The new jobs in the Digital Era consist of careers that weren’t even thought of just a few decades ago. Innovations in technology have created new opportunities for people to step into positions like coders, computer engineers, and, one of the most popular technological roles, that of the data analyst.
Computer jobs don’t always require a college degree. It’s possible to obtain work in this field if you can prove you know the skills and have what it takes to get the job done. Because of the massive impact of Big Data on industries all over the world, data analysts are in demand today, with high-paying salaries and an abundance of potential openings awaiting those with the right skillset. If this sounds like it may be up your alley, you should cultivate a few specific skills on your path to the future career of a data analyst.
What is a Data Analyst?
With so many computer and technology careers, it can be hard to keep up with what role is responsible for which jobs. In the case of a data analyst, these professionals use their technical skills and know-how to analyze big and small data and report their conclusions from the information they’ve observed.
Data analysts pull specific data from the voluminous amount of information obtained through data mining software and put their programming skills to use to sort through the massive pile and narrow it down to only that which is relevant to their needs. From there, they analyze what was culminated and then communicate the findings to their audience.
Because of the research and analysis involved, data analysts often find their work becomes an entry-level stepping stone to further careers like data scientists. The more skills you know, the more likely you are to get hired for coveted positions.
Hard Skills for Data Analytic Jobs
Of course, it’s important to know how to use tools like Python and other programs your employer may utilize. But those are different from having the skills to manipulate whatever is put in front of you.
Certain hard skills are essential if you want to become a data analyst, such as:
● Data preparation knowledge - The majority of work done by a data professional involves cleaning data and preparing it for use. It’s one of the most important skills you can have. Data preparation involves retrieving your data from at least one source and then combining it all so that it can be read and stored numerically and categorically. If there is any missing or inconsistent data, it’s your job to find it and extrapolate it before it affects your analysis.
● Explorative data - Once you know what your employer is looking for, it’s your job to turn that into a question that can be answered through data exploration. Knowing the question, you will then track down the data and transform it into answers to the question, finding trends or relationships in the analyzed data, and turning that information into something that could potentially be valuable to the business.
● Statistics - Because you’re looking for patterns and trends, you need to have a strong understanding of statistics and probability. This will help you to look at your analysis and gauge quickly whether it’s a reasonable conclusion or not, and to look for common fallacies or errors in logic.
In addition to these key hard skills, you’ll also need some soft skills in your daily job.
Soft Skills for Data Analytic Jobs
While most data analysts work independently for the majority of their part, a lot of their job is teamwork related, too. At some point, you’ll need to communicate with your stakeholder or another audience, so some soft skills will be helpful, such as:
● Problem-solving skills - You can’t “teach” problem-solving and creativity, but as a data analyst, you’ll need to have this ability under your belt. Logical thinking through each step is crucial. When things don’t go as you predicted, you will have to troubleshoot and solve for potential problems, being flexible and in the moment.
● Communication skills - Your findings will need to be communicated with your colleagues, data suppliers, stakeholders, and other audiences both visually and in written reports. This will require you to have excellent interpersonal communication skills, as well as the ability to put your thoughts into words that can be understood by the average reader.
Data analysts are integral to many industries, but it’s not an easy job. Although it’s fulfilling and beneficial, you need to make sure you have the skills it takes to be successful.