How to Become a Data Analyst in 5 Steps

A data analyst collects and analyzes data in order to communicate information on a specific subject. Read on to learn more about how to become a database analyst, including education and certification requirements and recommendations. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Data Analyst Career Essentials

Data analysts, sometimes called survey researchers, collect data through surveys or other types of research. The primary role of a data analyst is to interpret the data so that others can use it for decision-making purposes. This sometimes requires presenting data in the form of graphs, charts, or reports. Data analysts generally work indoors in an office setting. Some examples of similar occupations include economists, mathematicians, psychologists, market research analysts, and statisticians.

Data Analyst Degree Requirements Minimum of a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs; a master's degree is often required
Key Skills Communication, problem-solving, analytical, and critical-thinking skills; strong attention to detail; knowledge of computer programs, such as SQL databases, SharePoint, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Access
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 1% (for all survey researchers)*
Median Salary (2019) $59,732**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

How to Become a Data Analyst

Step 1: Complete Minimum Data Analyst Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for some entry-level jobs in this field. There is no specific data analyst degree or requirement for what to study to become a data analyst, but students would benefit from taking courses in topics such as mathematics, statistics, survey methodology, research methods, and computer science, along with business and social science courses.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

Aspiring data analysts may find it beneficial to gain hands-on experience through a fellowship or internship. These can be helpful experiences to put on a resume and can also help determine whether or not this career is the right fit for you.

Step 3: Complete a Data Analyst Degree at the Graduate Level

Although a bachelor's degree is adequate for some roles, most professionals enter this career with at least a master's degree, and a doctoral level degree can be advantageous as well. Therefore, to have a more likely chance of finding work as a data analyst or progressing in your career, a master's degree or Ph.D. is recommended.

There are a variety of graduate programs that can be useful for a career in data analysis. This can include a master's or Ph.D in statistics, marketing research, survey research, or a program within the field of social sciences.

Step 4: Obtain Employment in the Field

Data analyst positions can be found at a variety of organizations in many different fields. Requirements may vary somewhat from position to position, as there may be industry-specific qualifications needed. For example, a sampling of 2019 job postings included preferences for candidates who know a foreign language, have experience in the home lending industry, and have had previous work in an administrative role in an office.

Step 5: Become Certified

Although certification is not required to meet the minimum standards for a career as a data analyst, it does demonstrate a level of professionalism and knowledge that could help you advance in your career. The Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) is offered by the Insights Association. The certification requires a knowledge of ethical standards, new technologies in the field, and updated research techniques. Candidates for this certification are also required to have at least three years of work experience prior to applying. In order to maintain the Professional Researcher Certification, continuing education courses are needed and application for renewal takes place every two years.

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