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A data analyst collects, processes and conducts statistical analyses of data within a company. His main objective is to determine how to use data to offer solutions to various statistical problems and find answers to contentious questions. His work varies with the type of data he is dealing with as well as specific client projects. He analyzes data from sources such as social media, sales, inventories, competitors and local populations.

Data analysts work in almost all industries, including healthcare, finance, marketing, retail and government. The insights they bring on-board are invaluable to companies who want to know more about the needs of their customers and what their competitors are doing. They are also invaluable to companies that want to enter into new markets.

Data Analyst Salary

Data analysts make an average income of $57,991.

Beginning Salary

Individuals who have just graduated earn about $30,000. They form 10 percent of data analysts in the US.

Key Responsibilities

Data analysts will be required to do the following;

• Establish and implement document management policies and procedures.

• Identify specific data management systems that require improvement or automation.

• Develop and track the company’s key performance indicators.

• Identify, implement and monitor external data management tools to support data security, validation and cleansing.

• Audit and monitor data quality.

• Collaborate with external and internal clients and experts to fully understand data content and needs.

• Extract, analyze and interpret complex data sets relating to the market trends and the company’s objectives.

Necessary Skills

Data analysts need to have both technical and business skills to work effectively as a data analyst. On the technical side, they must be able to work with various computer applications to mine, cleanse, interpret and visualize data. They must have sound knowledge of statistical methods and packages, SAS or R language, ETL frameworks, Python and Java. They must also be able to understand machine learning techniques and work well with Hadoop and MapReduce.

On the business skills, they must be able to solve problems analytically, use reports and presentations to explain complex ideas, question the existing business processes and brainstorm new techniques for data analysis. They must also have a deeper understanding of the industry, such as what drives the industry and how data can lead to efficiency and success within a company.

Data Analyst Educational Requirements

Employers seek applicants who have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field when hiring. Aspiring data analysts can a pursue a degree in information technology or statistics. Classes may feature topics such as data mining, database management, emerging technologies, business practices and trends, and systems design and analysis. A four-year statistics degree, on the other hand, will focus on data analysis and interpretation. It may features topics such as regression analysis, discrete data analysis, linear algebra, programming and probability.

Students can choose to supplement their bachelor’s degree with a master’s or doctorate degree. A master’s degree increases one’s chances for qualifying for a management position. Majors such as information analysis, information system management, statistics or any other related field train students on software architecture and testing, data warehousing, HTML coding and e-commerce.

Pros and Cons of Working as a Data Analyst

Working as a data analyst comes with a lot of benefits. This role offers a competitive salary and fantastic employee bonuses. It also offers a chance to develop and further one’s career within an engaging and supportive work environment. However, working as a data analyst can be very challenging if someone cannot handle a lot of pressure. Sometimes data analysts might have to spend sleepless nights researching and analyzing data from various sources. This can be tiresome and overwhelming. Lack of enough resources to mine and analyze data may make it difficult for analysts to complete projects on time, causing a lot of friction between the analyst and management. The data may also be compromised, leading to low-quality outcomes.

Getting Started as a Data Analyst

Future data analysts need some experience before getting a competitive job as a data analyst. They can apply for an entry-level job as a statistical assistant or actuarial technician. Most entry-level jobs include formal and informal on-the-job training by more experienced data analysts. Such jobs provide experience in analytical software like SAS and Sigma Stat and basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel. Jobs that provide some experience on data query languages and computer programming are also beneficial.

In addition to experience, data analysts need to obtain some certifications to build their resumes. Common certifications include Revolution R Enterprise Certified Specialist, Certified Data Management Professional, Certified Analytics Professional and Data Science Associate. These certifications confirm the analyst’s knowledge of big data statistics, predictive modeling and machine learning techniques. They also test on ability to export and import raw data files, analyze existing data, manipulate it and transform it into a useful piece of information.

Job Outlook

Data analysis has gained popularity in the past few years, thanks to the emergence of big data. The hiring market has been good so far, with each year recording unprecedented levels of job increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for data analysts and data science experts is expected to increase by 30 percent in the next 10 years, 2 percent more than what they recorded last year. This increasing demand is due to the fact companies are beginning to see the importance of data-driven decisions on their success. They are trying to get more talent to help them catch up with the rest of the market. Data analysts will get employment across all industries. Top employers will include retail companies, marketing firms, insurance companies, higher education institutions, telecommunication companies, pharmaceutical companies and government.

Data analysis is a potentially lucrative field that provides the chance to use data to provide business insights and improve processes. This post sheds more light on the key responsibilities of a data scientist, necessary skills set, educational requirements and career prospects.


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