Carefully honed problem-solving skills and an analytical approach to your work can make you an excellent candidate for a position as a data analyst. These professionals offer valuable insights for companies in industries ranging from finance to entertainment. If you’re the type of person who enjoys dissecting data to pull out the most pertinent information to guide decision-making, you’d likely thrive in this position. 

‌Whether you’re a professional who wants to shift your career path into this area or an experienced data analyst interested in using your skills in a new role, here are some key analytical skills to help you stand out.

What Are Analytical Skills? 

‌Analytical skills refer to how you collect and process information. If you’re adept at deconstructing large chunks of information into smaller, more digestible tidbits for decision-making, you have analytical skills. 

People with this expertise are good at gathering and assembling information, seeing patterns, and using the specifics to draw conclusions and make logical recommendations. They can break down complicated data and make it easier for people to understand. 

‌As a data analyst, you need to know how to read and interpret various types of information, making it relevant for others who work in your organization. You may also need to know technical skills such as programming languages for databases and other analytical software. Common languages include SQL, Oracle, and Python

Why Are Analytical Skills Important in a Data Analytics Career? 

An employer interested in hiring a professional to conduct data analysis wants someone with the ability to analyze complex topics from multiple angles. Professionals in these positions are required to assess large volumes of data and use the information to provide potential solutions and recommendations. 

Data analysts work in a variety of fields, but in every company, your role is to extract details and help your employer or client to make informed decisions. For example, if you work as a data analyst for a pharmaceutical company, you may be responsible for compiling the results of multiple drug trials into a clean report that summarizes the outcomes experienced by patients. Your report would include valuable information that helps the company’s executives decide whether to put the product on the market. 

Having strong analytical tools and appropriate soft skills like attention to detail will help you sift through hundreds of trials and decide the most important information to include in the final report. 

Top 5 Analytical Skills to Set You Apart in Your Data Analytics Job

A combination of mathematical and illustrative skills will help you in a role where you’re needed to analyze data and present it in a digestible way. Here are five key skills that you should master before entering the applicant pool. 

1. Critical thinking

In a data analytics role, critical thinking helps you determine the question or problem that you need to solve. It lets you analyze data from multiple angles and find creative solutions. 

Without this skill, you’d be looking at a stack of data with no direction on how to analyze it. If you work for an entertainment company and you’re required to analyze recent box office numbers, critical thinking helps you determine why the numbers are important.s

2. Statistics

Knowing how to read and interpret statistical data is crucial to your role in data analysis. Most of the data mining techniques you’ll use in your job involve statistics. Familiarity with methods like nonlinear regression analysis, predictive analysis, and standard deviation helps you analyze and interpret information. It’s also necessary to know how to articulate these ideas.  

3. Mathematics

‌Those with the job title of data analyst in every field use math every day. Not only do you need a comprehensive understanding of statistics, but you should also be familiar with the principles of linear algebra and calculus, depending on your field. 

Linear algebra is most commonly used to create algorithms. When you understand linear algebra and the formulas used to create an algorithm, you’ll have a better understanding of the results. Knowing why the algorithm was generated to collect data helps you better explain it to decision-makers. 

4. Data visualization

‌To make your data easier to understand, it’s helpful to use a combination of text and images. The fundamentals of data visualization include graphs and charts, but now, data can be presented with infographics and other visual tools. Use these alongside text to distill information that’s easy to understand. 

FEMA produced this infographic to explain the job application process. It offers a step-by-step guide illustrated in a way that’s easy to grasp. Using a mix of text and graphics laid out in an interesting manner makes your reports more engaging. 

‌5. Computer science

‌Data analysts work closely with computers every day. Your job might involve inputting data into a statistical analysis program or writing programs that let you run statistical reports. Many companies also work with artificial intelligence, and you may be responsible for programming the machines so they know what data to capture. 

Familiarity with programming languages like SQL, databases like Domo or Microsoft Access, and analytical software will allow you to quickly learn your new data analyst job regardless of which software systems the company uses. SQL and similar programming languages serve as the basis for most analytical software programs.

Taking computer science courses and learning the fundamentals will help you learn to program algorithms, work with AI, program databases, and more. Computer science is ever-changing, so tutorials and other deep learning resources can help keep your skills sharp.

Is data analytics the right career for you?

Springboard offers a comprehensive data analytics bootcamp. Our data analytics curriculum goes beyond just technical skills to focus on areas where employers find the biggest gaps: strategic thinking, problem-solving, and communication. Watch videos from Microsoft. Learn insights from McKinsey experts. Tackle case studies from Harvard Business School. No other data analytics bootcamp does this. You’ll graduate with an analytical mindset. That’s an edge not just for your job search, but throughout your career.

Check out Springboard’s Data Analytics Career Track to see if you qualify.