How to get started as a data analyst: a beginner’s guide

Data analytics is a growing field that involves collecting, cleaning, and studying data to provide business insights, steer market trends, and guide business decisions. Professionals in this field are known as data analysts, who extract valuable insights from raw data by analyzing it.

Today, the demand for data analysts is higher than ever, and there are many opportunities for skilled analysts to help businesses and organizations meet their data needs. Here are the steps to start a fulfilling career in data analysis.

1. Learn the basics

To get started as a data analyst, you need to understand the field and how it works.

You need to know the skills, tools, and other requirements needed for a career in data analytics. A broad overview of what you need will allow you to decide early on whether this is an area that really interests you and how to make it work.

Additionally, a basic knowledge of computer programming, statistics, or mathematics is an advantage for most data analysis roles. You don’t need a degree in these areas, although earning a degree can enhance your resume and deepen your knowledge.

Alternatively, you can enroll in self-study data analysis courses, coding bootcamps, and certification programs to improve your knowledge and gain experience.

2. Learn technical skills

To be successful in a data analyst role, you need to have a wide range of technical skills. These include knowledge of hypothesis testing, probability distribution and regression analysis.

Data analysts work with programming languages ​​like JavaScript, R, Python, and data query languages ​​like SQL, so you need to be familiar with them. For example, you can gain real-world SQL experience by taking courses and working with raw datasets.

It would be helpful if you also learned how to use Microsoft Excel, Matlab and IBM SPSS with different datasets and familiarized yourself with data preparation and cleaning techniques.

Finally, learning to use data visualization tools like Tableau and Power BI is essential, so you know how to visually present the results of your analysis.

3. Train with real datasets and create models

Practicing with real datasets is the most crucial step at the start of a data analyst’s career. You can only improve your skills if you consistently apply them to real-life scenarios.

As such, you can enroll in degree programs or online courses that include hands-on projects and datasets you can work on and create models.

Alternatively, you can design personal projects using free datasets from government agencies or public companies to run your analyses. There’s tons of data out there, and you decide which ones you find most interesting.

Here are examples of public datasets to get you started:

4. Build a solid portfolio of personal projects

The next step in building a solid career in data analytics includes compiling a solid portfolio of projects to demonstrate your expertise in the field.

Although you may have worked with a few clients soon after learning the basics, a collection of your best personal projects will often be more important in your job search.

Potential employers want to see that you have the skills required to function within their organizations and bring value to them.

Therefore, you should spend time maintaining a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to:

  • Collect raw data
  • Clean and prepare raw data
  • Present data using maps, charts and graphs
  • Get actionable insights from processed data

You should also consider adding group projects to your portfolio, demonstrating your ability to work in a team. However, you should avoid making mistakes when building your online portfolio.

5. Develop strong communication and presentation skills

In today’s working world, it’s not enough to be good at your job, which is to analyze data. Your ability to interpret, present and communicate what you have been working on to your colleagues, superiors and clients is equally invaluable.

Work on speaking clearly and improving your ability to tell stories. To get started, consider the purpose of your presentation and the points you want to highlight. Next, consider the best visuals to convey your message and remember to make them as clear and informative as possible.

Finally, consider your audience. Speak calmly, confidently and make eye contact with people you want to persuade or inform. These pointers will help you stay on track and effectively present your findings.

6. Look for junior data analysis positions to gain work experience

After developing your skills, the next step in your career is to apply for data analyst positions. The demand for data analysts is very high in many industries, so you have an advantage.

However, you must first spruce up your CV. Then apply for data analyst jobs that match your preferences and goals.

You should be aware that even though companies post jobs with long lists of requirements, they are often willing to hire data analysts who may not fit all the boxes if the analyst has other skills. precious.

Your portfolio, your skills and your interest in a position may be more important to the employer than your academic or professional qualifications.

Also, you can apply for data analyst internships if you are a student with data analysis skills. These will provide real-world experience for your CV and allow you to use your skills in practical applications and settings.

7. Pursue your studies / Obtain professional certifications

Finally, whether you are new to the industry or have a few years of work experience, earning a graduate degree like a master’s or doctoral degree in data analytics or data science is a must. excellent way to consolidate your expertise.

The degree equips you with in-depth knowledge of specific data fields, which can help take your career to the next level.

Conversely, you can opt for an advanced certification program from an accredited training provider or professional body. These certifications prove your expertise and your desire to grow and adapt to changes in the field.

You might want to check out some of these certification programs:

Data analytics is the future: embrace it

Data analytics will play an important role in technology, healthcare, education and other sectors in the years to come. Therefore, entering the industry now is a wise move.

Following the advice in this article will help kick-start your journey to becoming a world-class data analyst, and you can rest assured that it will be the start of a great career.

Sean N. Ayres