A Candidate’s Guide to Working in Data Analytics
The amount of data being produced and consumed today has created a new and strong demand for skilled data professionals. Undoubtedly, one of the hottest career paths on the current job scene, Data Analytics jobs are available across a variety of industries from healthcare and marketing to finance and logistics. For candidates considering a career in Data Analytics here is our guide to helping you make an informed decision.
What is Data Analytics?
It is the process of analysing data via business intelligence in order to generate insights that will go on to inform important decisions within an organisation.
How to get started
To land an entry level position in Data Analytics is relatively simple, especially considering how in demand these types of jobs are. Most analytics roles require a bachelor’s degree in subjects including maths, engineering, finance, economics, statistics, computer science or information management. To move onto more advanced analytics roles you may be expected to undertake a master’s in something like data science or business analytics depending on your chosen area of interest. To get ahead in Data Analytics, practical experience is certainly key so if you are coming from university it would be worth pursuing an internship, of which there are many, due to demand.
For those already working, look for opportunities to apply analytics within your current role. The easiest way to do this is to identify sources of data and find out if it’s being collected. If it is then it is likely available to be used. Your challenge then is to start generating simple insights from the data different to those currently reflected in the business reports.
Data Analyst jobs can lead you down a number of paths, whether it’s in the direction of finance and business, or towards a more exclusively analytics career or data science.
It’s important to understand both the analytics landscape as well as the area of analytics which best suits your personality and skillset. A simple search using terms like ‘analyst’, ‘analytics’ or ‘data scientist’ will give you an idea of the type of Data Analytics jobs out there however be aware that not all jobs with the word ‘analyst’ in the title equate to a Data Analytics role. It is a good idea to read the job description thoroughly and understand the requirements of the position, such as the specific skills and tools you would be expected to utilise within the role.
There are three main areas of analytics professionalisms to slot your expertise under; business analytics, predictive analytics and of course Data Analytics. The role of Data Scientist is probably the only one to harness skills in all three categories, though the reality of one person possessing this super skillset is unlikely. Rather know that should you have skills in one or other of these areas you may well be suited to a data scientist role.
Most jobs with marketing in the title come under business analytics, as do financial analyst, product, excel and portfolio analyst roles. Those seeking a more statistics-based role or one focused on modelling, risk or fraud should pursue a predictive analytics career, while database, CRM, SQL or web analyst roles largely come under the arm of Data Analyst.
You’ll need to be proficient in at least one programming language. Python currently tops the popularity stakes as it’s relatively easy to learn and apply. SQL for navigating data sources such as large databases, CQL, R, HIVE, MATLAB, C++ and PHP are additional programming languages used for data management and manipulation.
Data visualisation is something that will greatly impress employers. Being able to visualise and convey insights related to your company’s goals and services is a highly valuable skill within Data Analytics. Excellent communication skills are imperative as it is up to you to interpret and then translate your findings in a way that the rest of the organisation can understand so that they can make the best and informed decisions.
Business savvy is often overlooked but it is incredibly valuable in combination with technical knowledge. Strong skills in mathematics and statistics are key to analysing data, as is use of Excel to organise your data.
The typical salary trajectory for a Data Analyst in the UK starts at around £25-30,000 depending on the industry and role. With 2 to 4 years or more experience and a bachelor’s you can expect that to increase to upwards of £55,000. With specialisations and more experience the earning potential only increases.
Things to consider
Tailor your CV to highlight not only the obvious skills and experience but also your prior achievements, ones you can talk about in a way that shows your potential employer how you can add value to their company.
Lastly, before you head into your interview think about these points to ensure you are taking on the right job for you:
- Role expectations – what it entails
- The type of projects you’d be working on
- Who you’ll be reporting to in the business – this typically influences the nature of your projects
- If you’re replacing someone, why did they leave
- Joining a new team – how is it structured and what is the plan for the team?