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How to Get Started as a Data Analyst: A Beginner's Guide – MUO – MakeUseOf

Are you interested in a data analysis career? Here’s how you can get started in this new age industry.
Data analytics is a fast-growing field that involves gathering, cleaning, and studying data to provide business information, drive market trends, and guide business decisions. Professionals in this field are known as data analysts, who derive valuable insights from raw data by analyzing it.
Today, the demand for data analysts is as high as ever, and there are many opportunities for skilled analysts to assist companies and organizations with their data needs. Here are the steps to starting a fulfilling career in data analytics.
To get started as a data analyst, you must understand the field and how it works.
You must know the skillsets, tools, and other requirements required to build a career in data analytics. A broad overview of what’s needed will allow you to decide early on if it’s a field you’re genuinely interested in and how to make it work.
Additionally, foundational computer programming, statistics, or math knowledge is an advantage for most data analytics roles. You don’t need a degree in these fields, although obtaining one may improve your resume and deepen your knowledge.
Alternatively, you can enroll in data analytics self-study courses, coding bootcamps, and certification programs to enhance your knowledge and gain experience.
Thriving in a data analyst role requires you to possess a wide range of technical skills. These include knowledge of hypothesis testing, probability distribution, and regression analysis.
Data analysts work with programming languages such as JavaScript, R, Python, and data query languages like SQL, so you must be proficient in them. For instance, you can gain real-world SQL experience by taking courses and working with raw datasets.
It would help if you also learned to use Microsoft Excel, Matlab, and IBM SPSS with different datasets and be familiar with data preparation and cleaning techniques.
Finally, learning to use data visualization tools like Tableau and Power BI is essential, so you know how to present the results of your analysis visually.
Practicing with real datasets is the most crucial step at the beginning of a data analyst’s career. You can only improve your skills when you consistently apply them to real-world scenarios.
As such, you can enroll in degree programs or online courses that include practical projects and datasets for you to work on and build models.
Alternatively, you may design personal projects using free datasets from government agencies or public companies to run your analyses. There are tons of data out there, and you decide which ones you find the most interesting.
Examples of public datasets to get you started include:
The next step in building a solid data analytics career includes compiling a strong portfolio of projects to demonstrate your expertise in the field.
While you may have worked with a few clients soon after learning the basics, a collection of your best personal projects will often be more important in your job search.
Potential employers want to see that you have the requisite skills to function within their organizations and provide value to them.
Consequently, you should spend time curating a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to:
You should also consider adding group projects to your portfolio, demonstrating your ability to work in a team. However, you must avoid making mistakes when building your online portfolio.
In today’s workplace, it’s not enough to merely be good at your job, which is analyzing data. Your ability to interpret, present, and communicate what you have worked on to colleagues, superiors, and clients is just as invaluable.
Work on speaking clearly and improving your storytelling ability. For a start, consider the purpose of your presentation and the points you want to highlight. Next, consider the best visual elements to convey your message, and remember to make them as clean and informative as possible.
Finally, consider your audience. Speak calmly, confidently, and make eye contact with the individuals you want to persuade or inform. These pointers will help you stay on track and present your findings effectively.
After building your skills, the next step in your career is to apply for data analyst roles. The demand for data analysts is very high across many industries, so you have an advantage.
However, you first have to spruce up your resume. Then, apply for data analyst jobs that fit your preferences and goals.
You should know that even though companies place job ads with long requirement lists, they are often willing to hire data analysts who may not meet tick all the boxes if the analyst possesses other valuable skills.
Your portfolio, skills, and interest in a role may be more critical to the employer than your academic or professional qualifications.
Additionally, you can apply for data analyst internships if you are a student with data analyst skills. These will provide real-world experience for your resume and allow you to utilize your skills in practical applications and settings.
Finally, whether you’re a newbie in the industry or have a few years of work experience, obtaining an advanced degree like a master’s or doctorate in data analytics or data science is an excellent way to consolidate your expertise.
The degree allows you to gain in-depth knowledge of specific data fields, which can help take your career to the next level.
Conversely, you may opt for an advanced certification program from an accredited educational provider or professional body. These certifications prove your expertise and willingness to grow and adapt to the evolving field.
You may want to check out some of these certification programs:
Data analytics will play a big role in technology, healthcare, education, and other sectors in the coming years. Consequently, getting into the industry now is a wise decision.
Following the tips in this article will help you get started on your journey to becoming a world-class data analyst, and you can rest assured that it’ll be the beginning of a great career.

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