,799 per year.

Skills of a data analyst

A data analyst requires both hard and soft skills to complete their job-specific duties. Here are some data analyst skills to master for a successful career:

Soft skills

Some soft skills required for this job role are:

  • Problem-solving: When working as a data analyst, you may encounter many technical issues. To successfully find solutions and troubleshoot problems, you require excellent problem-solving skills.

  • Analytical skills: Data analysts commonly study a large set of data before deriving conclusions that help businesses make key business decisions. So, they require excellent analytical skills to identify patterns and determine findings.

  • Organisational skills: Strong organisational skills help data analysts easily arrange data to retrieve and understand it.

  • Public speaking skills: As data analysts compile information and present their findings to business stakeholders, they require excellent public speaking skills. Having the ability to explain their analysis verbally is essential for a successful career.

Hard skills

Here are some hard skills to master:

  • Mathematics and statistics: Using formulas and combining numbers to get desired results requires strong mathematical and statistical skills. Also, this skill set helps analysts create tables, graphs and charts to represent data that is easily understandable.

  • Computing skills: A data analyst require proficiency in at least one programming or coding language to become an in-demand analyst. Using their computing skills, they can manipulate data and extract relevant information.

  • Data visualisation: Representing analysed data in a visually appealing manner is a desirable skill. Data visualisation involves the ability to use high-quality charts and graphs to present essential findings. It helps make results concise, clear and understandable.

  • Spreadsheets: Proficiency in the spreadsheet is often desirable because it helps you systematically present your data and report. While many organisations may use SQL as a data analytical tool, some organisations may ask you to report data in spreadsheets.

  • Reporting and modelling: Reporting and modelling allow you to convert datasets into actionable information easily digestible by readers. Additionally, modelling helps data analysts predict future events like future sales, process implementation and launches.

Related: 10 Valuable Data Analysis Skills

Work environment of a data analyst

While most data analysts work in office settings, others may work remotely and use the internet to access data on the cloud and use data analysis software to complete their job-specific duties. Also, the typical workday of these professionals may depend on the area of focus and industry. A part of their workday may involve organising and interpreting data, while another part may involve improving current testing procedures.

Often data analysts work in a team environment and offer business improvement recommendations to business stakeholders. Most analysts work during business hours. Though they can work in any industry, some of the common employers are:

  • Banks

  • IT companies

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • Consulting agencies

  • Retailers

  • Manufacturers

  • Financial firms

  • Marketing agencies

  • Healthcare organisations

  • Social media agencies

Data analyst job description example

Here is a sample job description of a data analyst job:

Our firm Pharma Research is looking for a passionate and self-motivated data analyst to join our dynamic team. Our ideal candidate has at least six months of experience assisting a Pharma company in making sales decisions. You would develop reports and troubleshooting data-related issues with the organisation. To excel in this job role, you require keen attention to detail, proficiency in Python and Apache and advanced knowledge of the latest data analysis tools. We are seeking a qualified candidate with a bachelor's and master's degree in computer science, mathematics and related areas for this position.

How many years does it take to become a data analyst?

A minimum qualification criterion for becoming a data analyst is completing a bachelor's degree, which may take three to four years to complete. A master's degree or MBA can take up to two years and you can complete a certification in less than six months. So, depending upon the career path you choose, you can become an analyst in three to six years after your 10+2.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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