What Does a Data Analyst Do? (With Requirements and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 24, 2023

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses constantly seek strategies to improve their systems, productivity, sales, and other aspects. Data analysts mine and analyze data to help these businesses make informed choices and decisions that can boost profits and productivity. Knowing these professionals' requirements and job responsibilities can help you decide if you want to pursue a career in the data field. In this article, we answer, "What does a data analyst do?" discuss the profession's requirements, skills, salary, and work environment, and explain types of data analytics.

What does a data analyst do?

The answer to, "What does a data analyst do?" is that they work with data to help companies improve the valuable aspects of their business operations, such as efficiency and productivity. They do this by retrieving, analyzing, and organizing the information contained in the data to draw valuable conclusions. The job responsibilities of a data analyst include:

  • Analyzing data and putting it in a readable format

  • Mining data from primary or secondary sources, such as data systems and databases

  • Maintaining databases and data systems

  • Developing and implementing data collection systems, databases, and other strategies to optimize statistical efficiency and quality

  • Interpreting the data trends to make valuable inferences using statistical techniques

  • Identifying new process improvement opportunities from the trends

  • Working with management to prioritize information and business needs

  • Filtering and cleaning data by reviewing relevant computer reports and performance indicators

  • Locating and correcting code problems

  • Preparing reports that communicate trends, patterns, and predictions for the executive team

Related: 14 Data Analyst Career Options (With Salaries and Duties)

Data analyst requirements

The requirements necessary to work as a data analyst include:

Education

Most data analysts have degrees in mathematics, computer science, and other related fields, like statistics, economics, and information management. It's common for data analysts to further their education by completing a graduate degree in relevant fields. The coursework for these degrees can equip you with the basic skills necessary to work as a data analyst. For example, the coursework for computer science and statistics may involve learning and using tools such as Excel. This can be advantageous as data analysts use several statistical tools to complete tasks.

You can also pursue other forms of professional development, such as taking training courses. These courses can be physical or virtual. It can also be helpful to stay updated with the latest technology and computer systems used to collect and analyze data.

Related: What Are Data Analyst Internships? (With Required Skills)

Experience

Employers typically prefer candidates with past work experience in the discipline. These candidates are more likely to have valuable expertise and basic data analysis skills. You can start an internship program in school or after school in relevant fields. Starting with an entry-level position in an organization can also help you build technical and soft skills.

Related: Top 10 Data Analyst Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Certifications

Depending on the organization you intend to work for, earning relevant certifications may be a requirement. Regardless of whether they're mandatory, you can impress your employer by having useful certifications. These certifications can equip you with the necessary training and skills to work in the data mining and analysis field. Popular certifications include:

Certified Analytics and Insight Professionals in Canada (CAIP Canada)

This is the certified body for Canada's Certified Analytics and Insights Professionals (CAIPs), and its mission is to maintain the highest ethical standards that protect the public trust. This certification comes with a CAIP designation. With this certification, you may show your employer you possess the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary for the job.

SAS advanced analytical professional certification

The SAS global certifications offer a variety of certifications in advanced analytics. These certifications can help you prove your credibility, validate your skills, and show your employer you've received in-depth training from industry experts. Upon completing the certification programs and training, you earn a badge you can share on social media to show what you've accomplished.

Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

This certification can help you convey a sense of credibility and prestige as it enables you to gain and develop the necessary analytical skills. Upon applying for the certification, you can prepare to take the CAP exam. Training materials and study guides are available on their online prep courses designed to orient analytics professionals in the various domains of analytics knowledge.

MongoDB Associate certifications

This certification can equip data analysts with an in-depth knowledge of databases and data systems. It's useful for data analysts who work with MongoDB databases. To earn this certification, candidates are to complete the MongoDB Certified Developer, Associate Level, or the MongoDB certified DBA, Associate Level exam.

Technical skills

To be a data analyst, it's necessary to possess technical skills that can help you mine and analyze data. Technical skills data analysts have include:

Data cleaning and preparing

Data analysts mine and collect data from both primary and secondary sources. They work together with web developers to optimize the process. The ability to prepare this data, so it's ready for numerical and categorical analysis, is crucial. With data cleaning and preparing skills, these professionals can use several tools to manage inconsistent data that can affect data analysis.

Data analysis and exploration

Data analysis is a skill a data analyst can use to improve essential business aspects. The process involves analyzing data to find trends or relationships that add value to a business. Data analysts use programming and statistical programming tools such as Excel, Python, and Structured Query Language (SQL) to analyze the data to get valuable inferences and results.

Data visualization

This is the ability to make trends and patterns in data into a format that's easier to understand. Data visualization skills help data analyst represent data and their findings in charts and plots. With data visualization, they may see numbers and variables that they might not have noticed when looking at the numbers alone. They use this skill to create compelling charts to help others understand the data.

Types of data analytics

There are different types of analytics data analysts use to do their job , including:

Descriptive analytics

This type of data analytics involves interpreting historical data to understand business trends and relationships. Data analysts analyze a range of data to identify patterns from which they can draw comparisons that are useful. Examples of this analytics are company reports tracking inventory, sales and revenue, and workflow. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance metrics are also examples of descriptive analytics.

Related: How to Become a Big Data Analyst (With Salary Expectations)

Diagnostic analytics

Data analysts use these analytics to evaluate the reason for a particular situation and the causes of trends and correlations between variables. They analyze data to get a deeper understanding of the causes of behaviours and events to answer critical workforce questions. These insights can help drive decision-making and strategy formulation for businesses.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics can help data analysts identify the likelihood of future occurrences based on historical data. They mine, prepare, and analyze data to extract information by studying trends and patterns. With the results from this analysis, businesses can make decisions and take action.

Related: What Is Sports Analytics? (Definition, Importance, and Tips)

Prescriptive analytics

This type of analytics involves the analysis of raw data to help businesses make better decisions. With prescriptive analysis, data analysts can suggest strategies to companies. They do this by factoring in information about possible scenarios, available resources, current performance, and past performance of a system.

Soft skills for data analysts

The skills necessary to thrive as a data analyst include:

Problem-solving skills

It's common for data analysts to encounter technical problems when performing their duties. Problem-solving skills can help them navigate complicated processes and manage issues when completing an assignment. These professionals also use these skills to provide effective business solutions for stakeholders.

Communication skills

Communication skills are necessary for data analysts, as they use this skill to relate the results of their analysis to concerned parties. The responsibilities of a data analyst include drafting reports and papers to explain terms to stakeholders, IT representatives, and other data analysts. Presentation is also a format these professionals employ to show charts and trends of analyzed data.

Attention to detail

Analyzing codes, data, or other technical variables requires attention to detail. The tasks involve assessing and reading technical structures and intricate coding to find functional patterns or trends. With this skill, analyzing data may be manageable and more productive.

Creative and analytical skills

Data analysts mine and analyze data to answer questions that can be valuable to improve business assets. Creativity skills help these professionals draft relevant questions to guide them when analyzing data. Knowing the data to collect and how to process it to get valuable information can be easier with these skills.

Read more: 18 Data Analyst Skills for Success

Salary and work environment of a data analyst

The national average salary of a data analyst is $76, 740 per year. Data analysts can work for small businesses, technical-scientific companies, financial firms, governments, or manufacturers. They spend time in an office or computer lab organizing and interpreting data, or improving current testing procedures. A data analyst can work with team leaders and executives of a company to help recommend sales, technical, and marketing changes.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data based on indeed salaries at the time of writing. Salary may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles