How To Become a Data Analyst

What Skills Are Needed To Become a Data Analyst : A Comprehensive Guide

Data analysts are in demand today, so if you want to become one, there are many avenues for you to achieve your goal. To become a data analyst, you must have certain skills and knowledge to be able to do the job.

In this guide, we will show you the different pathways you can take to become a data analyst.

What Do Data Analysts Do?

A data analyst is a professional who collects, processes, and performs an analysis of statistical data. He or she takes that data and figures out how it can be used to solve problems and answer questions. They also handle data handling, data modeling, and reporting.

Today, many businesses generate and collect data, and with the development of computers and the use of advanced IT systems, data analysis has evolved to a large extent. As a result, both big and small businesses now employ data analysts.

Data collected can be used to check customer feedback, marketing services, account, logistics, and many other departments in the workplace.

With the information gathered, it’s possible to use the data to improve systems, and customer experience, check costs and determine which changes to make, among many other solutions.

With the development of the relational database, data analysts can now use SQL to retrieve and interpret data from databases. First, however, you need to learn the skills and how to interpret information in real-life situations to become a professional data analyst.

What Skills Are Needed?

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To become a data analyst, you need the relevant skills to be able to perform the tasks. Therefore, you need vast and rich skillsets, from understanding programming languages and domain expertise to knowing how to use various tools.

Skills Needed Include:

– Degree Knowledge

In the past, most data analyst jobs required candidates to have a degree. That has been changing in recent years, though. Any degree in computer science, math, or other relevant fields can help as you also continue to build your foundation knowledge and skills through other programs and courses.

– Creative Thinking

One of the key attributes to becoming a good data analyst is creativity coupled with great analytical thinking skills. In addition to being good at statistical analysis, you should be able to think through problems, analyze them and find solutions. This allows you to research problems, understand them and figure out how to solve them.

– Knowledge of Programming Languages (R/SAS)

You need to have knowledge of programming languages like Python, R, and JavaScript for data collection, data visualization, and statistical analysis to enable you to solve complex data problems. Therefore, it is important to be proficient in at least one language.

– Great Communication Skills

To be able to expound on reports and explain figures, you must be able to display and interpret the data. In addition, the information needs to be straightforward to allow your audience to understand, enabling them to make major decisions.

– Proficient In Using Data Analysis Tools

As a professional data analyst, you will be working with databases and data analysis tools. You should be proficient in Microsoft Excel, writing SQL queries and procedures, Matlab, and IBM SPSS.

Familiarize yourself with excel and practice advanced modeling and analytics techniques. These tools will help you to analyze trends and share accurate insights.

– Knowledge of Data Visualization Tools

A data analyst presents their data in the form of reports, tables, graphs, etc. Therefore, you must be able to create different reports using several data visualization tools. This includes familiarizing yourself and knowing how to use tools like QlikView, Tableau, and Power BI.

Combined with good communication and presentation skills, you should be able to convey your ideas to team members, stakeholders, and clients.

The use of data visualization is based on trial and error as you analyze which tool works best. But, in general, a successful data analyst should know and understand what types of graphs and charts to use and how to scale visualization depending on their audience.

– Knowledge of Data Warehousing

In some cases, data analysts might be expected to work on the back end. For example, they have to connect databases from multiple sources to form a data warehouse and use programming querying languages to find and manage data.

– Knowledge of SQL Databases

SQL databases have structured data. Data is stored in tables and graphs, and a data analyst gets information from different tables to perform analysis.

– Data Mining, Cleaning, And Wrangling

Sometimes data isn’t neatly stored in a database, and this prompts data analysts to use other tools to gather unstructured data. Data wrangling involves transforming and wrapping raw data into a different format. Then, data gathered is cleaned and processed through programming.

– Machine Learning Skills

Acquiring machine learning skills will help you in your work as a data analyst, as it is one of the top skills needed for data analysis. An analyst has to have an understanding of statistics and machine learning algorithms.

You also need to broaden your knowledge about concepts like hypothesis testing, regression analysis, probability distributions, and various classification and clustering techniques.

How to Become a Data Analyst

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Degree Requirements

You don’t need to have a degree in maths or statistics to become a data analyst. A background in these subjects should be enough to steer you in the right direction.

Data analysts can come from non-technical backgrounds, and as long as they have a strong interest in working with data and can solve problems, that should be good enough. A degree in maths or statistics can, however, give you a significant advantage by enabling you to understand complex data sets.

Courses You Can Do

There are some undergraduate courses you can do to become a data analyst, which includes:

  • Data Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems
  • Statistics

Getting a Degree in a Field of Statistical and Analytical Skills

Enroll in a credible college or university and earn a bachelor’s degree with statistics and analytical skills as your majors, such as computer science. The general experience will give you some foundational knowledge and an overview of data analytics to help you determine whether a career as a data analyst is a good fit.

You can also learn more about statistics through alternative programs, such as professional certificate programs or self-study courses.

Working On Your Data Analytics Skills

You need to have a set of specific technical skills to work as a data analyst. Get essential skills like statistics, R or Python programming, SQL, data visualization, and data cleaning and preparation that will increase your chances of getting hired.

Working On Projects in Real-Life Settings

To know whether you have grasped the right concepts, it is important to apply the skills learned in the real world. Find hands-on projects where you can use real data sets and come up with solutions or design your own projects.

Creating a Work Portfolio

Save your best work and create a customized portfolio showcasing what you can deliver. In addition, the portfolio should be able to demonstrate your skills in data analysis to potential managers and recruiters.

Getting an Entry-Level Job

A job will give you hands-on experience in working with data and how to present it. Work on your resume and apply for entry-level jobs. If you are still in school, ask your professors to connect you with opportunities to help you gain experience.


Ultimately, you do not need a degree to become a data analyst. Given that data analysts are much needed in various industries today, the main thing that employers want is someone who has the suitable skills to get the job done.

Even if you do not have a degree, it is still possible to get hired as a data analyst if you are able to show through your resume and portfolio that you do have the skills required.