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How did you get your start doing data analyst work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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Nadine in Dallas, Texas

76 months ago

A computer science degree is usually a start, though not required in some cases.
I was a systems admininstrator and just had a knack for data, data analysis and making sense of the information buried in raw data. Studied and recieved my certs in SQL, then MCDBA- SQL 7.0, started a job as a SQL DBA, Worked as a SQL Server developer in another company..voila...
check the domain "indigomark.com" for information on how to become a Data Analyst.

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Tina in Boston,MA in Bellingham, Massachusetts

73 months ago

Hi Nadine,
I have a similar background as yours. 6+ years of experience as a sql DBA, Masters degree in Computer Science from very reputed university, MCDBA certification. Lately I have been thinking of getting into Data Analysis. After reading forums and doing some research, it is seeming as if I am stepping down. I know it is very subjective to individual but still curious to know how you feel about your move and if u r happy with the salary part?
thanks
Tina

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working towards a new position soon in Caguas, Puerto Rico

64 months ago

i'm currently in a run-off for my line of business for a very large and reputable insurance company. I am being presented with a new opportunity soon within the same company to begin a career in Data Analysis and reporting. I have been told i am excellent in making reports, charts, presentation and have the ability to hear the raw data talk to me. I do not have the scholastics credentials for it but I understand my abilities and capabilities and after reading some comments here I believe we (I) can do any task we are given. I am glad i am doing research on jobs of this kind. Thanks...

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SUNITA in Bombay, India

59 months ago

THESE COMMENTS ARE REALLY NEEDFUL

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Sugar in Chattanooga, Tennessee

58 months ago

William Moffett in Seminole, Florida said: Well I stopped pursuing my goal of becoming a data analyst. The emphasis on database skills is, from my limited experience, very much present and in my opinion laughable. That dynamic is the equivalent of having lab technicians write research papers or having nurses perform surgery. I could go on about how this dynamic allowed the space shuttle challenger to blow up, got us into war with Iraq, and will eventually sink our economy as our competitors continue to make better decisions than us. But I play poker for a living now, and since there are always games what do I care?

How do you analyze data that if you cannot retrieve it from a database? SQL skills are a MUST.

I am a data analyst in IT. Data analysis isn't just about interpreting data. Data analysts create data models (ER, logical, and physical). They interpret business requirements and design databases. They track data from system to system. They look for patterns in data. They query databases. The job is much, much more than even what I've listed.

Some of you are mistaking business analyst for data analyst. Perhaps those seeking a career in data analysis should research the job a little better.

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Sam in Pasadena, California

54 months ago

My current job title is "Data Analyst." However, I'm beginning to wonder if this is a misnomer.

From reading this forum, it seems that SQL skills are absolutely a must have. I know how to use Access, but raw SQL code? No idea.

What I do is analyze data (from the source and/or from the database) then based on my findings, write specifications that a programmer uses to write code that updates the database. I am NOT the programmer; somebody else reads my specs and writes the code.

I'm thinking that I what I do is more like technical writing than data analysis.

I don't have a science degree and I'm not sure if I should get one, or just focus on learning things like SQL.

Any data analysts or other people "in the know," your opinion will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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Angela in Chattanooga, Tennessee

54 months ago

Sam,

It appears that the job duties of data analyst differ from company to company. I am currently working as a data analyst in IT and I would suggest that you learn SQL code. Additionally, I am finding that I am expected more and more to pull data attributes from XML messages and create data examples with sample data.

A question for other "data analysts:" Are you modeling data? I guess it is hard for me to wrap my head around being a data analyst and not knowing SQL or how to data model. I guess this is a difference of working in IT and working in business departments. Much of what people are describing here is BUSINESS ANALYSIS at my company which is a similar job but less techie.

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Hah in West Milford, New Jersey

54 months ago

"Well I stopped pursuing my goal of becoming a data analyst. The emphasis on database skills is, from my limited experience, very much present and in my opinion laughable. That dynamic is the equivalent of having lab technicians write research papers or having nurses perform surgery. I could go on about how this dynamic allowed the space shuttle challenger to blow up, got us into war with Iraq, and will eventually sink our economy as our competitors continue to make better decisions than us. But I play poker for a living now, and since there are always games what do I care?"

Yep, you sound like a total winner to me. Totally an opinion I should care about, totally.

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Sugar in Chattanooga, Tennessee

54 months ago

William Moffett in Seminole, Florida said: Well "Hah" I set my own hours, make good money, and still get to discuss applied math with other poker players. That's winning to me. I can't do anything about our country's failing businesses but thankfully we have people like yourself taking care of that for us, thankfully. So you go out there and switch the data back from rows to columns and back again and see if you can make your boss smile.

It is nice that you enjoy your job. So do I.

Remember, without reliable rows and columns (i.e. DATA), statistics don't mean squat.

Are you interested in warehousing? The world is not a star. :)

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Raj Jampala in Coventry, United Kingdom

53 months ago

Toby Berriman in Worksop, United Kingdom said: I started working at a multinational company in a call centre after dropping out of my Computer Science degree due to financial constraints. I built a reputation there as someone who could build macros, spreadsheets, and reports and then after doing that for a couple of years I applied for an analyst position open within the company. The experience I had built over the previous two years helped me get the position, and since then I have been taking every opportunity for training (Oracle, SQL Server, Business Objects) that presents itself.

Something that I've seen time and time again while I've worked here is that having a degree in something doesn't mean you make a suitable employee, however having a proven track record and experience really do help.

Hi, i was going through your comments of data analyst. I am not a data analyst and have no knowledge about it. I am in UK working as a recruiter. The reason for my contact is there is a vacancy for data manager, and i was wondering if you could refer anybody who had been working as a data analyst which would be of great help.

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maria in Ashton-under-lyne, United Kingdom

53 months ago

I am a data analyst in market research industry. I never touched SQL, I mainly use SPSS and several other statistical software packages. I have a social statistics education background, it does help when analyzing data and interpreting results. I am the only data analyst in the company,so it's great to hear from other data analysts out there.

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jcaynes in Phoenix, Arizona

52 months ago

I found the positive comments here very interesting. Thank you for sharing your information.

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skrj in Greer, South Carolina

50 months ago

William Moffett in Orlando, Florida said: I have a degree in Statistics and have only been able to get one temporary job as an analyst on a project. It is really amazing to me that people from other backgrounds, particularly computer science, are able to get positions that require drawing conclusions from data. If you have not studied statistics from a mathematical standpoint, you have no clue what you are doing. But then again you have to have studied statistics to even know why that is true. There is a large and clear divide between presenting data in charts and graphs and actully making sense out of data- a divide that seems to go completely unrecognized by people making the critical decisions at large companies. In college we actually went over examples of how people with not training make huge errors when they attempt data analysis. Then I get into the "real world" and I see database programmers doing those same exact things. Ironically I think that I will have to become a database administrator in order to become and analyst lol.

That is because (in my experience) the Data Analyst is not the person actually drawing conclusions, or making business decisions based on the information. The Data Analyst in many orgs is simply updating and manipulating the data, the results are then presented to someone in a higher level who then draws the conclusions, inteprets and presents to yet a higher level in the org. It likely depends on where you work and how they determine the extent of responsibility for the Data Analyst.

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Jason Fujisawa in Fremont, California

50 months ago

In my opinion, the roles and expectations of a "Data Analyst" really depend on the company, the industry it is in, and the general scope of the role. I theoretically had a data analyst position and I had very basic knowledge of SQL, intermediate skills in Excel. I received a BA in Sociology of all things and literally fell into the market research industry. After a few years, I just developed a reputation for being quick, accurate and "number literate." I continued my education and received an MBA which I believe helped me round out my professional/educational background. Ie: understanding data from multiple perspectives and "analyzing" its meaning.

As others have mentioned above, pulling data and dumping it into pivot tables are one thing. It is a completely different story if you are to actually draw conclusions from the data you pull. By definition, I believe a Data Analyst should be able to 1) pull appropriate data accordingly, 2) synthesize and make sense of the data, and 3) present and/or make recommendations based on your findings. BUT, like I said before, it really depends on the needs and expectations of the manager and what the company needs the Data Analyst to be.

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William Moffett in Greenville, South Carolina

50 months ago

Jason, by your definition of the job, it is extremely unlikely that you possess the skills to be a data analyst even though you are employed as one. The second part of your definition is the subject of mathematical statistics, an entire field of study in and of itself. Unless you taught yourself this subject you are giving your employers unsound advice. skjr said it right above- what they said is the state of things. In order to be competitive globally, people who can do real data analysis need to have a greater influence over the decision making process.

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skrj in Greer, South Carolina

50 months ago

William Moffett in Greenville, South Carolina said: Jason, by your definition of the job, it is extremely unlikely that you possess the skills to be a data analyst even though you are employed as one. The second part of your definition is the subject of mathematical statistics, an entire field of study in and of itself. Unless you taught yourself this subject you are giving your employers unsound advice. skjr said it right above- what they said is the state of things. In order to be competitive globally, people who can do real data analysis need to have a greater influence over the decision making process.

I also believe that it is a difficult role to walk into. Unless you have 3-5 years DA in a particular industry/market, it is difficult to take your DA skills into a new industry. Many orgs don't train, they expect you to hit-the-ground-running, regardless of your actual industry experience. To sum it up - if your current employer says you are a Data Analyst, then you are, but don't rely on the title alone to give you skills that are universal

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TT in Cleveland, Ohio

48 months ago

I am new to US and I have a Bachelors degree in statistics 20 years ago and I took some computer science courses before 2 years. I like very much dealing with numbers though I forgot my statistics theory. I want to go to school here and I want to be a data analyst but I don't know what to study. Can any one advice me please?

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skrj59 in Greer, South Carolina

48 months ago

Hi

Check the job descriptions for data analyst in your area, or field of interest. I would then base the education on what you may be lacking in, i.e. finance, audit, sql skills etc. Most data analysts now also need to be able to create ad hoc reports and manipulate data from databases using sql and/or visual basic.

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Curious2Know in Hayward, California

47 months ago

Hi,
I recently applied for a data analyst position and got the job through a recruiting agency. I have a Masters but no work experience. They asked me how much an hour I want to make, and I said $25/hour. Now that I got the job, I'm wondering- Was that too much or too little to ask for? I'm not sure how much I should be charing since this is "entry level". Any advice/input on hourly compensation would be great!

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Inmotion in New Braunfels, Texas

47 months ago

Congratulations on the job, you should be happy to making 25/hr with no experience in this wrecked economy. According to payscale.com, the typical salary for an entry level data analyst is 34,000-51,000, which comes out to 16-24/hr. Way to go.

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Nate in Seattle, Washington

44 months ago

@ the OP: From my own experience, I don't think the degree matters as much as having coursework and/or experience in things data analysts do. However, HR can and will occasionally get confused in their pigeon-holing process (especially if it is automated) if they are looking for someone with a computer-science degree with skills in programs ABC and X number of years experience doing one specific set of tasks particular to that organization.

But going along with my original point, I've found that raw statistical skills and an understanding of database software AND LOGIC were the bare necessities of being able to start a successful career as a "data analyst," with my BA & MA in sociology.

After that, I landed a part-time job at a research call-center and continually applied upward in the organization for what we here are calling a data analyst position they welcomed me with open arms. During that time, I tried to use any office resources available to me, such as taking classes in the software that the jobs needed. After a year or so, I landed a position doing more data management than analysis.

Of course, I'm on the market in Seattle, so we'll see what happens.

Good Luck OP.

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Karolina in Karlsruhe, Germany

43 months ago

Hi All,

I come across a nice article on this Data Analysis website: www.thedataanalysis.com/data-analysis.html

on How to become a Data Analyst.

From my knowledge, SQl is very important to become a data analyst.

Sorry for my english.

Karolina

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Steve in Dallas, Texas

43 months ago

@Karolina: This article How to become a Data Analyst on: www.thedataanalysis.com/data-analysis.html

is good for those you are beginners and will definitely help them.
Thanks for sharing with the community.

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Kevin in Woodstock, Illinois

43 months ago

Karolina in Karlsruhe, Germany said: Hi All,

I come across a nice article on this Data Analysis website: www.thedataanalysis.com/data-analysis.html

on How to become a Data Analyst.

From my knowledge, SQl is very important to become a data analyst.

Sorry for my english.

Karolina

Thanks that helped alot !!

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ankita in Asia/Pacific Region

42 months ago

The comments were useful in guiding for the career but not to the very extent of satisfaction

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anming in Tacoma, Washington

42 months ago

William Moffett in Seminole, Florida said: Well I stopped pursuing my goal of becoming a data analyst. The emphasis on database skills is, from my limited experience, very much present and in my opinion laughable. That dynamic is the equivalent of having lab technicians write research papers or having nurses perform surgery. I could go on about how this dynamic allowed the space shuttle challenger to blow up, got us into war with Iraq, and will eventually sink our economy as our competitors continue to make better decisions than us. But I play poker for a living now, and since there are always games what do I care?

Nice. Well good for you. My degree is in statistics as well, and my passion is for data analysis, not SQL...and I haven't been able to get into the industry at all. I'm pretty good at rummy; I wonder if there's any money in that:)

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W5H Group Inc. in Toronto, Ontario

40 months ago

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FREEBA in Ajax, Ontario

39 months ago

I've been in the business for 20 years and it's become obvious as of late that some BA's are not getting paid the rates they deserve simply because they are not asking. If you are a contract BA with 5 years experience and getting anything less than 90/hour at the bank in the GTA (Toronto) you're a sucker. If you get less than 100/hr at the provincial government for BA role level 3 you're also a sucker. 90/hr is dirt cheap by bank standards because they don't have to pay for benefits/pension/comp/severance on top of salary, and they can't be sued even if the abused the hell out of you. Salaries for 5 years experience BA are in 95K-105K range plus bonus which can add up to over 120K. Banks have a knack for the finding suckers though.
Contractors don't have pensions/benefits and such so they have to make up for it with the seemingly high rates, but also take into consideration that as a contractor you can sit out months before you find the right opportunity, and that has to be factored into the rates. Needless to say that contractors are the ultimate scapegoat a manager can find to blame when things go wrong. So that's an added bonus(!).
It's comical sometimes that some BA's are asking for 40-50/hr. These are the rates of the early 1990's when I started out. During the dotcom bubble rates went up but they were artificially brought down after the bubble burst by the banks in search of laid off contractors willing to take any jobs, so they were paying 60/hr, and that was 11 years ago. Yes we're in 2011 already.
In conclusion folks it's time for rates to start going higher already. Since 2000, gas prices went up 60%, milk 50%, heating oil 50%. House prices 100%. Bank profits skyrocketed but contractors are still getting less. If you don't ask for higher rates you're only have yourself to blame when you're 60 and cant retire because you have no pension and no decent cash to live on. Ta-ta!!

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Chandni in Folsom, California

39 months ago

Hi,

I have a Analyst job interview with Google. Any tips and advice on what questions I should prepare for?

Thank you
C

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Claudia Gold in Boston, Massachusetts

36 months ago

William Moffett in Seminole, Florida said: Well I stopped pursuing my goal of becoming a data analyst. The emphasis on database skills is, from my limited experience, very much present and in my opinion laughable. That dynamic is the equivalent of having lab technicians write research papers or having nurses perform surgery. I could go on about how this dynamic allowed the space shuttle challenger to blow up, got us into war with Iraq, and will eventually sink our economy as our competitors continue to make better decisions than us. But I play poker for a living now, and since there are always games what do I care?

As important as the statistics side is, you do also need to be able to manage large sets of data to get them to the point where you can analyze them. (I'm a data analyst/software developer with a B.S. from MIT in quantitative political science, so I have both skills equally. That has helped me a lot.)

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pavan29275@gmail.com in Delhi, India

33 months ago

Hello Everyone,

i'm pavan,doing internship as a data analyst in one of the big 4 auditing companies.
Since one month what i have observed is ,we have standard scripts and according to the given data we make necessary changes in script like file names,field names, number of files, close out,statistical exclusions etc.Being from computer science background, i have doubt how data analytics will help me in my career...i want to know how good i can become in terms of professional growth,position in a company, last but not least salary.

does analytics help me ,if in future i want pursue a career in programming?
if analytics is a good career how one can become pro,master in this field ?what are major data analytics tools(atleast 10) that today competitive world uses?

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Will in Chicago, Illinois

33 months ago

Please get training or you're going to make yours and lives around you difficult. "Analytics" is a slippery art, not some process where you plug in numbers and read a computer printout. It's not something that you just pick up in your spare time unless you are a genius or something. I am so tired of people not having an appreciation for, as you call it, "Analytics". We are behind the curve globally.

It's been shown that lack of appreciation for statistical analysis blew up the Challenger space shuttle despite all of the engineers and brilliant people involved in that project. Yet every dummy computer science nerd thinks they can just gloss over it. You want to do analytics? Go back to school and get a MATH degree. You database analysts get together with CEO's and their spreadsheets and a comedy of erroneous conclusions ensues every time.

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nibo in San Francisco, California

33 months ago

It's not easy to get a data analyst offer. It requires both good knowledge and strong skills. few people are very strong in both sides. for knowledge, you need to know statistics, mathematics, marketing, business, forecasting...and whatever related to your business, for skills, you need to have strong SQL, database,SPSS, and even SAS. it's not easy to be STRONG in either SQL or SAS.
so i think it's not a good fit for beginning professionals, unless you are very lucky.
here are more information about career and opportunities of the data analyst:
jobswebs.com/science-jobs/data-analyst.html

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pavan29275@gmail.com in Delhi, India

33 months ago

thanq Will for replying
im sry for, if i am wrong in nething that i wrote previously.Since i am still an undergraduate student i dont have ne idea on analytics ,so i had all those doubts in my mind.
No doubt, analytics is a very good area one can develop and cherish his career.

i wrote like that because of the work and the 3 dayz training they gave me in Ernst & Young
was very limited and the scope of work is also very much less,which made me to think that analytics is only this much.

sry and thanq once again for ur reply

so how can i get started from beginning of analytics to master in analytics?
and i dint receive answer for
does analytics help me ,if in future i want pursue a career in programming?

Thank You

Will in Chicago, Illinois said: Please get training or you're going to make yours and lives around you difficult. "Analytics" is a slippery art, not some process where you plug in numbers and read a computer printout. It's not something that you just pick up in your spare time unless you are a genius or something. I am so tired of people not having an appreciation for, as you call it, "Analytics". We are behind the curve globally.

It's been shown that lack of appreciation for statistical analysis blew up the Challenger space shuttle despite all of the engineers and brilliant people involved in that project. Yet every dummy computer science nerd thinks they can just gloss over it. You want to do analytics? Go back to school and get a MATH degree. You database analysts get together with CEO's and their spreadsheets and a comedy of erroneous conclusions ensues every time.

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pavan29275@gmail.com in Delhi, India

33 months ago

Hello,
What are the different data analyst fields like data analyst in accounting firm,data analyst in IT firm etc?
Their scope of work in different fields will be different so how could one differentiate and choose among these?

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Sheila in Greer, South Carolina

33 months ago

Pavan and others inquiring about jobs in data analystics:

Accounting and IT analyst jobs will require a strong background in accounting, likely requiring at least a bachelor degree (in the US) and possibly CPA or other accounting designations/certifications. An MBA is often required or preferred.

Additionally, you will need 2+ years hands-on work experience for most Junior level analyst positions with larger corporations.

My best suggestion to you is to look at the job postings for analysts in the companies, or fields that you are interested in. Job responsibility descriptions are going to show you what the employer is looking for in education, skills and knowledge.

If you are serious about your career in this field, you will need to do whatever it is you need to do to attain the education, skills and experience that employers will want.

Don't expect to start at the top. The money comes with the experience and that just takes time, plain and simple. Seriously study the job requirements in jobs posted to guide your learning and career path.

Best wishes to you,

Sheila

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Sheila in Greer, South Carolina

33 months ago

anming in Tacoma, Washington said: Nice. Well good for you. My degree is in statistics as well, and my passion is for data analysis, not SQL...and I haven't been able to get into the industry at all. I'm pretty good at rummy; I wonder if there's any money in that:)

I think only if your opponents suck at rummy:)

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Heather in Komae, Japan

32 months ago

Hello,
Well, I am looking for a data analyst for a few months, part-time work to analyze our data.
Must have a background in mathematical statistics, SQL skills would not be required, but are a plus. Definitely must have Excel skills. You will be working with multi currencies.

You will be pulling, identifying and analyzing the data needed.
Identifying and making sense of the data
Make recommendations based on the findings
Help create systems to regularly procure this data

Please let me know: usagiATusagis-houseDOTnet
Thank you!

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Rachel in Austin, Texas

32 months ago

I am so interested in becoming a Analyst. I have a BS in math and minor in CS. Very very strong excel skills but I really don't have any SQL skills. What type of classes do I need to take? Is it learning database and Microsoft access? If any one could tell me what would be most helpful as far as learning to get a job that would be awesome.

You can email me at misswfish(AT)yahoo(DOT)com and put the subject as "Analyst are awesome" :P

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parisbynight in London, United Kingdom

31 months ago

a

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parisbynight in London, United Kingdom

31 months ago

Hi,

I recently graduated with a Bsc Mathematics and Statistics from one of the University of London. I obtained a 2.2(missed the 2.1 by 1 point) but since I had achieved very high grades in my final year (above 75% in all stats modules) , I was provided with a very good reference letter from the Director of Studies of my course.For two months(straight after my last exam)I was applying for jobs non stop (looking for data analyst jobs) and finally got lucky to obatin a job in a market research company as a data analyst(what I thought initially).I grabbed the opportunity as I knew how hard it would be to find a job with a 2.2 degree.
Now, the first thing that I didnt like was that my contract stated that I was 'Technical Executive'...So there started my confusion regarding my job status/position.

My job has two different part:

-SCRIPTING/PROGRAMMINGI - I script surveys on a very complicated software called Nebu. It is a very complex task as I had no previous experience in it. It is very challenging too as it requires a lot of logical thinking ability in order to script the routing correctly and so unable the data to be collected in the right manner once the surveys are sent to be filled online.

-DATA - Once the survey field work is finished I collect the data with using ASKIA and I create a table (TOpline) where data are classified by Social Grade and other different sections depending on the surveys. I analyse the issues with missing data or wrong data collection.

I have also recently started using SPSS and SQL for bugger project.

MY confusion? As a data analyst, is this what I am suppose to do? or I am just doing a technical job. I was expecting to do more Stats analysing such as anova,regression...

I started 2 months ago so maybe its too early stage and I expect more?

Can you please advice me if this position can take me forward in a Data/Statistical Analyst career. Is this opportunity worth it?

Thank you

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Andytheanalyst in Beaconsfield, United Kingdom

27 months ago

William Moffett in Orlando, Florida said: I have a degree in Statistics and have only been able to get one temporary job as an analyst on a project. It is really amazing to me that people from other backgrounds, particularly computer science, are able to get positions that require drawing conclusions from data. If you have not studied statistics from a mathematical standpoint, you have no clue what you are doing. But then again you have to have studied statistics to even know why that is true. There is a large and clear divide between presenting data in charts and graphs and actully making sense out of data- a divide that seems to go completely unrecognized by people making the critical decisions at large companies. In college we actually went over examples of how people with not training make huge errors when they attempt data analysis. Then I get into the "real world" and I see database programmers doing those same exact things. Ironically I think that I will have to become a database administrator in order to become and analyst lol.

You are talking about your opinion, some of the best analyst I have met do not have a degree in stats or maths but later on go on to get Dip Stat just as a prove of knowledge. Thinking you know more because you have a degree is probably why you have not had any other job offers. Come to terms with the fact that you might not know as much as you think, experience will always be better than anything else understanding the methodology and techniques does not mean you have put them into practise and understand why they might not work!!

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jank in Montreal, Quebec

25 months ago

hi,

I have been chasing Data Analyst positions since I graduated from university in 2007 with a major in Computer Science and minor in Life Science. I recently completed a Business Analysis certificate. I have experience with SAS, SQL, Microsoft Access. I am currently a Database Programmer. During interviews my problem is I don't know what is consider experience with analyzing data. I don't know if that question is referring to advance statistics or basic statistics such as writing SQl queries to get a patient count for those that fit the required criteria or something like data extraction. I need someone to give me advice how I can get into Data Analyst positions from Database Programmer (create report, forms and write queries on MS Access,clean data using SAS and data extraction).

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jank in Montreal, Quebec

25 months ago

I just want to know how do people move into Data Analyst positions with no experience that's all.

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Sherry in Watertown, Massachusetts

23 months ago

skrj in Greer, South Carolina said: That is because (in my experience) the Data Analyst is not the person actually drawing conclusions, or making business decisions based on the information. The Data Analyst in many orgs is simply updating and manipulating the data, the results are then presented to someone in a higher level who then draws the conclusions, inteprets and presents to yet a higher level in the org. It likely depends on where you work and how they determine the extent of responsibility for the Data Analyst.

Agree. I am a Data Analyst at a public trading pharmacy and my job is to get the data business users (usually department heads or VP) requested including excel spread sheets and reports. Those business users then meet with all kinds of resources and make the decision based on their findings, experience, and/or expertise.

However, I heard some data analysts who would get raw data directly from IT (someone like me) and then conduct further analysis by using different statistical software, and then explain the analysis result to business.

I think it depends on what do you want to do. For dealing with raw data, technical (computer science/SQL) background will help. For the statistical analysis or more decision making support, business/domain knowledge and statistic/math training will be valuable. In either case, I think mathematics/algorithm is important and computer science major covers good amount of them. It's all about how you think and analyze a problem.

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allyha in Ireland

22 months ago

Hey,

This is a really good thread, I hope one of you can help me!

I'd really like to become a data analyst. I have a bachelors degree in Astrophysics and I intend on learning SQL and VBA on w3 schools as a start. If I have those skills, would my degree be ok in getting a job? Should I do a certificate or masters in something else? How important is knowledge of advanced programming and statistics?

Any info would be great! :)

Ally

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totallyhappycrop in Kingston, Ontario

20 months ago

This is a very useful thread. Like Ally I've been trying to get into the data analytics field from a biology background. I have a M.Sc. and am months away from getting a PhD, all in biology of course. I'm having a hard time convincing employers that I have what it takes even though I've got 8 years of analytic experience, SQL querying skills, data visualization skills. I've even built my own custom relational data base for one of my PhD projects.

Often what I hear is that I don't have enough work / industry experience. How do I approach this? Often they will also say I'm weak on coding (in Python, C++, Java etc). Will it be useful to remedy these?

Thanks!

Andy

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Opposites Attract in Austin, Texas

16 months ago

So, here is how I got into data analysis and I did it in about 18 months:

1. Be an Excel Guru (took me 3 years okay so I don't count this).
2. Teach yourself VB and use it on some projects at work (1 year).
3. Go to loads and loads of: R, python and data-based meet-ups. Take free online courses on statistics, machine learning, R-computing, computer programming and pick up a book on stats and quantitative methods. Learn R or Python (I only know R). Make sure you get SQL!
4. Start merging the skills and apply for entry-level analyst positions. On the interview, hold a conversation on data if you know machine learning lingo that is a plus, demonstrate you can actually do analysis and bring a mock up model (I use failed client models, those that never made the bid, but were made to show what I could do, which ironically is great for interviews). Target the positions with the languages you know.

If you do the above, you can even try some data science positions, but you have to be really prepared.

I'm actually in the reverse, having been in the field for a little, while, I'm starting to find programming more appealing....

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Kevin in Alexandria, Virginia

11 months ago

Necrobumping, but Opposites Attract has good advice here. Learning SQL, a scripting language (i.e., python, perl, R, ruby, etc etc), mastering universal and common business tools (like Excel and Access; reason being EVERYONE has access to them and something done with your tools can be framed relative to Excel or Access for explaining things); combining those three things allows you to really take hold of any data thrown at you. In terms of analyzing it, go to the theory -- all forms of statistics/econometrics/probability here. The more solid the background, the better. Depending on the industry, different approaches will be used. I see data analyst's as applied statisticians with excellent data munging skills, but I think everyone has a slightly different view.

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