what is a data analyst?

As a data analyst, you spend most of the day organising data and helping various stakeholders draw conclusions from the information. Regardless of the industry you work in, your job is to collect and interpret data. For instance, in sales and marketing, you translate sales figures into tangible evidence that helps the company make better decisions.

A data analyst may examine historical data from an organisation like quarterly sales, monthly income or annual web traffic and identify trends or spot patterns. You apply your knowledge in descriptive and diagnostic analytics to explain certain occurrences or outcomes in a business. Aside from understanding the past, data analysts also assist organisations with forecasting. You can use descriptive data to detect tendencies and trends to base your predictions. Predicting the outcomes allows companies to take proactive actions to avoid adverse consequences.

job description of a data analyst

When a business wants to determine a course of action, they rely on data analysts to provide data-driven evidence to help them decide. Using prescriptive analytics keeps you ahead of industry trends. As a data analyst, you have to use complex algorithms, statistical methods and machine learning technology to organise and evaluate data. Sometimes, you need proficiency in data visualisation and database programming languages to aid in managing data sources and databases.

Would working as a data analyst suit your analytical skills and love for numbers? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a data analyst role.

Data analyst CV and interview advice:

data analyst jobs

average salary of a data analyst

According to National Careers, a data analyst starting their career earns £23,000 per year. With additional qualifications and years of experience, your earnings increase to £70,000 per year. Since the work is quite demanding, you have many opportunities to increase your take-home salary. For instance, you can work extra hours for overtime pay or bonuses. Depending on your specific duties, you may also be eligible for various allowances and benefits.

what factors affect your salary as a data analyst?

A career as a data analyst offers competitive salaries and generous benefits. However, the industry, educational background and experience are the driving factors that determine your take-home pay. For instance, if you have a degree, your earnings will be lower than that of a data analyst with a master's or PhD. A degree is the bare minimum requirement, and you need more qualifications to command a better compensation package. Specialisation in statistical modelling or information design also enhances your salary prospects.

Salaries also depend on the industry and your employer's resources. For instance, finance, healthcare, insurance and information technology rely heavily on data analysts to make decisions and pay more. Location is also a driving factor due to the high demand for data analysts in metropolitan areas compared to suburbs.

Male looking at a computer screen sitting at a desk
Male looking at a computer screen sitting at a desk

types of data analysts

Some types of data analysts include:

  • business intelligence analyst: your job is to identify patterns and interpret data gathered from the company systems. Aside from internal data, you also collect and evaluate external data from competitors and the market to identify patterns and potential issues that could affect the business.
  • logistics analyst: as a logistics analyst, you gather and organise data from supply chain processes. You use the information to create strategies to optimise the processes, lower expenses and enhance efficiency in production and distribution.
  • business systems analyst: you are responsible for evaluating and leveraging data to improve the functions of a company's information technology systems. You also find strategies to improve the systems.
  • marketing analyst: your job is to use data to help the sales and marketing team understand the market and customers. You analyse the organisation's target market information and develop the best marketing strategies.

working as a data analyst

Data analysts are number-driven and can use data to derive or explain technical ideas and concepts. Read on to identify some of the daily tasks and career progression of data analysts.


education and skills

A data analyst needs the following educational qualifications:

  • university degree: you need a degree or postgraduate qualification in statistics, economics or mathematics to become a data analyst. Other related subjects include psychology and operational research or fields with training sessions in statistics.
  • college courses: you can become a trainee data analyst if you complete a T-level digital business service diploma. You need 4 or 5 GCSEs, including maths and English, to join the programme.
  • apprenticeship: completing an apprenticeship in data analysis makes you a junior data analyst. The programme combines 30 hours of on-the-job training with studies for you to earn a data analysis higher apprenticeship.

skills and competencies

A data analyst requires the following transferable skills:

  • programming languages: as a data analyst, you will handle massive amounts of data and perform complex equations. Learning a statistical programming language improves your competitiveness. Python and R are popular statistical languages, but you can find others that suit your role. You also need database management programming skills to organise and store data in databases.
  • proficiency in using data visualisation tools: as a data analyst, it is vital to present your findings convincingly. Using charts and graphs helps your employers understand your interpretation. Hence, you need to learn data visualisation using various tools like Excel, Notebook and Tableau.
  • maths and statics knowledge: a data analyst should understand statistical techniques and mathematical concepts to interpret data. Having a solid grasp of maths and statistics helps you decide on the best tools to use and improves your understanding of results.
  • problem-solving skills: a data analyst should understand the problem that needs solving or the questions that the information gathered aims to answer. Problem-solving skills assist you in finding patterns and trends on various data sets or identifying gaps and mistakes in your interpretation methods.
Two men working together in an office environment
Two men working together in an office environment


FAQs about working as a data analyst

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.