How To Become A Data Analyst In 2021?

Catherine Cooke

21 March, 2021

How to become a Data Analyst

Are you thinking about a career change?

And you’ve decided that becoming a Data Analyst is the path you want to go down. Well, firstly I think you have made an excellent choice as not only is it a highly employable career that is well paid, but it is a job of today and of the future. There are now many types of organizations who collect data and use it to make or improve decision-making.

But before we get ahead of ourselves I am sure you have a few questions you want answering like; What exactly does a Data Analyst do? What qualifications do I need? What is a Data Analyst Salary? Which organizations need a Data Analyst?

To answer all these questions let’s delve into this detailed article on How to become a Data Analyst and find out all there is you need to know.

What does a Data Analyst do?

We live in a time when companies and organizations receive an enormous amount of information and data. This data is gathered and analyzed by a Data Analyst, who will then provide the organization with the results that can help improve decision-making and predictions for their future business.

All types of organizations benefit from data analysts from the health care industry to retail, food sector, marketing and more. The data gathered could be based on a variety of subjects like; How to improve customer experience, How to reduce material costs, Which new products to develop and much more. All this collected data is to improve procedures and boost the profits of the company and organization.

What does a Data Analyst Do?

The role of a Data Analyst

Whether you are working for a client or organization in the food sector or marketing your day-to-day role as a Data Analyst will have some similarities. It will start with defining the problem, then collecting and cleaning data, then on to spotting patterns and finally creating reports and visualizations.

Define the Problem

The first and most important part is determining what the client or organization actually needs. So, that means defining the problem whether its analysis on a product, a dashboard or reports. Once you have that defined you can create a plan of action along with time frames which you may need to communicate to the rest of the team.

Collect & Clean the Data

A key part is collecting your data which may come from multiple sources (databases, backups, flat files or APIs) which you then need to put together into one place. You will be working alongside the programmers to extract this data. Once you have this data it will need to be cleaned up as inevitably it will be messy. It’s important the data collection is well organized, and the Data Analyst will work to develop a methodical technique which can be easily modified. Specialized tools and software are used to create this infrastructure. This is a critical part of the process as it means later on the data is easier to manage and use again.

Spotting patterns

A successful Data Analyst can spot patterns in the data, which could form its weekly, monthly or quarterly reports depending on how often the client wants the reports. These significant patterns help the Data Analyst find trends which they can use to make recommendations to the client or organization.

Collaborating with others

You may be led to believe that a Data Analyst works pretty solitary, but actually, it’s quite the opposite of the truth. The majority of Data Analysts responsibilities mean that they collaborate not only with their immediate data science team like database developers and data architects, but they also work closely with other employees in the organization like executives and marketers. Another key ingredient a Data Analyst needs is the ability to communicate well with his/her peers when delivering findings and the final presentation.

Create Reports & Visualizations

This is the final part of the process when the Data Analyst produces the reports or visualizations, which can be created automatically, and provided to the client or organization with the latest data as regularly as they would like it. These reports will give management an insight into new trends and areas that the company may need to improve on.

What you need to know to become a Data Analyst?

There are some key subject areas that you need as a building block to become a Data Analyst. By putting together these key skills you will have the ultimate package in becoming a Data Analyst. Or maybe you already have knowledge in some key subject areas, and you are lacking in others. Below I have highlighted these specific subject areas and recommended courses to help you on your Data Analyst path.

Programming

It is the core skill that any Data Analyst needs, and you need to be proficient in at least one programming language. If you are familiar with more than one programming language then even better. Starting with either Python or R programming languages and then branching out to Java, MATLAB and PHP will give you a great foundation.

Recommended Programming Courses

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals – This course is brought to you by Coursera and partnered with the University of Toronto. This course introduces the fundamental building blocks of programming and teaches you how to use the programming language Python.

Statistics

A strong foundation in statistics is an important part of becoming a Data Analyst as this will help you to analyze and explore the data you are working with.

Recommended Statistics Courses

Statistics and R – This course is brought to you by edX and partnered with Harvard University. This course introduces the basic statistical concepts and R programming skills necessary for analyzing data.

Math

Being comfortable and familiar with numbers is another key component in becoming a Data Analyst. A knowledge of algebra is necessary to manipulate algebraic expressions and to solve equations.

Recommended Math Courses

Math for Data Science and Machine Learning using R – This course is brought to you by Udemy where you will master the fundamental mathematical concepts required for Data Science and Machine Learning.

Machine Learning
Having an understanding in machine learning algorithms enables data professionals to make predictions or calculated suggestions based on a huge amount of data. The three main types of machine learning that data analysts should know are supervised learning, unsupervised learning and reinforcement learning.

Recommended Machine Learning Courses

Machine Learning – This course is brought to you by Coursera where you will learn the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.

What you need to know to become a Data Analyst?

What skills does a Data Analyst need?

To be a successful Data Analyst you need a variety of Technical, Practical and Soft skills. These must-have skills will help you to stay competitive and industry ready in your role. Below the table I have highlighted and described in detail what I consider the most important skills from the above list.

Technical Practical Soft
Python and R Creative and Analytical Thinking Strong and Effective Communication skills
SQL Presentation Skills Team player
Tableau/Power BI Challenge thinking Clear explanation of complex concepts
Microsoft Excel Offer opinions Good listening skills
Google Analytics Problem-solving skills Domain Knowledge

 

SQL

SQL or (Structured Query Language) is the industry-standard database language. It is often thought of as the graduated version of Excel and is for handling larger datasets that Excel simply can’t.

Recommended SQL Courses

Introduction to SQL – This course is brought to you by Datacamp where you will master the basics of querying tables in relational databases such as MySQL, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. The class is 4 hours long and ideal for beginners.

Python and R

Like SQL, R and Python can handle what Excel can’t. They are powerful statistical programming languages used to perform advanced analyses and predictive analytics.

Recommended Python Courses

Python for Everybody Specialization – This course is brought to you by Coursera and partnered with the University of Michigan where you will learn to program and analyze data with Python, develop programs to gather, clean, analyze, and visualize data.

Presentation Skills

Being comfortable presenting to a room of people isn’t something we should take for granted, actually most of us get very nervous and feel a sense of dread about standing in front of people. Like most things in life, with practice you will begin to feel more comfortable.

Recommended Presentation Skills Courses

Business Presentation Skills – Excellence Made Easy – This course is brought to you by Udemy which will help you become a confident presenter. You will learn how to give clear, confident and effective business presentations.

Creative and Analytical Thinking

Another important skill as a Data Analyst is to be able to look at problems with a creative and analytical eye. This way the Analyst is able to ask interesting and thought-provoking questions which will make the client or organization think outside the box.

Recommended Critical and Analytical Courses

Critical Thinker Academy: Learn to Think Like a Philosopher – This course is brought to you by Udemy where you will learn fundamental concepts of critical thinking from logic, argument analysis, reasoning with probabilities and more.

Effective Communication Skills

Feeling comfortable conveying your findings in a strong and effective way to your audience (the client or organization) means they will trust what you are saying and be on the same page.

Recommended Effective Communication Courses

Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation Specialization – This course is brought to you by Coursera which will help you to build your communication skills for professional success. You will master business writing and presentation skills.

Team Player

The role of a Data Analyst means being an active team player who can collaborate and work with programmers, IT specialists and executives. To be a Data Analyst you should feel comfortable joining forces with others.

Recommended Team Player Courses

Developing Your Team – Forming to Performing – This course is brought to you by Udemy which is a team building guide. This course will help you to build a high performing self-directed team.

Data Analyst salary

The field of Data Analysis is still fairly new, so the salary results are based on job search sites like Glassdoor, Monster and Indeed. The average Data Analyst can expect to have an annual salary of $70,000.

Data Analyst (Entry level): $45,000 – $60,000

Data Analyst (Mid level): $65,000 – $85,000

Data Analyst (Senior level): $85,000 – $110,000

It’s important to remember that careers in the Data Analytics field are highly employable, and it’s an industry that is ever-growing and most definitely is a job for the future.

Popular Data Analyst courses and learning programs

Popular Data Analyst Courses and Learning Programs

Learning and training online is becoming more and more popular due to its convenience and cost. So getting job ready qualifications to become a Data Analyst is no different. I have highlighted the most popular courses from the most reputable elearning platforms.

Udacity

Data Analyst Udacity Courses

Why choose an Udacity?

Udacity is a platform that offers learning programs on courses that focus on programming, business, data science and more. Its courses are designed to give you real employable skills that are based around real-world projects.

What is the course/learning program?

Become a Data Analyst: A Nanodegree learning program where you will learn Data Analysis with Python and SQL. The program will cover Introduction to Data Analysis, Practical Statistics, Data Wrangling and Data Visualization with Python.

What prior skills should I have?

You should have experience working with Python (specially NumPy and Pandas) and SQL. This includes Python standard libraries and working with data Pandas and Numpy.

How long is the course/learning program?

The estimated time is 4 months working 10 hours a week.

How much is the course/learning program?

$1116 for 4 months access or pay $279 per month

> Check out How to Become a Data Analyst here

> Read detailed Udacity Review here

Other Popular Udacity Data Analyst courses

> Programming for Data Science with Python

> Business Analytics

Coursera

Data Analyst Coursera Courses

Why choose a Coursera?

Coursera is one of the most prestigious online educational platforms that offers courses on Data Science, Business, Health and much more. Coursera’s learning programs are partnered with 200+ top Institutions and Universities like (Imperial College and Stanford) and when you successfully complete a learning program with Coursera you will receive a verified certificate.

What is the course/learning program?

IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate: This course is partnered with IBM and teaches you the job-ready skills for an in-demand career as a data analyst

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need to have a degree or any prior experience.

How long is the course/learning program?

The estimated time is 11 months to complete working 3 hours a week.

How much is the course/learning program?

A 7-Day free trial for new users and then $39 per month

> Try out IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate here

> Read detailed Coursera Review here

Other Popular Coursera Data Analyst courses

> Data Analysis and Visualization Foundations

> Introduction to Data Analytics

Udemy

Data Analyst Udemy Courses

Why choose Udemy?

Udemy is one of the largest online educational platforms that offers over 150,000 courses on pretty much any topic you could imagine. Udemy’s courses are affordable and self-paced and you will receive a certificate of completion.

What is the course/learning program?

The Data Analyst Course: Complete Data Analyst Bootcamp 2021: This course will prepare you for a career as a Data Analyst and will cover all the fundamental topics.

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need to have a degree or any prior experience.

How long is the course/learning program?

The course is 20 hours 53 minutes, 27 sections and 274 lectures

How much is the course/learning program?

The course is $109.99 but Udemy often offers discounts

> Try out The Data Analyst Course: Complete Data Analyst Bootcamp 2021 here

> Read detailed Udemy Review here

Other Popular Udemy Data Analyst courses

> Practical SQL Bootcamp for Data Analysts and Data Scientists

> Data Analysts Toolbox: Excel, Python, Power BI

Datacamp

Data Analyst Datacamp Courses

Why choose Datacamp?

Datacamp is an online platform that specializes in topics like data science and analytics. It offers close to 350 courses which are taught by expert instructors from Datacamp as well as top Institutions like Duke University. Its courses are engaging and interactive and many are ideal for beginners.

What is the course/learning program?

Data Analyst with R: This career track will help you gain the analytical skills to import, clean, manipulate and visualize data in R.

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need any coding experience.

How long is the course/learning program?

The course is 77 hours and 19 courses

How much is the course/learning program?

The Standard Datacamp subscription is $25.00 which will give you access to this career track.

> Data Analyst with R

> Read detailed Datacamp Review here

Other Popular Datacamp Data Analyst courses

> Data Analyst with Python

> Data Analyst with SQL Server

edX

Data Analyst edX Courses

Why choose edX?

edX is an elearning platform that offers learning programs on subjects like Data Science, Computer Science, Business, Engineering. Design and much more. It’s 3,000+ online courses are partnered with the world’s best Universities, Colleges and Organizations. When you successfully complete a course you will receive an accredited certificate.

What is the course/learning program?

Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods – This course will teach you essential analytic tools like R, Python, SQL and you will learn fundamental models and methods of analytics and how and when to apply them.

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need any prior experience.

How long is the course/learning program?

The course will take 10 months to complete whilst working 8-10 hours a week.

How much is the course/learning program?

The full program experience is $2,475.

> Check our Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods here

> Read detailed edX Review here

Other Popular edX Data Analyst courses

> Data Analytics Basics for Everyone

> Introduction to Data Analytics for Managers

Treehouse

Data Analyst Treehouse Courses

Why choose Treehouse?

Treehouse is an online technology platform that offers 300+ courses in programming and design. Treehouse courses are designed around real-life projects which help to prepare you with the skills for a career in your chosen path. Its learning programs are self-paced and it offers a 7-day free trial that gives you full access to the platform.

What is the course/learning program?

Data Analysis Basics – In this course you will learn how to make better decisions with data. You will learn how to use data analysis to create better outcomes.

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need any prior experience, this course is designed for beginners.

How long is the course/learning program?

The course is only 75 minutes.

How much is the course/learning program?

The Courses subscription plan is $25 a month, but you will have a 7-day free trial as a new user.

> Data Analysis Basics

> Read detailed Treehouse Review here

Other Popular Treehouse Data Analyst courses

> Cleaning and Preparing Data

> Data Visualization with Excel

Pluralsight

Data Analyst Pluralsight Courses

Why choose Pluralsight?

Pluralsight is an elearning platform for technology related topics like IT, Data, Software Development and much more. It has a library of over 7,500+ courses which focus on developing the skills of tomorrow. Its courses are self-paced and you it offers a 10-day free trial to try out the platform.

What is the course/learning program?

Data Analytics: Hands On – In this course you will learn all the key concepts in the world of data analytics. This course will walk you through everything you need to know and introduce you to every key area.

What prior skills should I have?

You don’t need any prior experience, this course is designed for beginners.

How long is the course/learning program?

The course is 5 hours 1 minute.

How much is the course/learning program?

You can pick either the monthly $29 or annual $299 which includes a 10-day free trial.

> Data Analytics: Hands on

> Read detailed Pluralsight Review here

Other Popular Pluralsight Data Analyst courses

> Data Analytics Literacy

> Data Analytics on Google Cloud

Last Thoughts: How to become a Data Analyst

I hope this detailed review has given you an insight into what it takes to become a Data Analyst. It’s important before taking any course or qualification to ask yourself a few questions: How long can you commit to studying? How much can you afford to spend? Are you looking for a verified certificate? Is career advice after taking the course important to you?

Once you have answered those questions finding the right course should be straightforward.

In short, you will love the role as a Data Analyst;

  • Highly employable career
  • Competitive salary
  • Team Player
  • Strong and Effective communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills

 

Catherine Cooke

Hey. I am Catherine and have been working as a freelancer for many years now and I believe that you are in charge of your own destiny. If learning a new skill or having a career change is something you want to do, then there is no better time than the present. If you have a question please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.
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