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What Do Data Analysts Actually Do?

When you read about the field of data analysis, it can seem confusing or overwhelming. It sounds like important and exciting work, but what does it look like on the ground? This guide will hopefully help you understand the basics a bit more.

Here, we’ll discuss some of the important skills needed to become a data analyst as well as some of their daily responsibilities. Finally, we’ll touch on what the future looks like for data analysts. Let’s jump in!

Skills Needed for Data Analysis

While data analysts can come from a variety of backgrounds, there are a few crucial skills that they all have in common. These skills include both soft and hard skills, which are equally important for a fulfilling and lucrative career. 

Hard Skills

  • Data storage tools: Working with incredibly large amounts of data often requires the use of computer programming and data storage to make the work more manageable. Programs like Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS) and Apache Hadoop allow data analysts to break down their data into individual nodes for quicker processing while performing analyses and finding patterns that may have otherwise been missed. Data analysts often utilize Python to help with their work as well. This programming language contains several libraries to automate and simplify common tasks while ensuring accurate work is being completed. 
  • Data visualization tools: Once data has been cleaned and analyzed, it has to be prepared for presentation. Data visualization tools help create appealing illustrations of your findings in the form of charts and graphs. Some of the most popular tools for this purpose include Tableau and Microsoft Power BI. These tools are commonly praised for their ease of use and their attractive templates that transform your raw data into infographics that anyone on your team can make sense of. 

Soft Skills

  • Communication: Whether you work in an office or remotely, communication is a vital tool that all data analysts need to hone. One of your major responsibilities is to explain your analyses to people who often have limited knowledge of statistical models. Translating your findings into information that is understandable for an entire team is an important step toward getting everyone on the same page and working together to achieve a common goal. 
  • Problem Solving: Enjoying solving complex problems is vital to being a successful data analyst. This skill contains several components, including the ability to recognize the root cause of a problem and also identify the most efficient way to approach the problem. Good problem solving will also involve using the resources and people around you to adapt your methods as you learn more about your responsibilities. 
  • Teamwork: You may have envisioned a data analyst to be a solitary career, but they typically work in large teams of different professionals. The data you collect and process will need to be presented and recommendations have to be broken down into actionable steps. These actions will impact the jobs of others that you work with, so you must be able to give direction and feedback respectfully. 

Daily Life of a Data Analyst

The tasks and responsibilities of data analysts can vary widely (though most of them prefer to begin with a strong cup of coffee), but here’s an example of what a typical day might include:

  • Meetings with team members to discuss current action items, brainstorm for solutions, and assign different responsibilities. These meetings help identify what questions you’re trying to answer with the data you have available.
  • Gathering and cleaning data. This step should be done after you’ve been given a specific assignment so you know what you’re looking for; data can tell you many things depending on how you organize it. Cleaning data often involves making small corrections and removing outliers that would skew the results. This step often takes a long time, but it is critical for obtaining accurate results once the data is processed.
  • Processing the data is done using several tools like R and Python. These tools are crucial for understanding complex or large amounts of data. They can identify patterns that a human might not see, and in a shorter amount of time.

The Future of Data Analyst Careers

A career in data analysis can lead you to some truly exciting places. Many of them can be remote positions, allowing you the opportunity to travel or live in a place you normally couldn’t imagine. Because data analysis can be applied to most industries, you can work with data and accomplish life-saving work. Literally. Data analysis is at the forefront of medical discoveries. For example, some data analysts work to analyze genes to identify and treat diseases in their early stages. 

Careers in data analysis aren’t going away anytime soon. They are projected to increase by 25% in the next decade, which is well above the national average of growth rates for other careers. Data is collected in every place you can imagine—every button we press, every time we click our mouse, we’re sending information somewhere. This information is collected and analyzed by businesses to learn more about our preferences and make their business decisions. 

Learn Data Analysis Skills with Career Centers

If you’re intrigued by the idea of having a career in data analytics, you may want to check out the data analytics classes offered by Career Centers. They can be taken remotely or in-person at its Manhattan campus. Students are also allowed one free retake of their class to make sure the information truly sticks. Career Centers has a Microsoft Excel Bootcamp, a Power BI Bootcamp, and a Tableau Bootcamp available. These software programs are important tools for any data analyst to know. If you’d like to learn more about all of these programs, the Data Analytics Technologies Bootcamp may be of interest. This class combines the curriculums of the Power BI, Tableau, and Excel bootcamps but at a reduced cost. 

Noble Desktop, a partner program of Career Centers, also has a handful of data analytics courses you might enjoy. Its Python for Data Science Bootcamp is geared toward beginners who want to learn more about how the programming language of Python works to manipulate and visualize sets of data. If you’re looking for a more intensive program, the Data Analytics Certificate is a perfect option. Here, you’ll learn some of the most in-demand skills for today’s data analysts. The program ends with the creation of a portfolio of your completed work to show off to hiring managers as you start your job search.

Learn more in these courses

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