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What Does a Data Analyst Do?

A data analyst is responsible for interpreting data and turning it into information which can offer ways to improve a business, thus affecting business decisions. They gather information from various sources and interpret patterns and trends.

This involves analyzing large data sets to identify patterns and trends, creating visualizations, and presenting findings to stakeholders. Data analysts also work on data cleansing to ensure data accuracy and consistency.

Key responsibilities include for Data Analyst

  • Collecting and interpreting data
  • Analyzing results
  • Reporting the results back to relevant members of the business
  • Identifying patterns and trends in data sets
  • Working alongside teams within the business or management team to establish business needs
  • Defining new data collection and analysis processes
  • Required Skills and Knowledge
  • Technical Skills: Proficiency in programming languages like SQL, R, Python, and tools like Excel, Tableau, Power BI, and other data visualization software.
  • Statistical Analysis: Understanding of statistical methods and their application.
  • Critical Thinking: Ability to look at numbers, trends, and data and come to new conclusions based on the findings.
  • Communication Skills: Strong communication skills to effectively convey findings and recommendations to stakeholders.
  • Problem-Solving: Capability to solve complex problems with data.

Education and Training

To become a data analyst, you typically need a combination of formal education and practical experience. Here are the common steps:

Bachelor’s Degree:

  • Fields: Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Information Management, Economics, or a related field.

Additional Courses and Certifications:

  • Online courses or certifications in data analysis from platforms like Coursera, edX, or Udacity.
  • Specialized certifications like Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate, Certified Analytics Professional (CAP), or Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate.

Master’s Degree (Optional but Beneficial):

  • Advanced degrees in data science, business analytics, or similar fields can provide a competitive edge.

Practical Experience:

  • Internships or entry-level positions to gain hands-on experience.
  • Projects, either through coursework or independently, that demonstrate data analysis skills.
  • Recommended Learning Path

Basic Education:

Earn a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

  • Online Courses and MOOCs:
  • Enroll in online courses that cover the basics of data analysis, programming languages (Python, R), and tools (Excel, Tableau).
  • Platforms: Coursera, edX, DataCamp, Khan Academy.


Obtain industry-recognized certifications to validate your skills.

Practice and Projects:

Work on real-world data projects, either through internships, collaborations, or independent projects.

Networking and Continuous Learning:

Join professional groups and networks such as LinkedIn groups, attend workshops and conferences.

Stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in data analysis.

By following this path and continuously honing your skills, you can build a successful career as a data analyst.

Who Hires Data Analysts?

Data analysts are in demand across a wide range of industries as organizations increasingly rely on data to make informed decisions. Here are some of the main sectors that hire data analysts:

Finance and Banking:

  • Examples: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America
  • Roles: Financial analysts, risk analysts, investment analysts


  • Examples: UnitedHealth Group, Mayo Clinic, Johnson & Johnson
  • Roles: Healthcare data analysts, clinical data managers, biostatisticians


  • Examples: Google, Facebook, Amazon
  • Roles: Data scientists, business intelligence analysts, product analysts

Retail and E-commerce:

  • Examples: Walmart, Target, Amazon
  • Roles: Market analysts, customer data analysts, sales analysts

Consulting Firms:

  • Examples: Deloitte, McKinsey & Company, PwC
  • Roles: Business analysts, strategy analysts, operations analysts

Government and Public Sector:

  • Examples: U.S. Census Bureau, National Institutes of Health (NIH), local government agencies
  • Roles: Policy analysts, public health analysts, economic analysts


  • Examples: Universities, educational technology companies
  • Roles: Institutional research analysts, educational data analysts

Marketing and Advertising:

  • Examples: Nielsen, Ogilvy, HubSpot
  • Roles: Market research analysts, digital analysts, consumer insights analysts


  • Examples: General Electric, Ford, Boeing
  • Roles: Supply chain analysts, production analysts, quality control analysts


  • Examples: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile
  • Roles: Network analysts, customer data analysts, operations analysts

Types of Companies

  • Large Corporations: Multinational companies with vast amounts of data across various departments.
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Smaller businesses looking to leverage data to grow and optimize operations.
  • Startups: New ventures that need data to make strategic decisions and understand their market.
  • Nonprofits: Organizations that utilize data to improve their impact and efficiency.

Job Titles for Data Analysts

  • Data Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Operations Analyst
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Research Analyst
  • Risk Analyst
  • Product Analyst
  • Sales Analyst
  • Essential Skills

Employers look for candidates with the following skills:

  • Technical Skills: Proficiency in SQL, Python, R, Excel, Tableau, Power BI.
  • Analytical Skills: Strong ability to analyze data and identify trends.
  • Communication Skills: Ability to present findings clearly and effectively.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Aptitude for solving complex problems with data.

Where to Find Job Listings

  • Job Boards: LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, SimplyHired
  • Company Websites: Career sections of company websites
  • Professional Networks: Networking events, industry conferences, alumni associations
  • Recruitment Agencies: Specialized recruitment firms focusing on data analytics roles

By targeting these sectors and honing the necessary skills, you can increase your chances of finding a rewarding position as a data analyst.