What Does A Data Analyst Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Data Analysts

Data Analysts collect, process, and analyze large datasets. They often attempt to detect specific trends to help Data Scientists or Market Researchers make better predictions.

Bachelor's degree

Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

Data Analyst is a relatively new career path that focuses on processing and analyzing large datasets using advanced computer software. Data Analysts are the ones responsible for making sense of the “big data” that corporations collect.

Data Analysts are often confused with Data Scientists. While Data Analysts analyze data and generate reports, Data Scientists help determine what to do with the data. Working as a Data Analyst is also less likely to require an advanced degree unless you want to achieve a managerial position. Here is a closer look.

What they do

Data Analysts collect, process, and analyze large datasets. They often attempt to detect specific trends to help Data Scientists or Market Researchers make better predictions.

Collect and Clean Large Datasets

Collecting and processing data takes up most of the typical day in the life of a Data Scientist. They need to obtain data from one or more databases or data systems. The data that they collect is often selected based on specific requirements, such as reviewing sales figures from the previous quarter or analyzing manufacturing waste.

After collecting data, Data Analysts need to process and clean it to verify the quality of the data. The data must be accurate, complete, and consistent. Data cleaning involves removing duplicate data entries, fixing structural errors, and filtering out unwanted information. Data Analysts may also need to search for missing data or incomplete entries.

Use Computer Software to Analyze Data

Data Analysts typically use advanced computer software to analyze large datasets, as scrolling through thousands of rows and columns to find specific figures would take forever. The software allows Data Analysts to search the data for the information that they require.

Due to the use of computer software, Data Analysts often have backgrounds in Computer Science. They may also be required to understand certain programming languages or database languages to interact with the software. A Data Analyst may need to write scripts that are used by the software to carry out well-defined searches.

Look for Patterns and Trends in the Data

Data Analysts are often tasked with finding trends when analyzing data. They try to make sense of the data and find patterns that are not immediately apparent when looking at a subset of the data. The information that they obtain may help businesses improve their processes or strategies.

Along with looking for patterns or trends, Data Analysts may be required to find specific figures or occurrences. For example, an organization may need a Data Analyst to find all instances that match specific criteria.

Generate Reports Based on Data Analysis

Data Analysts create reports to help others understand the results of their analysis. They explain complex data in simple language, allowing non-technical individuals to digest the information and use it to make more informed decisions.

Collaborate with Other Departments

Data Analysts often collaborate with other departments to gain a better sense of what they should be looking for when analyzing the data. For example, a Data Analyst may collaborate with the marketing department when reviewing marketing data. Along with the marketing department, Data Analysts may receive instructions from executives or salespeople.

Create and Maintain Databases

Some organizations require Data Analysts to create and maintain the databases used to store data. However, these responsibilities may also be assigned to the IT department.

The scope of the Data Analyst’s job often depends on the size of the organization. Smaller companies may require Data Analysts to be more hands-on. Along with maintaining databases, they may need to set up software on workstations to supply the databases with data.

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What is the job like


The Work is Challenging

Analyzing data and using complex mathematical formulas can be challenging, which helps make this job more rewarding.

You Can Work in Any Industry

Data Analysts are employed in almost every industry, providing a versatile range of career options if you get bored of your current industry.

There Is Room for Advancement

Data Analysts enjoy job stability, but also have the potential to advance to higher positions, such as Data Scientist.

Your Analyses May Help Others

Data Analysts tend to enjoy when the information that they provide helps others make improvements in their processes or strategies.


Some Tasks Are Tedious

Data cleaning is often considered boring and tedious but is a necessary task to ensure that the data is complete and valid.

You Do Not Always Find What You Want

You may not always find the information that you were hoping to uncover, which can limit your job satisfaction.

Where they work

Technology industry
Federal and state governments
Healthcare industry
Retail industry

The biggest employers of Data Analysts are large technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. Data Analysts also work for the federal government and state governments. The healthcare industry is another major source of jobs for Data Analysts.

Data Analysts also work in the retail industry, helping businesses analyze customer shopping data. The marketing industry employs Data Analysts to help find marketing trends.

How to become one

Step 1: Complete the Highest Level of Math

High school students should focus on their math skills, as Data Analysts need to understand complex mathematical models. Continue taking math classes after meeting the state minimum credits for graduations, which is typically just two years of math.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for Data Analysts. Common majors include Computer Science, Data Analytics, Statical Analysis, and Mathematics.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree

Earning a Master’s degree is an optional step for Data Analysts who want to reach the highest levels of their profession. Some senior positions may require an advanced degree. Common majors include Data Science and Data Analytics.

Step 4: Earn Voluntary Professional Certifications

Data Analysts may find it easier to obtain employment after earning one or more voluntary data analytics certifications. Data Analysts often obtain certificates related to the software that they will use, such as Cloudera, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft.

Step 5: Look for Entry-Level Jobs

After finishing college, start looking for entry-level work as a Data Analyst or a Junior Data Analyst. Data Analysts are needed in almost every industry, providing many career options.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Data Analysts are often inquisitive, which helps them continuously ask questions and find answers when reviewing large datasets. Data Analysts should also be methodical and logical, as they need to follow specific procedures and make sense of complex data.

Working as a Data Analyst also requires patience, as you may spend hours scanning data for missing or invalid entries. Interpersonal skills are also helpful for Data Analysts when reporting to executives and collaborating on projects.

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