How to become a Data Analyst

Data Analyst

Every business collects data - this could be on their target audience, performance, or marketing success. A data analyst uses this data to unearth how the company can grow and improve.

Data analysts gather and present information about a business. This could be data about anything: the spending habits of customers, the costs of transportation, or the increase of profits year on year. Similarly, the data could be used for any purpose to help the business run and develop. Data analyst’s findings could assist the business when working out how many new staff they need to hire, if they need to order more stock or whether they should change their opening hours. 

A data analyst’s role is thus very important; it is often the main factor in business decisions that could significantly impact how it runs. There are four types of analytics that data analysts will work with: descriptive (talking about what happened in the business), diagnostic (discussing why something happened), predictive (talking about what is likely to happen) and prescriptive (discussing what should be done). Analytics from the past will detail the answers to these questions; it is up to a data analyst to work out what they mean. 

A data analyst job description: 

  • Collecting data using various web programmes.
  • Pooling together data and looking at it from an objective perspective. 
  • Looking for trends and patterns which can help plan for the future.
  • Producing reports detailing the findings of the analysis – these need to be understood by people who are not into data. 
  • Presenting to people from other departments – including the marketing, sales and customer service teams – as well as people in managerial roles. 

Data analyst education requirements are generally a minimum of a degree in maths, statistics, computer science or a related field. Advanced jobs need a masters degree in a similar subject. It is possible to apply to graduate jobs after gaining an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, although it takes a while to work up to the more senior positions. 

Excellent maths knowledge is obviously essential, but so are written and presentation skills; data analysts turn numbers into words, so aptitude for both is essential! It’s also important to have critical thinking and attention to detail, as well as being someone who is highly competent when it comes to technology.

Data analysts can work in many industries; candidates wondering how to become a data analyst would benefit from having some background knowledge of their particular industry. Analysts can work across the industry that they have chosen, or in a specific niche.


What degree is most commonly held by a Data Analyst?

  • BA / M of Computer Science
  • BA / M of Information Technology
  • BA / M of Economics
  • BA / M of Mathematics
  • BA / M of Finance
  • BA / M of Data Science
  • BA / M of Accounting
  • BA / M of Business Administration

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
Being a data analyst is an increasingly in-demand job, as the world is relying more and more on technology and subsequently producing more data. Furthermore, many businesses are international and may require data analysts to look at comparisons of country data. Therefore, it is quite easy to get a data analyst job in an international firm in another country. Knowledge of the local language would be an advantage.

What is the Salary of a Data Analyst?

Experience Average salary | year
Junior Data Analyst 1-2 Years $73,000 £28,691 $52,500
Data Analyst 3-5 Years $96,000 £60,109 $109,990
Analytics Manager 5+ Years $125,000 £87,439 $160,000

What skills are needed to become a Data Analyst?

  • SQL
  • Data Analysis
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Project Management
  • Management
  • Tableau
  • Business Analysis
  • Research
  • Microsoft Word
  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Teamwork
  • R
  • Python
  • Data Visualization
  • Databases
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • PowerPoint
  • Public Speaking
  • Analysis
  • Business Intelligence
  • Statistics
  • Requirements Analysis
  • Social Media

Data Analyst Courses

If you are wondering how to get into data analytics, a great way to supplement your education is to take some extra courses. At FutureLearn, we offer various courses about decision making, digital media analytics and data in the tourism industry, which could provide a breadth of knowledge that would be beneficial when applying for jobs.
  • Data to Insight: An Introduction to Data Analysis and Visualisation

    Get a hands-on introduction to data science exploring principles of statistical analysis and data visualisation

  • Big Data: Data Visualisation

    Data visualisation is vital in bridging the gap between data and decisions Discover the methods tools and processes involved

  • Big Data: Measuring And Predicting Human Behaviour

    Join us to explore how the vast amounts of data generated today can help us understand and even predict how humans behave

  • Managing Big Data with R and Hadoop

    Learn how to manage and analyse big data using the R programming language and Hadoop programming framework

  • Survival Statistics: Secrets for Demystifying Numbers

    Learn to evaluate risk make useful approximations and more rational decisions with this online course on statistics

  • Marketing Analytics

    Learn the basics of marketing analytics and understand how to use data to ensure your marketing is effective

  • Making Sense of Data in the Media

    Discover how to read and understand data in the media and how to spot fake news based on misleading statistics

  • Introduction to R for Data Science

    Discover big data work with airline data to learn the fundamentals of the R platform

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

We partner with over 170 world-class universities, institutions and industry leaders to create world-class courses to help you with your career. Whether you’re just starting out, wanting to deepen your knowledge or change direction, FutureLearn and our partners can help. These are just a few of our world-leading partners.