Data Science

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How to Become a Data Analyst: The Definitive Guide

Posted in Data Science

Who is a Data Analyst?

Nowadays, companies receive a tremendous amount of information every day that can be used to optimize their strategies. To get insights from the massive data collected, they need a highly qualified professional: the Data Analyst.

The task of a Data Analyst is to process the varied data concerning the customers, the products, or the performances of the company, to release indicators useful for the decision-makers. Thus, the information provided by the data analyst enables companies to define the products to be offered to customers according to their needs, the marketing strategy to adopt, or the improvements to be made to the production process.

Data Analyst Qualifications

How to becoming a data analyst requires both academic qualifications and skills. Let us see these categories in detail below.

Academic Qualifications

It is recommended that graduate from a data analysis program and have a high GPA, it would be easy for you to land an entry-level data analysis job. Even if you don’t have a specialization in data analysis, but a degree in mathematics, statistics, or economics from a well-reputed University, can easily land a data analysis entry-level job.

Most entry-level data analyst jobs require at least a bachelor level degree. Higher-level data analyst jobs usually guarantee a higher pay and may require you to have a master’s or a doctoral degree. Having a master’s degree in Data Science or Business Analytics is very helpful. If you are interested in data analytics, you should consider earning a master’s degree.

Apart from the degree, you can also enroll in online courses if that what interests you the most, then the path you take to be qualified can be anything. You may want to check out the top 10 data analytics courses here.


Skills of the candidate can be further classified into three categories, let us discuss them in detail:

  • Technical Skills

Programming Languages: As a data analyst, you should be proficient in at least one programming language. However, the more languages you are proficient in, the better it is. Popular programming languages that can be used to manipulate data are R, Python, C++, Java, MATLAB, PHP, and more.

Data Management and Manipulation: As a data analyst, you should be familiar with languages, such as R, HIVE, SQL, and more. Building queries to extract the desired data is an essential aspect of data analysis. Once you have analyzed the data, you would have to create accurate reports. Some standard tools for doing the same are SAS, Oracle Visual Analyzer, Microsoft Power BI, Cognos, Tableau, and more.

  • Soft Skills

Domain Knowledge and Excellent Communication Skills: A data analyst’s job is to provide detailed and accurate information to the decision-makers. Hence, data analysts must understand the specific user requirements, along with having a deep understanding of the data. Excellent communication skills are essential for collaboration with the various clients, executives, IT specialists, to ensure that the data aligns well with the business objectives. Ultimately, the analysis done by a data analyst modifies/improves some business processes.

  • Practical Skills

High Level of Mathematical Ability: Knowledge of statistics and the right comfort level with formulae required for analyzing data to provide real-world value. As a data analyst, you should have a good grasp of mathematics, and you should be able to solve common business problems, for example, calculating compound interest, depreciation, statistical measures (for example, mean, median, mode). Also, you should know how to use tables, charts, graphs, and more. It is essential to be comfortable with college-level algebra, thereby Making visualization of data more appealing. Knowing linear algebra and multivariate calculus is very helpful for data analysts as they are all extensively used in performing Data Analysis.

Microsoft Excel: Organizing data and calculating numbers are among the main tasks of data analysts. Hence it is beneficial if you are comfortable with using Excel. There are many great online sources where you can learn how to use Excel to its full potential.

Data Analyst Salary

Different factors account for the salary being paid to a data analyst professional, these mainly being education, location, skills, and experience.

Let us see the average salaries for different experience levels in INR and USD.

Entry Level Data Analyst
Salary Range in INR ₹172,794 – ₹716,015
Salary Range in USD $40,585 – $78,832
Mid Level Data Analyst
Salary Range in INR ₹289,109 – ₹1,186,711
Salary Range in USD $45,244 – $91,092
Experienced Data Analyst
Salary Range in INR ₹363,414 – ₹1,970,089
Salary Range in USD $45,280 – $99,542

Data Analyst Career Path

Skilled data analysts are in demand in almost every sector. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the predicted growth rate in demand for data analysts for the next seven years is 19%. Data analysis is considered to be the most crucial skill, so every professional should learn Data Science as soon as possible to excel in a career. Some industries where the demand for data analysts is quite high are as follows:

  • Market Research: 72% of marketers consider data analysis to be vital for thriving in the present marketing landscape. The success of the marketing campaigns can be understood using data analysis. Also, data analysis can be used by companies for a market research before launching a new product or service.
  • Finance and Investments: Financial institutions generally require entry-level data analysts as well as expert ones. At many financial institutions, such as investment banks, the most common career path taken by data analysts is that of management. If you prove to be the best among your peer group, you are considered for promotion by the senior management as they consider you as someone who could manage new hires well.
  • Sales: There are many data related to sales of products and services in a company that is analyzed, which helps in increasing sales and customer satisfaction and also in identifying the potential sales barriers. Hence, a requirement for data analysts arises in this sector, as well.

A data analyst fresher makes a handsome salary, and the range of the salary depends on his/her expertise and skill-set. The skills required as a fresher may vary across the industry.

For example, the typical job of a Data Analyst is to run queries against the available data for finding the important trends and processing the data that might be of use to Data Scientists. In general, the Data Analysts are very good at database query languages, for example, SQL. They may also write scripts and produce visuals on the data available to them for better understanding.

A Data Scientist, on the other hand, builds models using Machine Learning. These models are used to make several predictions and can also explain the future of the organization. Data Scientists work closely with Data Analysts while preparing the data to be used for the machine learning models. However, the salaries of Data Scientists are much higher than those of Data Analysts because of very high demand and low supply.

Many Data Analysts gain relevant skills and become Data Scientists. The transition to becoming a Data Scientist is not very difficult for Data Analysts since they already have some relevant skills. Many Data Analysts go on to become Data Scientists.

The designations of a Data Analyst would depend on the company he/she works. However, generally, the technical work of the Data Analysts keeps on decreasing, and the managerial work keeps on increasing as they climb up the corporate ladder. After a certain point, the promotion starts to depend on the leadership and managerial skills. Hence, Data Analysts need to work on their soft skills as well.

How to Become a Data Analyst?

To become a data analyst, you must first earn a Bachelor’s degree, which is a requirement for most of the entry-level data analyst positions. The relevant disciplines include Finance, Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, and Information Management.

Considering that you don’t have any prior work experience as a data analyst, the most important task is to gain relevant work experience. As with a majority of professions, work experience is invaluable for a data analyst too. Fortunately, because of the massive demand for data analysts, there are many data analysis internship opportunities. You can work as an intern, which would help you gain the relevant work experience and also add a star to your resume.

Data analysis deals with understanding changing trends and technologies, which makes it essential for a data analyst to commit himself/herself to lifelong learning. You can take up MOOCs to ensure that you keep learning new things relevant to data analysis, which helps you stay ahead of the curve.

How to Become a Data Analyst with No Experience?

If you plan to switch being a data analyst but bear no experience in the industry, you can probably start with a degree in an online course in data analysts. The course would make your foundation strong in the subject, also allowing you to build practical projects and learn and develop your skills. Moving on, you can get into an internship or pick up some freelance work to gain experience and add to your profile this way would stand out and have an edge when you start looking for a high profile job as a data analyst.

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Harshita Srivastava

Harshita Srivastava

Harshita is a graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. She is a technical writer and a blogger. An entrepreneurship and machine learning enthusiast, who loves reading and is a huge fan of Air Crash Investigation! View all posts by the Author

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priya sri
priya sri

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!
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Abhinav 360
Abhinav 360 10 Points

I was just browsing through the internet looking for some information and came across your blog. I am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more.

Abhinav 360
Abhinav 360 10 Points

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing.


where can I find internships?

joyce adekugbe
joyce adekugbe

where can I find internship oppeotunities

Maha ab
Maha ab

Thank u so much, this is really helpful for me... very clear organized points.


thank you for a useful information.. it really helpful to me


Thanks. Paul From Uganda. Its a distinctive and clear guide


I'm been working in Business Intelligence for 14 years using SQL, Brio, Hyperion Designer, Looker, Denodo and Birst. Any suggestions for how I might transition into Data Science? I've taken two Tableau courses on Coursera and I'm taking a Tableau A to Z course on Udemy. I plan on taking a Python A to Z course on Udemy next. Thanks. Jim

Barbara J Guster
Barbara J Guster

Hello, my question is will Human Service bachelor degree's on professional studies get accepted as readily as a bachelor's degree in marketing?
Now if continuing education is the key; what do you suggest?

Barbara Guster

Adedeji Hammed Adewale
Adedeji Hammed Adewale

I have experience but I still need it. So, me know how it is going to be.