Data analysis is one of the fastest-growing fields in the world of business. Becoming a data analyst can be rewarding, but you need to know what options are available to you.
Even though you can get started with data analysis without an extensive degree, jobs require some formal education. Depending on your current skill set and background, there are several possible paths that you can take to achieve this goal.
The following guide will help you understand each one and determine which is suitable for you and your future career path.
What does a data analyst do?
A data analyst is responsible for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data to help businesses make better decisions. They may utilize various statistical software programs to conduct these business analysis tasks.
Data analysts then use the data to build models that predict outcomes, trends, or patterns in the market. Managers can use their findings to make critical business decisions, such as pricing products appropriately or deciding where to invest money.
Data analysts can work in various sectors, including finance, retail, marketing, and more. To become a data analyst, you need math, economics, or statistics skills and some experience working in one of those fields.
Five key educational routes of a data analyst
Data analysis mostly features statistical and mathematical fields. To become a data analyst, gaining skills in the two areas is crucial.
Since you are familiar with what a data analyst does, you can decide which educational routes best suit your interests and skill set. Here are five different types of educational paths to becoming a data analyst:
- Enroll for a Bachelor’s Degree
A data analyst typically needs a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, or another field emphasizing analytical skills. A degree in business administration or economics can also be helpful.
Many employers require data analysts to have a degree in one of these fields. This way, they’ll have the knowledge and skills to understand the data and find ways to use it for strategic purposes.
Courses you might take include calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and programming languages like Java and Python. These courses play a big part in preparing students for careers as data analysts.
For instance, students will learn to interpret information and develop valuable skills necessary in any line of work, such as critical thinking and decision-making.
The ability to turn raw numbers into tangible ideas makes an individual well-suited for a career as a data analyst. You might do well if you have the aptitude for math and analytical thinking.
- Acquire a Master’s Degree
After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in any analytical data field, you might consider earning your master’s degree in the same area. A master’s degree in data analytics will give you the skills and knowledge you need to pursue a career in this field.
A master’s degree will take 2-3 years, which means you won’t be able to earn one while holding down a full-time job. If you are not looking to return to school but want to learn new skills, consider pursuing an Online Master’s in Data Science.
This option will offer you more flexibility in your schedule to learn new skills without leaving your current job. The courses you will discover online include statistical modeling, machine learning, and high-performance computing.
With a master’s degree, you’ll be able to command a higher salary and have more job opportunities available to you.
- Consider certification
While most entry-level jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, certifications are becoming more popular. One way to become a data analyst is to get certified through a program like the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) program.
Online learning platforms offer certification programs in data analytics, such as Machine Learning Specialization and Data Science Specialization. This path might be the right choice for those who want an in-depth understanding of data science without focusing on programming.
This certification will show that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful data analyst. Additionally, it can make you more attractive to potential employers.
- Get a foundational education
A data analyst needs a strong foundation in math and statistics. A bachelor’s degree in a quantitative field such as mathematics, economics, or computer science is a good start.
But if you don’t have a degree in one of those fields, you can still become a data analyst. Plenty of online courses will teach you the basics of math and statistics.
You can also take an introductory data analytics course from a university or community college.
It’s also important to know programming languages like SQL, SAS, R, and Python because they’re used extensively in data systems.
These languages are widely available at community colleges, vocational schools, online learning platforms, and through self-study using books/videos/online tutorials.
- Work on projects with real data
Working on projects with actual data will give you first-hand experience with the type of work that data analysts do daily. It will also help you build up your portfolio, which can be helpful when applying for jobs.
If you cannot find any opportunities on data analysis projects, try getting involved in open-source software or communities. These are great places where people share their skills and knowledge, and there are plenty of opportunities for beginners to contribute.
That way, you’ll gain new skills and insights and have something to show potential employers.
You can take many different educational routes to become a data analyst. Some people may choose to get a degree in computer science, while others may decide to study for a degree in mathematics or statistics.
Many online courses and boot camps can teach you the skills you need to be a data analyst. Most importantly, you must have the desire to learn and the willingness to do the hard work.
With the world relying on data for many aspects of daily life, demand for skilled analysts is increasing. These positions are often very lucrative, so if you love math and enjoy working with numbers, these careers may be a good fit.