Learn About Being a Data Analyst

Updated March 10, 2023

What does a data analyst do?

Data analysts organize and interpret large amounts of data for others to easily understand. Business professionals use this interpreted data to make business decisions. Data analysts also have the following responsibilities:

  • Complete statistical tests to gather data related to business procedures

  • Translate large amounts of data into easy-to-read reports

  • Identify important trends that can influence business decisions

  • Routinely monitor data for industry changes

  • Collaborate with team members to improve statistical testing procedures

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Typical Salary

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $75,406 per year 

  • Typical salaries range from $28,492 to $108,594 per year.

Data Analyst Requirements

You can become a data analyst by receiving the education and experience needed to succeed in this position. This is typically a competitive field, so successful job candidates will need to show significant credentials.


A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is often required for a data analyst role. Some employers may require a master’s degree in a relevant field, which includes engineering, computer science or mathematics. Data analysts should continue to stay informed on the latest computer programs and technological changes through continuing education.


Because employers expect data analysts to have strong quantitative skills, further training and experience in mathematics may be a requirement. Additional training may also be required depending on the industry, such as working for the government.


Certifications may be required in a data analyst role, depending on the industry and position. These types of certifications teach you industry-specific. Popular data analyst certifications include:

  • Cloudera: The Cloudera certification is useful for data analysts with experience in coding and Apache Hadoop. There are two different types of Cloudera certifications: the Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) and the Cloudera Certified Professional (CCP). To obtain each certification, you must successfully pass a performance-based exam with at least 70%. The exam includes 12 performance tests completed in 120 minutes. A renewal test is required every two years.

  • Hadoop: A Hadoop certification is a good option for most information technology professionals including data analysts. You can obtain a Hadoop certification through Cloudera, Hortonworks, MapR and IBM. Each organization requires the completion of an exam.  You do not have to renew a Hadoop Certification.

  • Hortonworks: Hortonworks is another certification for Hadoop professionals. To get an HDP Certified Administrator (HDPCA) certification, you must successfully pass an exam that includes hands-on Hortonworks tasks. The exam covers installation, configuration, troubleshooting, high availability and security.

  • MongoDB: The MongoDB Professional Certification is a good choice for data analysts tasked with building and maintaining MongoDB databases. The certification requires the completion of one online course and successful completion of either the MongoDB Certified Developer, Associate Level or the MongoDB Certified DBA, Associate Level exam.


Data analysts are an important resource when it comes to making business decisions. Business managers and executive decision-makers rely on data analysts to translate complicated data into meaningful results. Strong organizational skills are necessary to track and maintain large amounts of data. Communication is also key when translating results to team members who may not be technologically skilled.

Useful skills for a data analyst include:

  • Organization: Data analysts have access to large amounts of data. Strong organizational skills are needed to arrange data in a way that is easy to retrieve and understand.

  • Analytical: Analytical and logical thinking are crucial as you make interpretations from the data. Data analysts organize results for easier understanding, while also offering conclusive, insightful tips to improve business models.

  • Math: Advanced mathematical skills are useful when calculating and interpreting data results.

  • Interpersonal: Data analysts are often part of a large team. Additionally, analysts work directly with executive team members to offer tips and recommendations based on data results.

  • Problem-solving: Data is usually collected to learn more about a business system, customer base or to solve a business problem. Strong problem-solving skills are beneficial when identifying trends and interpreting data in an attempt to solve a problem.

Data analyst work environment

The typical workday for a data analyst will depend on the industry. They may work for small businesses, financial firms, technical-scientific companies, manufacturers or government. Data analysts spend much of their workday in an office setting. They may split their time between improving current testing procedures and organizing and interpreting data.

Data analysts work in a team environment, assisting other team members in improving and interpreting data. Some data analysts may work directly with team leaders and executive decision-makers to offer recommendations on sales, marketing efforts and technical changes.

How to become a data analyst

Most companies require an educational degree in a relevant field and industry experience to secure a data analyst position. You can become a data analyst with the following steps:

  1. Earn a college degree: Most data analyst jobs require a bachelor’s degree with relevant coursework. Relevant majors include engineering, computer science and statistics. Whichever program you choose, make sure it includes relevant coursework like mathematics, calculus, algebra and statistics.

  2. Attend a master’s program:  Although a master’s degree is not usually required, some employers may prefer one. Relevant master’s degrees include statistics, computer science and management. A master’s program also allows you to complete an internship.

  3. Continue education: Technical and data retrieval programs are constantly changing so continuing education is important in this industry. While there are no requirements regarding hours or certifications for continuing education, it is crucial to keep up with technology and software program changes.

  4. Apply for an entry-level position in your industry: After completing your education, you can develop important analytical skills with an entry-level position. Some college programs may require an internship.

  5. Demonstrate analytical skills: You can use your internship or entry-level position to strengthen and demonstrate your skills as an analyst. Learn new programs, work closely with your team members and use this position as a learning opportunity.

  6. Apply for a data analyst position: Once you have developed skills in problem-solving, statistics and analytics, you are ready to apply for a data analyst position. Use your cover letter and resume to demonstrate these skills.

There may be additional requirements depending on your industry. For example, a data analyst position with the U.S. government will require a background check and security clearance. A data analyst position with a marketing agency may require that you also have previous marketing experience.

Data analyst job description example

We are looking for an experienced data analyst to improve testing procedures and to assist team members in making sales decisions. The right candidate will have a strong technical background with advanced knowledge of current data analysis tools. This candidate will work closely with other analysts and our executive team. A bachelor’s degree in a related field is required and a master’s degree is preferred.

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Related careers

  • Business analyst

  • Financial analyst

  • Marketing specialist

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