How to Become a Data Analyst – 6 Actionable Steps

Published: October 12, 2023

With the advancement in technology and an increased reliance on data insights, we have seen growth in the data science industry and its related jobs in different sectors as well. For the record, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the data science sector will grow by approximately 28% by 2026, adding to the job boom for data analysts and other related professions.

Step by step guide to become a data analyst

When talking about data analyst salary, on average, a data analyst in the US takes home $82,207 annually. This remuneration is not only above the national average, but it also represents the lucrativeness of the field and how it is an emerging job market from which aspiring individuals can benefit.

But when looking at this opportunity, the first question that comes to my mind is how to become a data analyst. Why are you worrying? We are here to solve your dilemma. This guide lets you understand and take a step-by-step approach toward becoming a good data analyst.

We will also provide you with the job description and other requirements for a job. Lastly, we will highlight the best data science courses you can take to become a data analyst.

Let’s explore this one-of-a-kind guide toward becoming a data analyst together!

6 Major Steps to Become a Data Analyst in 2023 

Following are the steps to becoming a data analyst. Before we explore them in further detail, we recommend you keep a process-based approach toward these steps and consider taking these one day at a time.

  1. Get Foundational Knowledge In The Field
  2. Learn Important Data Analytics Skills
  3. Earn Certification
  4. Get An Entry-Level Job
  5. Get A Master’s Degree In Data Analytics
  6. Apply For Relevant Job

Let us further understand this step-by-step approach toward becoming a data analyst. Then, we shall discuss in detail of each step individually to help you develop a coherent understanding of the whole process.

1. Get Foundational Knowledge In The Field

First and foremost, everyone talks about qualifications and what are the fundamentals that an aspiring data analyst should know.

As the first step, you should get a foundational knowledge in the relevant field, data science. It would be best if you are well-versed in statistical tools and statistics in general.

Next, invest your time learning programming languages such as Python and SQL because these will help you develop codes and algorithms that will be pivotal in analyzing raw data. For learning programming languages, you can check out the best programming language courses available online.

2. Learn Important Data Analytics Skills

Once you have developed a command of different programming languages, it is time to put those to use and help you build your analytical skills. 

Statistical skills are critical when working as a data analyst because you need keen insight into what to extract and where to extract. You should clearly judge how to manipulate and verify databases and derive insights from them.

Following are the critical analytical skills that are a must for you.

  • R or Python programming
  • SQL (Structured Query Language
  • Statistics and statistical tools
  • Data visualization
  • Data cleaning and preparation

Alongside this, you should also polish your mathematical skills to help you make sense of the data and numbers in a better way.

3. Earn Certification

Another critical step in education for data analysts is earning a certification. As a professional, you know that no matter how well-defined your relevant skill set is, its credibility is enhanced and accepted when it is sealed with a certification or diploma.

Therefore, as one of the critical steps in becoming a data analyst is enrolling in a certification program in the field of data science, we recommend enrolling in one such as the one offered by Harvard data science certificate.

Not only that, but the best data science bootcamps also come with widely accepted certificates and diplomas to help you not only enhance your professional profile but add a seal of approval to your knowledge, hard work, and technical acumen.

4. Get an Entry-Level Data Analyst Job

The next step on your journey toward becoming a data analyst is to secure a job. They are relevant in every industry, whether it is finance, IT, automobiles, and even hospitality.

Another interesting thing to note is that the job titles for a data analyst vary according to the industry and even according to different departments. So we see an array of job titles that are, in their true sense, required to fill the role.

So keeping all of these in mind, you should work towards applying for and securing an entry-level job. Once you get relevant employment, you will be able to put all the learned skill sets that you have developed over a time period to practical use and polish them to another level of finesse.

Not only that, you will gain a truly insightful experience in the data science and analyst field which will help you further embrace the role of a data analyst.

The following 7 are some job titles for a data analyst position.

  1. Systems Analyst
  2. Operations Analyst
  3. Data Engineer
  4. Business Analyst
  5. Business Intelligence Analyst
  6. Database Administrator

5. Get a Master’s Degree In Data Analytics

The next step in becoming a data analyst is to further work on education and qualification. Your certification or course is one step ahead by securing a Master’s degree in data analytics. 

Given how rapidly the data analytics field is expanding, securing a postgraduate qualification in it does not only mean that you will be able to enhance your prospects as a data analyst further, but it also reflects well on your overall professional profile and helps you explore other positions in the industry as well.

6. Apply For Relevant Data Analyst Jobs

Getting a job is one of the main questions you will ask with the relevant qualification and developing the required skill set. Work on your resume and use relevant keywords to help you stand out in the pool of candidates. 

Given your experience in the field after your entry-level job, you should also aim for jobs requiring a certain level of expertise to secure a jump in your professional arena.

Data Analyst Job Description 

Let us now look at the job description and responsibilities. We have listed them in a list format for better understanding and clarity. Do understand that this job description is based on multiple available options and has been combined to make one comprehensive one. 

Therefore, it should not be taken as the only suitable description but as an example. Also, remember that a data analyst’s day-to-day operations and responsibilities vary from industry to industry and from department to department.

jobs available after becoming a data analyst
  1. Collecting and cleaning data to find trends and business insights 
  2. Envisioning, developing, and maintaining different dashboards, relationship databases, and systems
  3. Using different business intelligence software and programming tools to help different departments 
  4. Work with the management and IT teams to define and determine organizational goals and KPIs
  5. Analyze and interpret results by deploying different techniques and systematical tools using statistics
  6. Identify new areas for improvements and suggest best solutions supported by data
  7. Develop reports on your findings and process and inform the relevant stakeholders

Education Requirements to Become a Data Analyst

The education requirements for data analysts start with a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in computer science, statistics, or information systems. However, as the field is growing and becoming more complex day by day, employers also prefer potential employees with certifications or, if possible, a Master’s degree in data analytics.

Having a relevant diploma in a relevant programming language like SQL is a definite plus that helps you increase your attractiveness to companies and organizations.

Skills Required to Be a Data Analyst Specialist

We should now look at another one of the data analyst requirements, which is the needed skills and professional acumen.

  1. Programming Languages: Data analysts should be skilled in programming languages, as using a programming language, they can clean and visualize data as well as perform statistical analysis
  2. Effective And Strong Communication: All data analysts should be good communicators as they should be able to deliver and convey relevant insights and findings to stakeholders
  3. Data Visualization: Data visualization is a process that is mastered through trial and error. A successful data analyst should be skilled in visualization using different types of graphs and scale visualizations and how to adapt them to different markets.
  4. Data Warehousing:  Backend operations also require data analysts; therefore, they should be skilled in creating data warehouses and using querying languages to find and locate different sets of data
  5. Microsoft Excel Advanced Level: Data analysts should have a very strong command of Excel, especially when it comes to modelling and different analytic techniques and tools
  6. SQL Databases: Putting programming languages to another use, SQL databases are relational databases with structured data. Data analysts should be well-skilled with these to pull information from different sets of data tables and then perform a helpful analysis.

Average Salary of a Data Analyst 

We shall explore the average salary of a data analyst and comment on different salary ranges based on experience.

It is imperative to note that the average salary in the US for a data analyst is $82,207. The salary range, however, typically falls between $73,438 and $92,101.

But based on different regions of the country, the company profile, and the number of years of experience a professional has, the salary offered to a data analyst can vary. Add to these other factors like your certifications, negotiating skills, and state laws, and what you earn as a Data Analyst can be lower or higher than your counterparts.

List of Courses Available To Help You Become A Data Analyst 

We will now look at courses you can take to enhance your skills and knowledge. These courses will help you in your journey toward becoming a data analyst. 

  1. Complete Data Science Course – Udemy
  2. Data Science with Python PLUS Deep Learning & PostgreSQL – Udemy
  3. Probability & Statistics for Business & Data Science – Udemy
  4. IBM Data Science Professional Certificate – Coursera
  5. Introduction to Data Science Specialization – Coursera
  6. Data Science Graduate Certificate – Coursera
  7. Data Science 101: Python Data Visualization for Beginners – Skillshare
  8. Data Science Master’s Degree Program – Harvard Extension School
  9. Data Science Graduate Certificate – Harvard Extension School

Explore further details and analysis of these development courses that have been done using our review process. Before enrolling in any of these courses, take a look at the challenges of learning online, as all of these courses have an online availability.

How to Become a Data Analyst - FAQs

Is Data Analyst A Good Career?

Yes, becoming a data analyst is a good career choice, particularly when discussing the industry growth and the average salary outlook.

How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Data Analyst?‎

It takes a minimum of 3 to 4 years to become a data analyst because the minimum requirement of this profession is a Bachelor’s degree in a suitable field.

Can I Be a Data Analyst Without a Degree?‎

Certain data analyst positions do not require a formal university degree in the relevant field. Therefore you can become a data analyst if you have the proper certifications and courses on your profile, along with projects and assignments that make your skills stand out.

Are Data Analysts in Demand?‎

Data analysts are definitely in demand because the data science industry is growing. Given the dependence on technology and IT in every field, they are needed by nearly every sector now.

Conclusion 

Given the bright prospects and job outlook, nearly every data science or statistics graduate asks the same question: how to become a data analyst?

We have provided all the relevant information and knowledge in this guide in a step-by-step approach to help you become a data analyst and kickstart your journey in the data science field.

Given the sensitivity of a career choice, we recommend that you review all the material provided and analyze your career aspirations and then only reach a conclusion as to what steps and actions you will take to become a data analyst in your sector of choice.

We wish you the best of luck toward a successful and productive career.