Data Analyst Training Path: Everything You Need To Know to Become a Data Analyst in 2021

Interested in data analysis and don’t know how to start? In this guide, find out everything you need to know about becoming a data analyst in 2021.

Data Analyst Training Path

At 44 zettabytes in 2020, the number of bytes in the digital universe has exceeded the number of stars by a factor of 40. The implication: the world needs more data analysts. 

‌Without trained professionals to ask the right questions, find the right answers, and articulate those answers in a meaningful way, the data that businesses so highly prize has no story to tell. This is why a 20% increase in job growth was projected for data analysts from 2018 to 2028. 

To meet this demand, data analyst training programs are revolutionizing education—and providing meaningful careers. 

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

A data analyst thoroughly investigates business information using data analysis tools. They extract meaningful results from otherwise unintelligible datasets to counsel their employers or clients, providing them with the insights they need to make informed business decisions. 

Data analysis requires the mastery of these skills: 

  • Mathematics
  • Programming
  • Data visualization
  • Business intelligence 

‌Although programming skills are extremely important, coding expertise in multiple languages is often what separates a data analyst from a data scientist. Data analysts must be proficient with programming, but data scientists must be experts. 

4 Essential Data Analyst Skills for 2021

Data Analyst Skills

Any worthwhile training program can help you gain the required data analytics skills. Here are four skills you can expect to acquire along your path to becoming a data analyst

  • Mathematics. To interpret all that data, you'll need a mastery of high school-level algebra, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, statistical analysis, and probability. You won't necessarily deal with abstract theorems or proofs, but a working knowledge of practical mathematical applications is a must if you’re going to apply statistical analysis to your data. Application examples include finding maxima and minima to determine peak profits (calculus), matrix operations to find data solutions (linear algebra), and linear regression to approximate best fits of otherwise-random data points (statistics). 
  • Programming. As a data analyst, your dataset will consist of gigabytes of data at least, so you'll need software to solve them. There are a number of software tools to learn—the most powerful include Python, R, C/C++, SQL, and SAS—and you'll have to clean your dataset to get any meaningful results. 
  • Data visualization. Not every businessperson is trained in analytics, so if you want your data-driven insights to carry any weight, you'll have to convey their meaning with clarity. Data analysts are storytellers, and to get their message across, they use data visualization tools to bring bytes to life. Microsoft Excel, R, and Tableau will help you create reports and graphics that get the message across. 
  • Business intelligence. How will you solve a business problem if you don't understand what businesses do? Data analysts may not be required to formulate questions from business scenarios—data scientists do that—but you need to have a working knowledge of business concepts to find the answers. Expect your data analyst training program to familiarize you with the world of business.

With these skills in place, you’re now ready to begin your analytics journey.

How To Become a Data Analyst in 2021 

data analyst training path: how to become a data analyst

Now that you know what skills you need to master to become a data analyst, you can follow the below steps to kickstart your data analytics career in 2021.

  1. Learn data analytics fundamentals. By refining your data analytics skills, you’ll have the core competencies needed to become a data analyst. Polish up your math and programming skills to get the best start. 
  2. Get hands-on experience. Theory is fundamental, but in data analytics, experience is essential. Apply for internships and enroll in data bootcamps to give you the hands-on training you need to enter the field. 
  3. Present your data. As a data analyst, you’ll spend a lot of time presenting your findings to business execs—many of whom won't have an analytics background. Become proficient with data visualization tools like Excel and Tableau to make your findings clear.
  4. Build a portfolio. An employer won’t hire you if you don’t demonstrate your skillset clearly. Compile your work into a portfolio that shows off your talent so that managers will see your skills. 

Once you’ve mastered the skills and taken the steps toward becoming a data analyst, you’ll be prepared for your new career.

Do You Need a College Degree To Become a Data Analyst?

While most companies require entry-level data analysts to have at least a bachelor's degree in some field—preferably in mathematics, computer science, information technology, or another STEM field—you don't necessarily need a degree in analytics to get your foot in the door. Many prospective data analysts come from non-technical backgrounds and have their initial degrees in fields like engineering, economics, and even the fine arts. 

Some universities offer a degree or specialization in data analytics, but these pathways often take a long time and cost a lot of money. Thankfully, there are other ways to become a data analyst.

Other options include: 

  • Professional certificates. Offered by programs like Coursera or edX, these certificates enable professionals to advance their careers by honing their skills and helping them acquire entirely new competencies, too. Possibilities include courses in statistics or certifications with certain platforms or databases.
  • Self-study. There's always the option of acquiring data analyst skills by yourself. This avenue is not always accepted by employers, however, as no solid evidence can be given to demonstrate the skills you’ve learned. It also may take a good deal of discipline to gain all the knowledge you need.
  • Data bootcamps. These intensive, short-term training programs deliver exposure to the technical issues faced by data analysts by providing hands-on projects so that you may display your knowledge and apply what you’ve learned to a real-world scenario. Concise, efficient, and thorough, the curricula offered at data bootcamps are designed by data professionals to get graduates a job.‌

Data Analyst Salary and Benefits

The average salary of an entry-level data analyst in the United States ranges from $62,000 to $135,000 per year. After six years of experience, the average salary rises to $100,000.

‌The most common benefits include: 

  • Health insurance
  • 401(k)
  • Paid time off
  • Maternity leave
  • Profit-sharing/stock options

Data Analytics Career Opportunities 

With so many skills involved in the trade, you can see why data analysts are highly prized. You might find someone with a data analysis background in these positions:

  • Data analyst
  • Data intelligence analyst
  • Junior data scientist
  • Biomedical analyst
  • Business product analyst
  • Machine learning analyst

These positions all share the common trait of finding insights into business trends with math and programming skills—the very essence of what data analysts do. 

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.

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