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Top Data Analytics Skills Required to Become a Data Analyst

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What is Data Analysis?

Data-Analysis

Data Analysis skills

The world has evolved so much that people have moved from being superstitious to being logical. Unlike before, people now correlate events and occurrences rationally to ascertain the cause of problems and proffer possible solutions. Therefore, data analysis refers to a method in which data is collected and organized in such a manner that meaningful and helpful information can be derived from it. In other words, the main reason behind data analysis is to examine the information embedded in any data. This requires to have strong data analytics skills. 

Looking at it from another perspective, data analysis refers to the process of cross-checking, cleaning, reorganizing and modeling data for decision making in business. Data gotten from different sources is put together, examined and then analyzed to arrive at a conclusion.  

Therefore, a data analyst gathers, arranges, processes and model data. He is capable of analyzing large volume of data, be it structured or unstructured. At the end of the day, the main goal of data analysis is to prepare and present data in the right form (graphs, charts or tables) for decision-making and problem-solving process.

To analyze means to break down a whole into its components in order to examine each of them individually and generate explanation for why it is the way it is. 

Over the years, people who are vast in mathematical and programming abilities have been getting handsomely rewarded. This is because these two abilities form the basis on which data analysis operate. As more and more companies generate huge data, new industries have joined in craving for these skills, especially in the technology sector.

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Skills Gap in Companies today

In recent times, employees seem to have little understanding of their companies’ data. Aside having enough data analysts, most companies have surprisingly few people who can analyze their data in the most basic manners.

This trend may be blamed partly on the system companies have in place. Many businesses, especially those that grew through acquisition and inherited several IT departments, save their data in systems that are difficult for non-technical employees to access or use. That discourages majority of people from going anywhere near their company’s raw data. What is even the bigger obstacle is that, as much as decent tools may be available, it takes technical know-how and patience, which most people do not have, to use them.

Data analysts are in high demand in virtually all sectors including consulting, government, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, finance and education. If you are curious, mathematically skilled, and analytical, then you should consider a career in data analytics.

Types of Data Analysts 

types of data analysts

data analyst skills required

Some of the areas where you can work as a data analyst include:

  1. Data Assurance
  2. Finance
  • Higher Education
  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Business Intelligence
  • Data Quality

Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

data analyst skills required

Some major responsibilities you would be carrying out when employed as a data analyst are:

  1. You would identify areas where your company needs to improve in efficiency and process automation
  2. You would come up with records of the management policies and processes
  3. You would initiate and maintain processes of automated data
  4. You would develop and support various reporting processes.
  5. You would monitor and audit the quality of data
  6. You would identify, evaluate and implement services and tools from external sources to support validation of data and cleansing.
  7. You would work with both internal and external clients to adequately understand data content.
  8. You would Create dashboards, graphs and visualizations on data.
  9. From time to time, you would prepare reports for both internal and external audiences using various business analytics reporting tools.
  10. Design, conduct and analyze survey data.

Skills Required by a Data Analyst

Skills Required by a Data Analyst

data analyst skills required

If you intend to become a successful data analyst, you must start by ensuring you get a good background in mathematics, technology, business intelligence, data mining and statistics. You also need to possess a couple of analytics skills which include:

1.) Analytical Skills

As the name implies, it is clear that analytical skills are of huge importance in data analysis. These skills refer to the ability to gather, view and analyze all forms of information in details. They also mean the ability to view a challenge or situation from different perspectives.

Analytical skills are major data analyst skills that make it possible for you to address problems by making decisions in the most appropriate way. Hence, if you wish to become a successful data analyst, you need to acquire and improve your analytical skills and thinking.

2.) Numeracy Skills

These refer to mathematical skills which include a wide range of abilities including:

  1. Have good knowledge of figures and numbers
  2. Understand the relationships existing between numbers
  • Interpret any mathematical information
  1. Have the ability to organize information
  2. Be able to schedule or budget
  3. Be conversant with trends
  4. Know how to measure and analyze data
  5. Be able to work with graphical information
  6. Possess calculation skills

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3.) Technical and Computer Skills

Good computer and technical skills are among the important data analytics skills. You should possess a basic knowledge of statistics. Also, you need to be familiar with some computer software and tools including; scripting language (Matlab, Python), Querying Language (SQL, Hive, Pig), Spreadsheet (Excel) and Statistical Language (SAS, R, SPSS). Other computer skills include; programming (Javascript, XML), big data tools (Spark, Hive HQL) and so on.

4.) Attention to Details

These are also important data analytics tools that any intending data analyst must develop. Ability to pay attention to details allows a data analyst find and see initially unseen details and links. This ability is especially important at the point of solving problems and making decisions. One who pays attention to details to work better and stands lower risk of making errors.

Employers do not joke with this strength, this explains why many people include attention to details ability in their résumés and job applications.

5.) Business Skills

You also need to possess certain business skills to function well as a data analyst. The major business skills you need include:

  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills: These two work together. This is the main crux of data analysis as the job of a data analyst is to give the right information for decision-making and problem-solving process.
  • The ability to acquire knowledge on new things, especially with regards to technological developments.
  • Communication skills: As a data analyst, it is expected of you to work with different people in your team. You should be able to communicate effectively with directors and co-workers to prepare, present and explain data.
  • Time management and organization skills: Your ability to manage time effectively will enable you handle your responsibilities and meet deadlines.

6.) Communication Skills

Data Analytics job require you to be an excellent communicator. In other words, you must be able to facilitate meetings, make the right requests and be an active listener in order to assimilate new information. Your communication proficiency should also cut across different digital platforms such as internet, conference calls, SMS among others. The nature of this job require you to spend a significant amount of time relating with management, users, developers and clients. You really do not want to disappoint any of these categories of people.

Aside all of the above, some experts have argued that the essentially required skills for data analyst are 7. They include:

  1. Campaign Management (Adobe Campaign): To become a successful data analyst, you need to get a good grasp of this software. It allows you manage your data and makes it possible for you to monitor your cross-channel campaigns from a particular place. Don’t just get familiar with this important tool, get confident with it.
  2. Analytical and Creative Mind: You need to show that you are passionate about the industry and that you possess a creative and analytical mind for anyone to take you serious. Go ahead and create campaigns and projects of your own to showcase your creativity.
  3. Advanced Microsoft Excel: You cannot separate Excel form data analysis as it plays a very important role in the process. Make sure you know your way around the numerous functions available on Excel to be successful in data analysis profession.
  4. Teamwork: The Data and analytics industry is not different from other industries when it comes to preferring with relevant experience of working with people in a team over those who don’t. In as much as the majority of data analytic work may be done independently, you still need a team to execute certain projects. Of course, you need to clearly spell this out in your curriculum vitae.
  5. Scripting and Statistical Language: You need to know such scripting and analytical languages as Python, Matlab, R and SAS as a data analyst. The more of these languages you know, the more you can include in your CV, hereby increasing your chances of landing your dream job.
  6. Adobe and Google Analytics: Though Google Analytics is the most popular analytical tool, Adobe Analytics is also very useful in powerful analytics. Acquiring an advanced understanding of these tools will definitely boost your chances of beating competitions in the market.
  7. Structured Query Language (SQL) Programming: SQL is a very important language when it comes to data analysis. Most employers consider it to be among the most valuable skills within the analytics world. However, only very few data analysts possess this skill. Try and become skilled in this area and watch you beat your competitors to secure jobs. Though it may not be needed for some analysis, it is always important to possess this skill. 

How to use Data Analytics Skills

use Data Analytics Skills

data analyst skills required

After acquiring the above-highlighted skills, you can use them to attract attention to yourself throughout your job search. To start with, state the names of the skills as keywords when putting your resume together. Do not assume or conclude that the Human Resource Personnel would figure out that you possess the skills they want.

When you see a job you want to apply for, carefully go through the job description and conduct a couple of research on the company. This way, you would be able to tell what skills the company prioritizes; then you can go ahead and highlight them in your cover letter (provided you possess the skills). In a situation whereby you don’t possess all the skills the company need, feel free to mention as many as you possess, including the ones not mentioned but relevant to the job.

You may be asked to give instances of situations where your skills turned out very useful, so be prepared to describe at least describe at least a scenario in which your skills saved the day. 

Academic Qualification

A first degree is often required, not all the time though. To work as a data analyst, a degree in any of these relevant disciplines may go a long way:

  • Computer Science
  • Information management
  • Business information systems
  • Mathematics
  • Economics
  • Statistics

As much as the above degrees are important to your success as a data analyst, what matters most is the skills you possess.

These days, a postgraduate degree in data science is becoming more widespread among data analysts (or intending data analysts). You may find this academic qualification (postgraduate degree) helpful if you are changing career or you want to learn analysis skills. Some of the subjects in which postgraduate qualifications are offered include MSc Business Analytics, MSc Big Data, MSc Data Science, MSc Data Science and Analytics.

There are also a couple of data analysis skills you can learn through short courses which are available at universities and specialist data schools including:

  • The Information Lab Data School
  • General Assembly
  • The Open Data Institute

Career Prospects

Data analysis is a rapidly growing field and highly skilled analysts in increased demand across all sectors. This is evident from the average salary of a data analyst in IndiaThis implies that you would find many opportunities but you will still have to be outstanding and exhibit excellent data analytics skills to be successful as a data analyst.

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