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One of the most in-demand positions around the world is that of data analyst. We’ll reveal data analyst roles and responsibilities, along with what it takes to become one and how much salary they earn.

Data Analyst Definition

While a data analyst’s roles and responsibilities best describe what the job entails, here’s the basic definition: A person who helps businesses make decisions by transforming raw data into insight and information.

Data Analyst

What Do Data Analysts Do?

The roles and responsibilities of data analysts vary according to the field they are in and the business they work for. Generally, however, here is what a data analyst is tasked with:

  • Maintaining and developing data systems and databases.
  • Transforming data into a more readable format.
  • Extracting data from primary and secondary sources with the help of automated tools.
  • Assessing the meaning and quality of data through analysis.
  • Analyzing trends on a global, national, and local scale that could affect both the industry and the business.
  • Pinpointing and correcting code issues by analyzing performance indicators and reports.
  • Eliminating corrupted data and any issues tied to it.
  • Helping organizations assess and compare performance by assigning numerical values to crucial business functions.
  • Finding ways to improve processes, modify systems, and better govern data by working with engineers, programmers, and managers.
  • Making sense of complex sets of data by identifying, analyzing, and interpreting trends and patterns.
  • Creating reports that management can use to view patterns and trends, plus make predictions.
  • Creating reports for stakeholders to help them view trends and facts derived from complex data so they can then make important business decisions.

Data Analyst Skills

To execute all of the roles and responsibilities listed above, a data analyst must possess several skills, such as:

  • The ability to solve problems and work in a team.
  • Critical thinking ability.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Creativity.
  • A mathematical ability that translates into collecting, measuring, organizing, and analyzing data.
  • Finding solutions within datasets by creating and applying algorithms.
  • Programming knowledge of languages such as Python, SQL, MATLAB, R, and Oracle.
  • Competency with Excel, SAS, SPSS, and other statistical packages that are used to analyze data.
  • Experience with Qlik, Tableau, and other data visualization programs.
  • Experience with databases, Business Objects, XML, JavaScript, or ETL.
  • Proficiency in the areas of data mining techniques, database design development, segmentation, and data models.
  • Knowledge of Apache Spark, Hadoop, and other data processing platforms.
  • Accomplished with queries, reports, and presentations, which requires solid written and verbal communication skills.

As you can see, the ideal data analyst possesses tons of technical skills. Leadership is essential as well, though, and experience in data analysis may be necessary to secure the level of employment you desire. How can you gain such experience? That usually begins with education, and the following fields of study are often those chosen by aspiring data analysts:

  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Information management
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics

Getting a bachelor’s degree in one of the fields above can help you get in the door as a data analyst, but they’re not the only path to such a position. You can become industry-ready by taking a data analytics boot camp as well.

Who Hires Data Analysts?

That path to becoming a data analyst may require plenty of studying and work to build your resume. So before taking that path, let’s discuss where you can get such a position.

If you look online, you won’t find a shortage of data analyst jobs. In fact, you can find tens of thousands of open positions, depending on when you look. Data analysts are needed worldwide across all industries, making the open job numbers a lot less surprising.

As for where the greatest demand for data analysts exists, the United States and Europe are the most prominent hotspots. These are the industries with the most need:

  • Finance
  • Sharing economy
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment

E-commerce is another up-and-coming hotspot for data analysts, as is marketing.

As for who is hiring for these roles, the list includes such global giants as:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Barclays
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Netflix
  • PayPal

And if you can’t find a position with one of those big names, don’t fret, as small companies across the globe will likely need your services as well.

Data Analyst Salary

While the compensation numbers will vary according to several factors such as your education, experience, skills, location, etc., you can expect to make anywhere from $60,000 to $140,000 as a data analyst. Over time, you can move up the ladder to hold the title of a senior data analyst, data scientist, business analyst, etc., which can bring higher pay.

Speaking of pay, your best bet to get the most money is to apply for a data analyst position with a tech or financial firm.


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