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Data Analyst

By: Margaret Rouse
| Last updated: November 18, 2022

What Does Data Analyst Mean?

A data analyst is a professional who retrieves, organizes and analyzes information from various sources to help an organization achieve business goals.

Data analysts use logic, statistical techniques and computer programming to turn numbers into information that an organization can use to improve workflow and business processes. An important goal of analysis is to distinguish between what data is important and what data should be given less weight. In many organizations, data analysts are also responsible for data quality and preparing reports for internal and external stakeholders.

Data analysts use existing tools and mathematical algorithms to solve data-related problems, as opposed to data scientists, who are often charged with inventing new ones. The average salary for a data analyst in the United States is around $72,000 per year.

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Techopedia Explains Data Analyst

A senior data analyst may be charged with supervising and overseeing an organization's data strategy and monitoring infrastructure activities for accurate data collection, processing, modeling and analysis. This includes:

  • Analyzing data sources to identify which ones are most likely to provide actionable recommendations.
  • Assessing the quality of source data.
  • Developing policies for gathering, storing, accessing and analyzing specific types of data.
  • Cleaning data and preparing it for analysis.
  • Collecting metrics for trending data.
  • Using data visualization tools such as Microsoft Exel and Power BI, Tableau, and Zoho Analytics.
  • Setting up executive dashboards so all stakeholders view the same data in the same way.
  • Interacting with statistical programming languages when necessary.
  • Running reports.
  • Explaining reports.

Job requirements

While some entry-level analyst positions require only a bachelor’s degree, many organizations favor candidates who hold a master’s degree in business analytics or a related area.

Most job postings for data analysts require candidates to pay close attention to detail, have a strong background in Excel and structured query language (SQL) and possess the skills required to provide actionable recommendations based on data analysis and domain knowledge.

Soft skills

People skills are also an important consideration. Important soft skills for data analysts include the ability to write clearly and simply, use logic and critical thinking to solve problems and collaborate with others.

Career paths

Data analysts often work in specialized industry roles. Depending on the vertical industry and size of an organization, the career path for a data analyst might include the following job titles:

  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Data Architect
  • Database Specialist
  • Data Custodian
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Lake Manager
  • Database Manager
  • Data Modeler
  • Data Security Officer
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Warehouse Specialist
  • Data Security Analyst
  • Data Wrangler
  • Information Dissemination Manager
  • Research Analyst
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