The role of a data analyst

The role of a data analyst

What is a data analyst?

A data analyst is someone who collects data, cleans the data, and then creates visual reports of the data and shares the results with the company. A data analyst needs to be able to find trends and patterns within the data, which in turn helps to support the organisation's strategy and business decisions.

A data analyst works with raw unconstructed data, and therefore needs to have the relevant skills to be able to clean the data to make it ready for analysing. Once the data is cleaned, different analytical and statistical tools can be used to examine the data. Data analysts then need to be able to collaborate with development and management teams to make sure that the business strategy is aligned with any consumer trends or insights found within the data.

There are four different types of data analysis:

  • Descriptive analysis addresses basic questions of what, where and when. This would include a monthly report of KPIs and any other metrics important to the company. It also would look at answering specific questions for example, ‘Who is our main demographic for this campaign? A report can look into age, gender location etc.
  • Diagnostic Analysis looks into the descriptive analysis results and the outcomes. For example, if one day saw a spike in engagement or website visits then diagnostic analysis would look into the reason for this, to try and replicate again for positive results.
  • Predictive Analysis is identifying trends and gaining insights into what works for a target audience. This involves using machine learning and tools to create a predictive model to forecast what might happen.
  • Prescriptive Analysis helps to guide the next action, and what might be the best solution or outcome if certain actions are taken. It takes all the above analysis and asks, ‘what should happen if’.

What responsibilities does a data analyst have?

  • Working alongside teams within the business to establish business needs.
  • Use tools to extract unstructured data and be able to clean and restructure data into a readable format.
  • Create visualisation of data, conduct deep-dive analysis, and share insights & recommendations.
  • Produce program dashboards and weekly analysis/information updates.
  • Preparing analysis reports for stakeholders to understand the data analysis, helping them to make informed business decisions.

What skills do you need as a data analyst?

Hard Skills:

  • Data cleaning and preparation
  • Data analysis and exploration
  • Statistical knowledge
  • Data visualisations
  • Creating dashboards and reports
  • Programming skills
  • Machine learning skills

Soft Skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Self-starter

How much do data analysts earn?

  • Entry-level salary starts at around £28,000
  • Mid-level salary starts at around £45,000
  • Senior-level salary starts at around £70,000

What qualifications do you need to be a data analyst?

A degree is not required to be a data analyst, but I can help in the interview stages. Employers may like to see a degree within a similar field such as computer science, mathematics, or economics.

If you do not have a degree in these fields but still want to become a data analyst, you will need to look into the relevant certifications. Different software companies offer certifications for using their programmes, for example, Microsoft has a number of different modules and learning paths that will help you get the skills and knowledge needed to build your career as a successful Data Analyst.

Click here to view current data analyst jobs