A career as a Data Analyst 
Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

Q: I am deciding which way to go with my career. Current trends tell me that a career as a data analyst could be a good fit. I am good with numbers but not sure what else is required. What kind of jobs are actually available in this area? Any information would be helpful. (BC, email).

A: You are right about that trend: data is described as the fuel of the fourth Industrial Revolution, but there is a lot to understand before embarking on a career in this field, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Information is critical in all businesses. Accurate data allows us to make predictions and to ease the decision-making process. Getting data right results in companies being able to offer the most appropriate products or services to their customers, thereby increasing the prospect of commercial success.

There is a lot of talk about machines taking over many jobs in the future, but this may not be the case in this area. Data is indeed available through technology, but we won’t go too far without people who are able to understand the data. Data literacy, especially digital, is described as being future proof.

Skills set

There are specific skills required. Let’s explore them.

You mention you are good with numbers. Good analytical and numerical skills are absolutely necessary in this field. But,  it is not enough to merely understand data: you also need to be able to translate for the rest of us, so that we can make informed business decisions.

In terms of what you might study, there are a few degrees to consider: Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics or Economics are relevant fields. If you already have a different degree, you may be able to work in the area if you show relevant skills and knowledge.

Potential employers will look at what analytical tools and programming languages you know. These will vary depending on the role.

In the area of soft or essential skills, there are a few things to highlight.

Firstly, attention to detail is critical. Therefore, data analysts must have great curiosity and pay real attention to what is in front of them. And they need to treat those numbers as a detective would use evidence. Above all, a logical and methodical mind is important.

A variety of sectors to choose from

The second part of your question relates to the types of roles available for data analysts. There is good news here as most sectors will need of this type of professional.

It’s hard to think of an industry that does not use data to make decisions today. For instance, sales, digital marketing, banking, insurance and business intelligence all have current openings for analysts.

The type of jobs you can do include collecting and reviewing data e.g. creating surveys and providing an interpretation of results. A big element also is quality: being able to understand which data is real and accurate and which is not is priceless in any business. Working with databases is important and knowledge of SQL and Oracle may be a requirement for a career as a data analyst.

It all comes down to the basic maxim ‘knowledge is power’, and, indeed, money for any company using that knowledge. If you are able to master the skills above and provide the right information, you won’t be out of work.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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