Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered the world's dynamics. Education sector has also evolved to meet the new requirements where working from home and learning new skills have become imperative for job sustenance. Keeping up with the latest technological advancements becomes an important requirement in such situations. Likewise, a career in Data Analytics is one of the most sought after professions in trend. Its demand has become increasingly important during the internet age and a lot of companies are searching for analytics professionals to make investment decisions, assess risks or decide on capital allocations.
Data is the backbone of the digital economy. And it’s no surprise that the demand for data analysts is at an all-time high considering the sheer volume of data that is generated daily. The global data analytics market is expected to grow at the rate of 25% annually between 2021 and 2030.
If you enjoy working with data and solving problems, a career in data analytics could be a natural fit for you. But what exactly does a data analyst do? In simple terms, data analysts gather, sort through, and study data to help guide business decisions. This means that the role of a data analyst is instrumental to almost every business out there. For instance, in the banking sector, data analysts help in improving customer experience while in the healthcare sector they can help improve patient care by using predictive modelling to identify potential health risks.
To become a data analyst, you need to build upon certain skills so that you can enter and grow in the field. Here’s what a career progression for a data analyst can potentially look like:
- Get foundational education
- Build technical skills
- Develop your portfolio
- Apply for jobs
- Continue building on your experience
- Keep advancing your knowledge
This list should tell you that the field of data analytics is ever-evolving. You should never stop learning and improving your skills. Now, let’s take a look at each of these steps in detail so that you can begin preparing for your career as a data analyst.
Most entry-level jobs in data analytics require a bachelor’s degree. While you can have a degree in any field, there is a preference for those who come from IT, Computer Science, or Statistics. But if you don’t have an education in either of these fields, you can enrol yourself in a comprehensive training program, whether online or offline, that provides you with a fundamental education in subjects like mathematics and statistics to start building your skills on.
Now while the core field of your education doesn’t matter as much, your technical skills take precedence when it comes to a career in data analytics. Some of the core skills required for most data analytics jobs include statistics, Python (programming language), SQL, data extraction and analysis, and data cleaning and preparation, among others.
There are a variety of courses available online and offline for learning these skills and a great way to know which one to pick up first is to look at the requirements in entry-level jobs to understand the most sought-after skills that top employers are looking for. Learn those first and then build upon them.
While job listings will only list out the technical skills, they’re not the only thing that impacts your hiring. In addition to those, your soft skills such as attention to detail, communication, teamwork, problem-solving skills, domain knowledge, to mention a few, also play a huge role in helping you land that first gig or job. So make sure you pay enough attention to building these as well in addition to your technical skills.
Practice and develop your portfolio
One of the biggest conundrums of the job market is that it’s difficult to get work without industry relevant experience. The best way to build this experience is by working on real projects by yourself and then creating your portfolio with them.
You can do this by enrolling in programs and courses that give you hands-on experience through real-time industry projects, case studies, or practical assignments that use real data sets. Alternatively, you can find publicly available datasets to practice your skills on.
Once you have created a few projects, you can post them on a website like GitHub to not only showcase your portfolio but also network with other data analysts. Make sure you practice presenting your findings and analysis as well because this will be imperative in helping you land a job.
Apply for jobs
Once you have a few projects under your belt, it’s time to apply for jobs or freelance gigs in the field of data analysis. Polish up your resume and either enlist the help of your education centre or college to land jobs or look for them on websites such as LinkedIn, Upwork, Freelancer, etc.
You ideally want to apply to jobs where you have a 70-90% skill match but don’t hesitate from trying your luck if there’s a lower percentage match. Most entry-level jobs will require you to learn the ropes on the field itself, hence you should go in with that mindset.
Continue building your experience and advancing your education
If you have a full-time job, you can also take up freelance projects on the side, which involve different skills than from your current job. This will help you expand the scope of your experience as well as stay up-to-date with the market.
Make sure you also prioritize learning at your jobs. While doing the work, it is important to keep updating your education and skills because the technology space continues to evolve and if you don’t catch up with the trends sooner, you will become outdated.
If you’re looking to switch over to a career in data analytics from another profession, your progression will be pretty similar. You will need to build the required technical skills and understand how to navigate your way through the industry. Every sector, including banking, healthcare, IT and software, retail, insurance, and education, requires data analysts in the current economic environment, and building your skills in this field can ensure you have a long and rewarding career.
The article has been written by Gaurv Bhatia, Chief Executive Officer, RISE