Does your job leave you feeling lifeless as you make the commute home each day? Are you ready for a career change that could boost your income and use your skills to their full potential? Becoming a data analyst could be the high-powered change that takes your career to new heights.
Businesses in every industry are collecting more data than ever before, which puts data analysts in high demand—and they’re well compensated for their skills. In fact, data analysts have the potential to earn anywhere from $77,500 to $118,750 according to Robert Half’s 2017 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals.* This represents a 3.8 percent increase from the previous year.
Numbers like these are certainly eye-catching. But if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in this field you’ll need to see more than just what you’ll find in a data analyst job description. Read on to dig a little deeper into the life of a data analyst.
5 things you won’t find in the data analyst job description
Data analysts spend their workdays digging into big data and making it useable for the company they work for. This includes tasks like analyzing data systems, automating information retrieval and preparing reports that show managers how this data could be applied to their business model.
A data analyst career certainly sounds appealing, but you want to make sure you don’t end up in another position you’re going to dread. We spoke to experts to take you beyond the data analyst job description. They revealed these five aspects of the job you’ll encounter in your daily work as a data analyst.
1. You’ll need top-notch communication skills
“Communication skills and strong comprehension of different business languages are actually way more important than you may think,” says Andy Chan, data analyst and founder of Prime-Opt.
A data analyst job description will likely focus on the technical skills you need to succeed, but don’t underestimate the impact good communication can have on your career track. Data is only useful if you can share it in a way that’s easy to understand and valuable to different users, such as marketing professionals or administrative managers, explains Chan.
2. Writing will be a regular part of your job
Another lesser-known skill that’s critical to a data analyst’s work is writing, according to Chan. Reporting on the results of the data and how it may be used to improve a company is a vital part of the job. Most of that reporting takes place in writing.
“It is essential for data analysts to understand the languages of different industries,” Chan says. Data analysts have to act as translators, communicating complex information into a language their colleagues can understand.
Strong writing skills will help a data analyst effectively convey their findings to the rest of their company.
3. Data analysis is a team sport
You may have a mental image of a data analyst working in solitude at a computer all day, but that’s a far cry from reality. In reality, data analysts need to collaborate with others on the data science team, such as data architects and database developers.
Data analysts are also expected to be team players across their entire organization. Data analysis is spreading beyond just data science teams and into other areas of business. Data collection and analysis technology is being used by everyone from sales and marketing teams to business and market analysts. As a data analyst, you can expect to work together with a variety of professionals at every level of your company.
4. You may need to defend your data
Companies use data analysts to discover the most effective, efficient and profitable ways for them to conduct their business. But management may not always like what your data analysis report tells them.
“The most valuable data-driven insights are those that do not confirm but rather challenge conventional wisdom,” says Jacob Ayres-Thomson, Head of Data Sciences for JRP Group and founder of Alchematics.
You may receive pushback from professionals in other departments who feel their expertise is being threatened by your reports. Data analysts must be prepared to defend their reports and alleviate their colleagues’ fears so they can use their data to bring value to the company.
5. You’ll be able to stretch your creativity
Working with qualitative data and numbers all day doesn’t sound like it leaves much room for creativity. But the truth it that data analysts actually have plenty of opportunities to stretch their imagination.
“I find the most valuable skill is to find creative, out-of-the box ways that mining data can unlock the very business model of the firm,” Ayres-Thomson says.
The most helpful data isn’t necessarily what you’d expect it to be, he adds. Successful data analysts use creative thinking to find valuable data where no one else thought to look, including data “the firm doesn’t even consider relevant to its business.”
A dream career in data
Now that you know what’s really behind the data analyst job description, you might be thinking that digging into data sounds like the perfect career for you. Learn how our Data Analytics Program can help prepare you for the data career of your dreams.
*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.