How to become a data analyst

Posted: 27 Nov 2018

How to become a data analyst

Deciding to become a data analyst is a smart move in the current market where data skills are in high demand.

Across many different sectors—from retail, manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare to financial services and the public sector—Eolas Recruitment is seeing opportunities at entry, mid- and senior level for both contract and permanent roles.

Data analyst qualifications

For entry level data analyst roles, employers typically expect candidates to have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline. However, candidates with non-relevant degrees may be considered if they have relevant skills acquired through previous work or volunteer experience. Candidates who have completed relevant online courses and/or self-directed learning programmes, should mention this on their CV.

Progressing to more senior roles usually requires relevant experience and a Masters degree. You may be able to obtain this qualification while working and some employers will support suitable candidates willing to undertake postgraduate study in order to advance their career.

Data analyst job description

Data has never been more important for businesses. It drives efficiency and provides insights to support development and growth. As more and more devices are connected to the Internet of Things, demand is growing for data analysts who can create insights and opportunities and protect organisations from risk. Data analysis and business intelligence are a good foundation from which to progress into emerging areas like artificial intelligence and cyber security.

Typical data analyst job descriptions highlight a mix of technical and communication responsibilities. These may include some or all of the following:

  • Mining, manipulation, analysis and interpretation of data
  • Presentation of trends and patterns observed in data analysis to internal and external audiences
  • Creation of visual interpretations of data for use in presentations
  • Record management
  • Designing and implementing strategies for greater efficiency
  • Establishing and maintaining automated data processes
  • Monitoring key performance indicators
  • Monitoring data quality
  • Identifying, evaluating and implementing data validation and cleansing tools
  • Meeting with clients in order to understand their data content requirements

Competencies and skills that employers look for when interviewing for these roles generally include:

  • Analytical and interpretive skills
  • Highly organised and methodical with excellent attention to detail
  • Strong mathematical ability
  • Detailed knowledge of data analysis and relational database software such as Excel and MS Access
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Familiarity with legal and regulatory aspects of data collection and analysis, including GDPR.

In addition, data analysts applying for marketing roles will need to demonstrate familiarity with analytics software such as Google Analytics, keyword analysis tools such as Ahrefs and Ryte, and web analytics programmes such as Omniture and IBM Digital Analytics.

What are the prospects and salary for a data analyst?

Entry level salaries vary. Graduate schemes tend to secure their candidates positions in larger companies, meaning higher starting salaries. On average, a data analyst can expect to earn:

  • Entry level data analyst (graduate scheme) – €33,200
  • Data analyst – €45,000
  • Senior/consulting data analyst – €68,500 or more

Is the role of a data analyst right for me?

As with any role, there are pros and cons to consider when thinking about becoming a data analyst.

Pros of working as a data analyst include:

  1. Data analysts are in high demand and the field is continuing to expand
  2. An attractive salary, even in entry level roles
  3. Excellent opportunities for professional development – if you want to learn skills such as project management, your employer will usually facilitate this
  4. Your work directly shapes your company’s business strategy, giving you an increasingly large degree of influence the more experienced you become
  5. Travel for business is usually part of the role
  6. You can work for a wide range of companies in different sectors, offering career flexibility
  7. Once you have some experience, the role of data analyst is a flexible one – employers often offer flexible hours or even remote working, allowing you to have a lot of control over your working life and location

Cons of being a data analyst include:

  1. A bachelor’s degree is necessary for entry-level data analyst roles and progression to the most senior positions is difficult without a postgraduate qualification
  2. Overtime is usually expected when deadlines are approaching, but as data analysts have set salaries it is very rarely paid
  3. In addition to your numerical skills, you will need to learn programming languages like SQL in order to keep up with the volume of analysis – if you’re not naturally gifted at programming it could take a considerable amount of time to acquire the necessary skills
  4. Continuing your education is a mandatory part of the role given how quickly new data analysis tools are being created – you will need to stay on top of new technological and systems-based developments
  5. You will need to work to strict deadlines, so the role can be stressful
  6. You will be spending large amounts of time studying complicated numerical information in minute detail

Overall, if you enjoy learning and are excited by the power of data to drive businesses forward, then becoming a data analyst is a great way to advance your career. Experienced data analysts are in short supply which means there are excellent opportunities for individuals with the right qualifications and experience. So, if you are interested in hearing more and want to progress your career, get in touch with our expert recruiters for further information and advice.


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