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If you enjoy collecting data, analyzing documents, working with databases and gathering sources of information, a career as a data analyst may be the right fit for you. Note that while most data analyst jobs allow for some creativity in terms of how data is used and interpreted, these in-demand professionals are also held to strict guidelines in many industries.
The most skilled data analysts bring to the table a comprehensive understanding of their field, as well as the unique requirements and protocols of their industry. Having this expertise enables you to quickly, accurately and efficiently analyze information and find new areas of opportunity for your employer.
Data analyst jobs require focus and discipline. As a data analyst, you’ll spend a lot of time looking at databases, charts and other data sources, using this information to generate reports, system updates and more. While a lot depends on the industry you work in and size of your employer, you’ll probably report to someone in the IT department of your organization.
Currently, data analyst salaries range from $62,000, for those who are just starting out in their careers, to more than $97,000, for those with nine-plus years of professional experience.
Because data analysts are highly in demand at companies across the U.S. in a wide range of industries and fields, their salaries have steadily increased in recent years. As with many tech jobs, the locations with the highest level of demand for data analysts at the moment are major metropolitan hubs in California, Texas and New York.
As a data analyst, your company will count on you to accurately assess relevant data and report on your findings. For example, you may be asked to analyze data related to your company's products, services or clients. As a data analyst, you’ll turn numbers and other information into actionable charts, graphs and reports that can be shared with management, stakeholders and clients.
Despite the fact that data analysts spend the majority of their time assessing quantitative information, interpersonal and communication skills remain key. On a given project, for example, you might be required to collaborate with cross-functional team members or serve in the capacity of a project manager. Finally, some data analyst jobs will also require you to present and explain your findings to various stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
Data analyst jobs are found in many different fields, from information technology to banking and finance, manufacturing, government, healthcare and more.
The reality is that businesses of all sizes, in all industries, are collecting increasingly massive amounts of data. As a result, they need skilled data analysts on hand to help make sense of it — and use it to their advantage.
Your employer will rely on your expertise to find new opportunities for the business, create reports and enable decision-makers to learn from successes as well as failures. In other words, your expertise will be an essential resource for management and executives as they make business-critical decisions.
To succeed in the field of data analysis, you’ll need to be able to process large amounts of information and condense it into key takeaways that can be easily communicated. Skills that will serve you well include:
Data analysts sometimes have access to secure, protected or encrypted information, so many companies will require a criminal background check before offering you a job. You may also be asked to take a drug test before being hired in order to ensure you bring a clear mind to work every day.
Data analyst jobs typically require a bachelor's degree, at minimum — degrees in information technology, statistics or computer science are all common in the field. Many data analysts also pursue post-secondary education such as master's degrees or doctorates in related fields. A strong grasp of Microsoft Excel, along with programming languages likeSQL, is often preferred.
Additionally, there are numerous data analysis certifications from providers such as Cloudera, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft that can help qualify you for data analyst roles and set you apart from other candidates.
Data analyst jobs can lead to more senior roles in the IT department and related supervisory positions.
In order to progress from an entry-level position into a more senior role, however, you’ll have to demonstrate both technical aptitude and the ability to work well with teams. Showing off leadership skills when appropriate, and developing your knowledge of the business, will also help you move up the ranks quickly.
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