What does a data analyst do?

In today’s technology-driven world, data is collected, analyzed and interpreted to solve a wide range of business problems. With a career as a data analyst, you could play an important role in the growth and success of an organization.

Susan mckenzieA data analyst is more than a number cruncher. Analysts examine the data and determine how it can be used to solve problems, gain key insights about a company’s customers, and increase profits. Analysts also strive to communicate this information to key stakeholders, including company executives.

“Ultimately, the work of a data analyst provides information to the organization that can transform the way the business moves forward and grows successfully,” said Susan mckenzie, Associate Dean of STEM Programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

If you want to become a data analyst, it’s important to understand the day-to-day work of an analytics professional and prepare for a successful career in this growing field.

What is a data analyst?

Data analysts play an important role in a modern business, helping to think about a company’s work and customers, determining how these factors have affected profits, and advising executives on how to move forward. ‘before to develop the business.

According to McKenzie, successful data analysts have strong math and statistical skills, as well as:

  • Analytical skills collect, visualize and analyze information
  • Digital skills measure and statistically analyze data
  • Technical skills including software and scripting languages ​​to organize and present data

Data analysts also need a solid foundation of business knowledge and professional skills, McKenzie said, from decision making and problem solving to communication and time management. Attention to detail is one of the data analyst’s most important skills, ensuring that data is analyzed effectively and efficiently while minimizing errors.

As a data analyst, you can work to collect data using software, surveys and other data collection tools, perform statistical analysis on the data, and interpret the information gathered to inform decisions. important business decisions, McKenzie said. For example, a data analyst might examine the demographics of visitors to a company’s website who clicked on a specific ad campaign. This data could then be used to check whether the campaign is reaching its target audience, how well the campaign is working, and whether money needs to be spent again on this type of advertising.

Where can a data analyst work? Large amounts of data are increasingly accessible, even to small businesses, making analysts in demand in a wide variety of industries. Data and analytics jobs expected to increase by 364,000 openings – to 2.72 million – by 2020, with highest demand for data analysts, according to a 2017 IBM report in the fields of finance, insurance, professional services and information technology.

Many organizations have even created teams of information analysts, with data-driven roles, including database administrators, data scientists, data architects, database managers, engineers. data and, of course, data analysts, McKenzie said.

How to become a data analyst

Whatever your specific interests in the world of data analytics, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to get started in the field. While many people start a career in data analysis with a degree in math, statistics, or economics, data analysis degrees are becoming more common and can help you stand out in this growing field, according to McKenzie. .

“With the increase in the amount of data available and advanced technical skills, earning a university degree specifically in data analysis provides the skills needed for today’s marketplace,” McKenzie said.

In an undergraduate data analyst program, you will explore business, information technology, and mathematics, with an emphasis on data mining, simulation, and optimization. You will learn to identify and define data challenges across industries, practice collecting and organizing information from many sources, and explore how to examine data to identify relevant information. You’ll also be ready to use statistical analysis, simulation, and optimization to analyze and apply data to real-world situations, and use the data to inform decision-makers in an organization.

A master’s degree in data analysis can take your career even further, exploring how to use data to make predictions and how data relates to risk management. You will dive deeper into data-driven decision making, explore project management, and develop your communication and leadership skills.

Finding an internship during your studies can give you important practical experience that stands out when you apply for data analyst positions, McKenzie said, while joining industry associations for data analysis, statistics and research. operational can offer key networking opportunities to develop your career.

Data Analyst vs Data Scientist

Data analysts play a unique role among the many data-driven jobs often found in businesses today. The terms data analyst and data scientist are often used interchangeably, the roles differ considerably.

But while a data analyst gathers and analyzes data, a data scientist develops statistical models and uses a scientific method to explain the data and make predictions, according to Susan mckenzie, Senior Associate Dean of STEM Programs at Southern New Hampshire University. She used an example of meteorological indicators. While a data analyst can collect temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity, a data scientist could use that data to predict whether a hurricane could form.

“They look at the data to identify patterns and scientifically decide the outcome,” she said. “The data analyst works on a subset of what the data scientist does.”

Data scientists typically need a master’s degree, McKenzie said, while data analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree for this role.

Data Analyst Career Path

With a degree in data analysis, you’ll be ready to step into a growing field and embark on an exciting career as a data analyst.

As technology advances and we spend more of our lives online, better data becomes easier to collect, encouraging more organizations to engage in data analytics. In fact, a Glassdoor survey named the Data Scientist the Best Career for 2018. The Data Analyst was also listed, at number 18, thanks to his pay and job satisfaction ratings. students.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for mathematicians and statisticians is expected to increase by 33% through 2026. Jobs for operations research analysts are expected to increase by 27% and jobs for administrators databases are expected to increase by 11%. by 2026.

Data analyst careers also have strong salary potential. Data analysts earned an average base salary of $ 83,878 in 2018, according to Glassdoor, and data analysts earned an average base salary of over $ 135,000.

With career opportunities in almost any industry, you can take your data analysis degree wherever your interests lie.

“Data analysts are in high demand in many industries and fields because data has become a very important component of every business,” McKenzie said. “The undergraduate degree in data analysis provides a gateway to many of these careers based on the skills of the individual. “

Sean N. Ayres