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How Do I Become a Data Analyst?

A data analyst uses computer software to analyze large amounts of data.
Data analysts often choose to present data in chart or graph format in order to make it easier to understand.
Data analysts need a post-secondary education, computer skills and related work experience.
Working as a business analyst can give one the experience necessary to be a data analyst.
People who do not require a lot of social interaction and who enjoy working with numbers would likely be a good fit for a data analyst position.
Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2014
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There are three steps required to become a data analyst: post-secondary education, related work experience, and computer skills. A data analyst is responsible for using sophisticated software tools to review, massage, and analyze large amounts of data. The information can be anything from financial to medical. It is very common to combine expertise or training in a specific field with computer skills in this role.

People who report the greatest satisfaction from this job are detail-oriented, enjoy working with numbers, and do not require a lot of social interaction in their daily work. An affinity for computer systems, understanding of database structures, and other data management concepts are all very useful in this role. This type of job is forecast for above average growth in the next five to ten years, as companies look to utilize the data they have to maximum advantage.

The first requirement to become a data analyst is to obtain a college diploma or university degree. There is no specific educational program for a data analyst, but training in accounting, business, math, and statistics are all very helpful in this career. While a college diploma may be all that you need, career advancement opportunities usually require advanced training. This training can be in a specific software product, or in data management, statistics, or computer science. Many universities now offer bridging programs that grant credits for college diplomas, reducing the number of courses required to obtain a degree.

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Jobs that can provide related work experience include business analyst, computer programmer, or developer. These types of roles are available in a wide range of industries, and they are most commonly organized as part of the accounting or financial services department. It is common practice for large companies to have a department of systems analysis staff that includes data analysts. In order to get a job as a data analyst, it is important to have a naturally analytical mind and enjoy problem solving.

Computer skills are very important in this role. The software used in this type of work is quite specialized and requires training and dedication to use properly. Take the time to learn how to use some of the most well know business intelligence or data analysis software. The most popular software programs are Cognos®, MicroStrategy® and SAS®. Many large enterprise resources planning systems, such as SAP® or Oracle®, have their own business intelligence systems that can be used to review data in those systems.

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Discuss this Article

hnalawade
Post 13

I have my BE (Bachelors of engineering) in computer and MBA in marketing. I want to become a data/business analyst. Should I go for SAS certification? If yes, which institutes provide this certification? Please help me out.

anon925126
Post 12

You should know SQL and Excel backwards and forwards. You should be proficient in perl and linux as well. Then it's pretty much a cakewalk of a job. No lie.

anon357349
Post 11

I am currently a data services coordinator. My BA is in Business Management, however, I would like to be an analyst. I've been reading that I will need at least a diploma to be considered for a position such as data management. What will I need to do?

jagsl123
Post 10

I would really appreciate some feedback. I want to become a data/ business analyst. I have a bachelors degree in information management and information systems. I also a have masters in social work and want to use my credentials if at all possible. The problem is I have no practical experience in this role. I’m stuck and looking for suggestions. I was thinking of studying SQL to help. Any ideas?

anon309965
Post 9

Learn SQL, SQL, SQL. I can't stress this enough. Also have a background on statistics and be proficient in a field of math called "optimization" or linear/integer programming. Basically, industrial engineers have this background already.

So if I were a hiring manager, I'd be looking for industrial engineers with programming background. A programming background is very helpful since just analyzing data is just part of the job role. A significant amount of time is spent acquiring data which often time is in an initial format that is not usable, then the data needs to be stored or inputted by various means. That's where programming is invaluable.

Tofayel
Post 8

In this IT age, IT knowledge is most essential for to be a successful business leader or manager. So getting a business analyst certification really helps a lot. A business analyst certification would also help us to get a job faster.

anon175255
Post 7

I have completed MBA in marketing and recently finished a course on SAS. I want to become a market researcher. i have a year of experience in Data analysis? Please suggest to me what should be my next step?

anon156995
Post 6

What is the sequences of training needed to become a data analyst after a university certificate.

anon132780
Post 5

I completed my graduation in BBA (Bachelors in Business Administration) this year. I want to become a business analyst. So, can you suggest to me whether i should get started with a internship or i should join ORACLE or SAP? I'm really confused. Any suggestions you have regarding my problem, please let me know.

anon119182
Post 4

I am also interested to know some good places to get data analyst (finance) training in bay area, ca. At present, I am taking some accounting courses for my diploma.

Charlie89
Post 3

Many businesses offer data analyst internships for those interested in becoming data analysts.

This can be a good source of that essential work experience that everybody needs before they can get the "real" job, but can be so hard to find.

Remember to be persistent when looking for those internships though -- the data analyst job market is no less competitive than anything else, and requires diligence.

StreamFinder
Post 2

@yournamehere -- You could try searching for data analyst internships, or looking into one of those "data analyst boot camps" that are offered online.

I haven't tried any of them personally, so I can't vouch for it, but a lot of them promise to teach you the computer skills you would need as a data analyst, like working with SQL, database software, etc.

Although it probably wouldn't give you the "everyday" experience of a data analyst, that would at least be a good place to start to get some idea of whether you like doing it or not.

yournamehere
Post 1

So aside from the school training, what are some good places to get data analyst training?

I'm thinking that I may want to become a data analyst (probably business, but maybe something else) and wanted to know if there was some way I could get a taste of the job before committing.

Any ideas?

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