Data Analyst as a Career

I had someone ask me the other day what a career in data analytics was like. Hmmm. Where to begin. Data analytics as a career is something that can be a bit confusing if you are not familiar with it. We all see the results of data analytics every day, but may not realize it. Let’s take a look and see a bit of what a career for a data analyst looks like.

What a data analyst does

The obvious answer to the question “what does a data analyst do?” is they analyze data.

But lets take a deeper look and try to understand what that means.

Data analysis is taking data in one state that may not be as useful to other people the way it is and making it useful.

For example, your boss wants to know if a new advertising campaign is worth the money they are spending on it.

He sees a bunch of leads coming in, but is unsure if that means more sales due to the campaign or not.

A data analyst could take the sales data and organize it into groups – before and after the campaign, zip codes hit with the ads and those not targeted, and sales from new customers during the campaign dates and sales from existing customers during the same period.

Then they sort it by similar categories. This can be done by each category to give one view and by combinations of categories to show an even more detailed story.

Once they have a good set of data that has been organized and sorted and they can get an idea of what the data means, the data analyst can present it. The presentation of the data can take the form of a written report or more commonly some kind of visual graph or an interactive dashboard that allow the end user the ability to change the parameters testing different variables in combinations that help them start to see what the data can mean.

Data analytics dashboard

The tools we use

There are many different tools used along the way by people in the data analytics world. This is not going to be a comprehensive list of all the tools, just some of the tools that I have seen in my experience in the industry.

To begin with there’s SQL. SQL is for database management.

SQL is a database query language that allows you to extract, combine, and manipulate sets of data.

In SQL you can take mass amounts of data and lump it together or split it apart. You can combine two or more different database and see how they relate to each other or you can split off a chunk of data from a larger set to get just the relevant parts that will help you in your analysis.

Data analytics SQL example

There are many forms of SQL in use.

There are also databases that don’t use the same type of structure as SQL, but that will be a different discussion since I use SQL in my job, so I’ll leave it at SQL for now.

Python.

Python is a data analytics language that is terrific at statistical analysis. This is where the data gets analyzed after it’s collected and organized by SQL.

In business or academia, Python is used for linear and non-linear modelling, predictive analysis, and data validation.

This is where most of the analysis in data analytics happens.

Tableau.

Once you have gathered the data and analyzed it, a program like Tableau helps you present it. You can create graphs and charts, dashboards and interactive presentations that allow a dynamic picture of what the data means and what it could mean with a few small (or large) changes.

Data analytics dashboard

What we get paid

Hmmm. The uncomfortable matter of the money…

Well, as you would expect, data analysts get paid fairly well.

On average the salaries for data analysts comes in between $54K and $87K.

 

The types of jobs you can get

Right now, this is a pretty exciting field. Lots of jobs are opening up every day for data analysts.

There are companies that hire data analysts to come in and analyze their customer and sales data so they can be more efficient with their sales and marketing dollars. Big companies like Walmart, Amazon, Target, etc. pay tons of money so that they can see the past and predict the future.

There are some jobs where you go work for a company where the analytics is what the company does for other companies. Companies like Domo and Alteryx provide the dashboards and presentations that allow companies to see and the data in a useful way without having their own team on staff.

You could also freelance if that’s your thing.

Whatever you do, just know that there is a huge and growing demand for people who can analyze data.

Conclusion

There are many jobs in the big data world. Data analysis is a fun one. When you can take raw data, clean it, organize it, and sort into sets that make sense, then analyze it into ideas that are clear and understandable, and then present it in a way that tells a story of what has happened, what is currently going on, and what has a statistical probability of becoming the next reality, you can be a highly sought after individual.

So that’s it in a nutshell. I don’t know if this is something that you’d like to do or not, but I love it.

Every day when I go home, and my wife and kids ask how my day was, I say the same thing.

Amazing! Again.

8 thoughts on “Data Analyst as a Career”

  1. Hello!

    I can imagine that the demand for data analysts is increasing. I must admit that, at first, I was not sure what the exact job description of a data analyst was, but now that I have read your article, it is much clearer to me, and I can see why big companies like Walmart and Target would want to hire a data analyst. The information that a data analyst provides is excellent knowledge to run and improve running a business. The salary – as I expected – is also pretty good.

    How can you become a data analyst? I never thought of what type of studies one had to take for that. Is it best to find job opportunities online like on Upwork, for example?

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Christine.

      Yes, a career in data analytics is rewarding.

      As far as how to get in the field, the awesome thing about most jobs in technology, there are so many paths to the career.

      I have mostly had on the job training. There are so many ways to learn (as pointed out here), the opportunities are all over.

      Thanks.

      Reply
  2. It is great when you love your job. Data Analytics for sure is one interesting job since it isn’t monotonous. Your website is great for anyone that would like to start a career as a data analyst. And just as you said, data analytics is used to predict the future trends and that is why it is one of the most important aspects of the business. 

    Reply
  3. What’s fun about a position as a data analyst is that there’s always something new each day rather than just going to work the same old job. Data changes, trends change, and even targeted audience plus advertising campaigns change. This always allows the data analyst to have different types of work ready and willing depending on what a company wishes for them to analyze that day or even that week.

    For those of us who dislike redundant work, working as a data analyst definitely gets rid of the ‘same old’ mindset and offers something fresh. It will make you look forward to going to work each day since something different will be in store for you. 

    Reply
  4. like they say sharing is caring,Whilst reading i understood that Data analysis creates the ability to make faster and more informed business decisions backed up by facts,creates deeper understanding of customer requirements which in turn builds better business relationships,increases awareness of risk thereby enabling the implementation of preventative measures.thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
    • Right you are, Wilson. We can definitely make better business decisions if we’re well informed.

      Thanks for the insight.

      Reply

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