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What does a Data Analyst do?

A data analyst (sometimes called systems analyst) helps businesses use their computer systems. Your knowledge of computers and problem-solving skills could help you gain the qualifications needed to become a data analyst.

More than computers: data analyst responsibilities

To help businesses use their computers, data analysts solve processing problems, figure out what each user needs, and review a computer system's capabilities. You can figure out which hardware and software should be used and how to configure them.

Other tasks can include working with management on computer systems to determine whether goals are being met, and coordinating and linking computer systems.

But a data analyst job involves more than computers--these professionals need to be able to work with the people who use them. An analyst needs to be able to listen, solve problems, and communicate with all levels of staff and management, some of whom might not have a computer background.

Education, training and degrees for a data analyst

Many employers are interested in a data analyst with education and relevant work experience in this field. Recommended bachelor's degrees are in computer science, information science, applied mathematics, engineering, or the physical sciences. If the job is more technical, many employers may prefer a data analyst with a graduate degree. However, some employers may hire data analysts who do not have a degree but who have taken courses in computer science or related subjects and have relevant experience.

Education continues even after securing a job, though. Because technology changes frequently, data analysts are usually expected to keep up with the latest developments in their field by taking additional courses, which can be offered by employers, colleges and universities, and private institutions as well as professional computing societies.

What does a data analyst earn?

You can benefit by applying within job sectors hiring the greatest number of creative directors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the following were the top three job sectors hiring the most data analysts:
  • Computers systems design and related services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Insurance carriers
Career outlook for data analysts

Because computers are such an important part of businesses, employment in the computer field is expected to grow faster than average, by 20 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Data analysts with experience, strong leadership or business skills may have the opportunity to be promoted to positions as senior or lead analysts, managers, or chief information officers. Some data analysts with experience and a specialty may choose to become individual consultants or start their own consulting firms.

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