By Tzatzil LeMair
Give your career a competitive advantage.
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Arthur Conan Doyle (1891), British Mystery Writer, A Scandal in Bohemia
Data has always been an important consideration across a variety of industries, from crime investigations to medical research to privacy guarantees. As more data is collected, businesses need to know how to leverage the information, and that’s where a data analyst enters the story.
Whether you work in marketing, finance, government, the arts, or some other industry, acquiring data analytics skills will give your career a competitive advantage. The need for data analysts will continue into the foreseeable future as the use of smartphones, social media, tracking apps, emails, loyalty cards and search engines continues to grow year after year, generating enormous amounts of data.
Employers are looking for data analysts who can manage and analyze the information and extract critical findings that will help them understand customer behavior and identify their consumer’s needs. The best data analyst candidate will have command of the following skills:
1. Analytical Skills
Analytical skills are the ability to collect, gather, organize and view information in detail to identify correlations and patterns and to draw useful conclusions. This requires a comfort level working with numbers to understand their relationship, work with graphical information and interpret data patterns to reach relevant conclusions.
2. Computer Skills
Basic computer skills and programming knowledge are essential. Experienced data analysts are expected to know scripting and analytical languages such as Python, Matlab and R. However, those entering the field and looking to pursue a certificate in data analytics only need familiarity with Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems and Microsoft Office or an equivalent productivity suite.
3. Communication Skills
Equally crucial to analyzing the data and identifying key findings is effectively communicating the lessons learned. Data analysts must be excellent communicators to present results in a visually clear, universally understandable manner that tells a compelling story with actionable recommendations.
4. Business Skills
Basic business skills like project management, teamwork, leadership, organizational and problem-solving enable data analysts to operate in a dynamic organization. These skills make them valuable team members who can work across various departments and disciplines to deliver the right information to the decision-makers and other stakeholders.
5. Attention to Detail
Meticulousness is a highly-coveted skill across all industries, and it is a particular must-have in the field of data analytics. Thoroughness and accuracy are needed to distinguish valuable data and significant patterns from background noise. Closely identifying and interpreting essential data correlations and trends can make you a critical asset to any team or organization looking to optimize resources and targeting efforts. You can develop this invaluable skill by continuously checking your work for accuracy, consistency, relevance, and completion.
The future of data analytics is a bright one. Those who possess these skills or choose to invest in them can count on a long, prosperous career. The enormous amount of data that is being collected every moment holds invaluable information that, if properly analyzed, can help businesses make informed decisions that drive the company forward, improve efficiency, increase profits and achieve organizational goals.
If you are ready to dive into this field, check out our Data Analytics Certificate Program. Or, if you prefer to “dip your toe in the water” first, take a look at our short courses: Data Analytics for Business Professionals or Data Visualizations for Business Professionals.
Tzatzil LeMair s currently the Senior Director of Social Media at Real Chemistry and is a former account director of Sensis TX. A graduate of the Boston University Questrom School of Business, she is an experienced advertising executive and leader in cross-cultural, multi-channel marketing. cross-cultural, multi-channel marketing.
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