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How to Become a Data Analyst [4 Steps to Take]

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Choosing the right career path is rarely a paved road. From the moment you decide to pursue a career, your mind starts whirring and thinking of possibilities and what-ifs. 

Now, you’re thinking of becoming a data analyst. Tomorrow, you may swerve across the road and decide to become a chef.

The deviation is entirely normal, and decisiveness is a part of the process. If the idea of becoming a data analyst is still playing at the back of your mind, we’ll help you with all we’ve got!

Here’s how to become a data analyst, even if you have no prior work experience.

An Overview of Data Analysts: A Primer

The term ‘data analyst’ perfectly describes the job and its role. 

All businesses across all fields need data science in some way or another. A data analyst role is to collect, process, and analyze this data to come up with a solution for a certain problem or relay the information to the decision-makers. The job may also include figuring out some measures, like predictive analytics or valuable insights.

The data dealt with can be anything from customer accounts to marketing research and financial data, and the analyst often analyzes it using statistical techniques and provides actionable insights based on the output.

That’s why the job needs considerable mathematical and computer science skills, as well as big data.

From this, we conclude that a data analyst resume must reflect high vigilance to details, understanding of data analysis, and knowledge of all statistical tools needed for the job.

How Much Do Data Analysts Make?

Data analysis is a full-time job, and its pay is more than enough without the need for side hustles to support your finances. Because the demand for data professionals outweighs the available supply, the salaries are high.

According to the latest updates by Indeed, the average annual salary of a junior data analyst in the US is $72,676, which is more than the national average. Meanwhile, a senior data analyst can earn $95,207 or more per year, with high salaries exceeding $120,000.

From these numbers, you can conclude that mid-level data analysts can make roughly $80,000 per year, depending on their experience and the company they’re working for.

What You’ll Need to Become a Data Analyst [& Associated Costs]

Three Digital marketing analysts working on a project

Though you can become a successful data analyst without prior experience, you’ll have to brush up on your skillset to be viable for the job. Here’s a list of skills required for the job:

  • Analytical Thinking: Analytical thinking is the bare minimum for the data analyst job. It’s the key attribute of the job because, from an abstract perspective, all a data analyst does is solve problems and present solutions through an analytical lens.
  • Data Visualization: Data analysts need to learn how to visualize their data in an understandable way, such as graphs, bar charts, etc. It’s one of the most essential skills for the job.
  • SQL: SQL is a programming language that’s used to process and store data in a relational database. Data analysts use SQL databases to pull data and create reports, so it’s necessary to be knowledgeable about it.
  • Microsoft Excel: Microsoft Excel is an invaluable tool for a data analyst or financial analyst. You need to be aware of its advanced tools and analytics techniques because it’s a common requirement in analysis jobs.
  • Data Mining: Data analysts won’t always be dealing with neat databases, and the job is entirely about sorting through data. So, to work as a data analyst, you need to be skillful in data mining and the tools required for it. 
  • Programming Languages: You’ll hear a lot of people saying that data analysis doesn’t need profound knowledge in programming; don’t listen to them. On the job, you’ll use programming for data gathering, data visualization, and statistical analysis. Even if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t require it, it’s a skill that’ll get you higher pay and help you move through the ranks faster. Start with basic languages like R or SAS.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Data Analyst?

Training to be a data analyst involves learning programming languages, data modeling, and data visualization. There’s no saying how many courses you’ll need for these; it depends on your available resources.

To make it easier on yourself, you can explore certified study programs. Enrolling in one of these programs may cost from $5000 to $30,000, depending on how deep you want to go into learning. 

The cost may seem high at first, but if you’re taking the job seriously, you need to learn everything about it. On top of that, some jobs demand certifications, so you’ll need it either way.

Is It Hard to Become a Data Analyst?

The question of whether it’s hard to become a data analyst depends on you. Data analysis is all about technical skills, so it’s challenging for more people than others.

It’s relatively hard, but it’s not impossible. For example, it’s easier than becoming a data scientist.

The journey needs discipline, plenty of learning, and patience. It’s important to remember that it’s a career field that includes ongoing education because of the neck-breaking pace the industry is advancing at.

If you’re a quick learner, not a lazy person, and don’t mind walking the road step by step, you won’t find it that hard.

Top-view of a data analyst's office and his paperwork

How Long Does It Take to Become a Data Analyst?

There’s no definite answer to that question. It may take you only a few months to become a data analyst, and it may take another person years to do it.

It depends on how much you know about the role, your current skillset, and whether you have a relevant degree.

A bachelor’s degree in statistics or computer science will get you there faster, but it’ll need 3–4 years to earn.

Without a degree, you can make it in two years, give or take, if you stay focused on the end goal and go through your learning material at a decent pace.

How to Become a Data Analyst in 4 Simple Steps

Becoming a data analyst isn’t hard per se, but it’s not a smooth road easier. Here’s how to do it:

1. Get a Certification

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree related to data analysis, like computer science, you’ll need to get certified for the job. Not all companies demand it, but it increases your chances of landing the job.

Additionally, it helps you get all the knowledge you need for the role.
A certified study program can take around a year to complete, depending on where you’ll take it.

2. Learn Relevant Programming Languages

Data analysts need to do some programming for their day-to-day tasks, so it’s essential to learn all relevant languages if you want to get more job opportunities.

Some essential languages are SQL and R, but you can replace R with Python, depending on the job you want to pursue.
Of course, learning the two gives you an edge over other applicants.

3. Learn Visualization Tools

The main tools you’ll be using for data analysis are visualization programs, like Tableau, Plotly, PowerBI, and Infogram. So, you need to learn them profoundly, as well as more advanced tools like Github, Google Analytics, and AWS S3.

You also have to master Microsoft Excel and its analytical tools.
By the end of your learning process, you need to be able to visualize all kinds of data using these tools, as well as present them clearly to your colleagues.

4. Work on Practice Projects

Learning alone isn’t enough. To work as a data analyst, you need to be able to implement what you learned. That’s why it’s essential to work on practice projects to brush up on your technical skills.

Try to experience with all the tools you’ve learned and know your skill level in each of them. Practice several different tools, even if they do a similar job, like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics.

On top of that, make sure to go through all stages of data analysis, including market research, data mining, data visualization, and presenting the output.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Data Analyst

Close-up of a Data Analyst working during a meeting

The number one reason to consider becoming a data analyst is the high demand for the job. 

In 2022, the data analytics industry was valued at $41 billion, with expectations for it to grow by 30% each year. By 2030, the market is expected to reach a whopping value of $346 billion, which means the growth rate of data analysis jobs is only going in one direction: up!

On the other end of the spectrum, a global shortage of tech specialists is waiting to happen, with an expected peak of 85 million lost workers by 2030! 

The demand for tech workers is going up, while the available supply is going down. And with technology threading through every possible aspect of business, it seems wise to pursue a tech-oriented career like a data engineer or market research analyst.

It’s also one of the jobs you can work overnight, which is a bonus!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Data Analyst a Stressful Job?

The job mainly revolves around solving problems through data analysis and managing sensitive data, so it’s stressful indeed.

It also includes dealing with the decision-makers in your company, which can add to your stress. However, freelance data analysts may have it a bit easier because they often have a better work-life balance. 

Does Data Analyst Require Coding?

Yes, data analysts need some basic coding skills for their day-to-day tasks, but they don’t need to have advanced coding skills.

In fact, some companies don’t even list it among the job requirements, but it’s necessary if you want to make it big.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If you think data analysis jobs are too stressful for you, you can always consider other gigs that offer good pay.

Here’s a roundup of some careers you can pursue:

  • How to Become a Software Engineer: Software engineers are highly in demand. You’ll need to go through a lot of learning to become one, but it’s a high-paying job. Some people can earn six figures if they make it far enough.
  • How to Become a Medical Coder: A medical coder’s job is to translate data from patients’ documents to universal medical codes. That way, the medical records are all accurate. Its pay may not be as high as a software engineer, but the job is easier to learn and highly in demand.
  • How to Become a Transcriptionist: If you don’t mind listening to audio recordings for a living, you should consider becoming a transcriptionist. It’s the easiest out of these three jobs, and it has decent pay.

Wrapping Up

Becoming a data analyst may not be easy, but it’s doable if you have enough discipline and readiness to learn. The steps listed above will help put you on the right road, and you may find new things to learn along the way.

If the article helped you, share it with your friends pursuing tech-oriented careers, and tell us what you think in the comments!

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