What you need to know before becoming a data analyst

Data analyst jobs involve examining information to learn more about organizations, consumers, and markets. Their insights help organizations make more effective decisions, products and services, and marketing strategies.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of 22% for market research analysts between 2020 and 2030. A significant increase in the use and applications of organizational data is driving these new jobs.

Here, we explore data analyst jobs and what it takes to land them.

What do data analysts do?

Data analysts fill many roles. Their main missions generally consist of:

  • Collect, extract and analyze sales and market information
  • Marketing Effectiveness Assessment
  • Assess consumer buying patterns and habits
  • Design data collection and evaluation tools
  • Create projections and reports based on their findings

These professionals typically need strengths in math, communication, and social sciences. They benefit from understanding business, economics and consumer behaviors.

According to the BLS, the fields of consulting services, finance and insurance, and management typically employ data analysts.

Analysts work with marketing professionals, management and stakeholders in the organization. Related job titles include market research analyst, demographic analyst, or data scientist.

Data analyst vs. data scientist

Data analyst jobs and data scientist jobs can overlap. The field of data science encompasses a large part of data analysis.

While data analysts use insights from limited datasets to solve specific problems for organizations, data scientists leverage large, unstructured datasets to identify risks and provide outcome forecasts .

Work-life balance data analyst

Data analysts typically work during traditional business hours. Tight deadlines add business and stress to their schedules.

As a data analyst, you can benefit from remote work opportunities. You can work from anywhere with access to data and analysis software.

Data professionals may need to take continuing education or self-study to stay competitive and familiar with the latest trends and technologies. Professional certifications, such as Insights Professional Certification, also require ongoing training.

Data analyst salary

According to PayScale, the average base salary for data analyst jobs was $62,789 in April 2022.

Seasoned pros tend to earn more than newbies, with entry-level pros earning $57,000, mid-career pros earning $70,000, and seasoned pros earning $73,000 on average.

The median annual salary for market research analysts was $65,810 in May 2020. The top 10% professionals in this field earned more than $127,410.

Industry, skill level, location, and skills help determine income.

Highest Paying States for Market Research Analysts


Number of analysts employed

Average annual salary (May 2020)




New Jersey






New York

70 770


District of Colombia



Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020)

What does it take to become a data analyst?

Data analyst jobs welcome applicants from a variety of backgrounds. Graduates can enter the field with a computer science degree, business degree, math degree, or even a social science degree.

According to the BLS, these positions generally require at least a bachelor’s degree. A data science bootcamp can also lead to entry-level employment.

Employers may prefer candidates to have relevant experience or advanced training, such as a master’s degree in data analytics.

Industry certification can help professionals advance their careers. He demonstrates a high level of knowledge and at least three years of relevant experience.

What skills do I need as a data analyst?

In addition to the hard technical skills you need to qualify for data analyst jobs, you need to hone people or “soft” skills.

Data analysts must be able to think critically, solve problems, and communicate their findings clearly and concisely.

Technical skills

  • Data visualization
  • Data cleaning and preparation
  • Calculus and Linear Algebra
  • SQL and NoSQL databases
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Programming languages: Python, R, SQL
  • Database creation and navigation

Social abilities

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Critical mind
  • Analytic
  • Observant and meticulous

Unless otherwise noted, wage and employment growth data are from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of April 14, 2022.

Sean N. Ayres