In this post
Data Analysts: What Do They Do, and Why Are They In Demand?Published on March 30, 2021
Data analysts make it make sense. Make what make sense, you might ask? Well… everything.
From numbers, to words, to images, almost anything can be considered data. Data analytics is a type of data science that aims to find the patterns, correlations or relationships in the data and analyse their meaning. They then use these insights to answer some big questions and inform some big business decisions.
What is data analysis?
Data-driven analytics is becoming increasingly important across all industries. Why? It allows companies to make more informed decisions. These decisions are based on the insights data analysts deduce from large sets of raw data, that otherwise would be pretty useless to the untrained eye.
“Put as simply as possible,” says data analyst Jesse Peterson, “The role of a data analyst is to take abstract information and transform it into usable information.”
A data analyst’s work can:
- Help create targeted content to the right customer group
- Optimise productivity and opportunities for improvement
- Ensure more objective decision-making takes place
- Help people innovate and explore with purpose
Data analyst responsibilities
“Data analysts take endless rows of seemingly random dates, numbers and dot points, then convert them into easily readable forms, such as graphs, charts, tables and dashboards,” Jesse explains.
To break it down a little more, the data analysis process generally follows these five steps:
1. Identify the data, define the question
What question are you trying to answer? What do you need to ask to make sure the right data is chosen to answers questions like:
- What are we doing well?
- What are we doing poorly?
- What are our opportunities for improvement?
- What trends are we seeing?
- Why has x changed?
2. Collect the data
Data collection can occur via a wide range of places, however, some common sources include:
- Website visitor tracking
- Buying datasets from collection specialists
3. Clean the data
Although often very accurate, computers aren’t perfect, so, cleaning data is essential. This means sifting through large datasets and making sure only relevant information remains.
4. Analyse the data
There are four main types of data analyses methods that you’ll use throughout your data analyst career:
Describes the features of the data set so you can better understand how you should move forward.
Helps you find out why something has happened —- what are the correlations between values in the data
Uses past data trends to understand current or possible future trends in the data. Predictive analytics uses techniques from data mining, such as using data models, algorithms and machine learning techniques to make predictions about possible future events.
Informs future decisions and course of action based on the trends found in the data. Often, this is reached with the help of machine learning techniques.
5. Report the results to stakeholders
Now that you have found the answers or at least, possible answers to the questions you defined in step one, you need to report it. This means putting your analyses into an understandable format so you can inform all and any stakeholders of your findings and advise them on how to move forward.
A day in the life of a data analyst
Jesse executes on these responsibilities in his day-to-day role in a marketing company:
A normal day in my life as a data analyst is going to be broken up into three key activities: briefing, research and presentation.
The first of these activities, briefing, is the simplest. I meet with a co-worker or stakeholder who has a question that they would like answered. Perhaps they would like to know how effectively our business appeals to different demographics, or perhaps they would like to know-how innovations in our business are being received by our clients.
Regardless of what it is, they have an abstract question, and my role is to take this abstract question, break it down and devise a way to answer it empirically using data.
What do data analysts do in different industries?
Data analysts can work in a range of environments. Like any role, a data analyst’s job description will change depending on which industry you work in and whether you’re an entry-level or senior data analyst. Each industry will have its nuances, its challenges, and specific flow of operations.
Though used to mainly work in investment banks and private equity firms. But now that data is a valuable resource in almost all Australian industries, you can find them working in:
Some unique and exciting data analyst career opportunities include:
Business intelligence analyst
A business analyst mostly works with data metrics related to business activities, such as:
- Customer engagement
- Market information
You’ll focus on improving a business’ market activities and boosting their revenue, while growing authentic customer engagement. You’ll report your findings to key stakeholders so they can make informed business decisions.
You’ll most likely be a part of a company’s operations team, and work closely with the operations manager. You’ll focus on finding data-informed strategies to help improve workflow and efficiency of internal business operations.
Transport Logistics Specialist Data Analyst
Here, you’ll use your data analyst skills to optimise how a business can store, transport and deliver large scale quantities of goods.
You’ll be relied upon to find the best paths and methods for products to be delivered, avoiding and problem-solving logistical nightmares like bottlenecking.
Medical and healthcare analyst
In this industry, you’ll work with medical data management systems to compile health care data. This data can be from a medical clinic’s expenses through to patient diagnoses. You’ll be in charge of controlling expenditure, finding ways to assist in providing optimal health care and improving patient experiences.
Data analyst skills
Being a good data analyst means you’ll need a strong blend of both hard and soft skills.
Your technical knowledge is essential to complete the analysis aspect of the role. Some critical skills you’ll need to have under your belt include:
- Using database tools such SQL and Microsoft Excel
- Understanding programming languages like Python or R
- Data visualisation through programs like Tableau or Jupyter Notebook
- A firm grasp of higher level maths and statistics
“You also want certain soft skills such as communication skills, adaptability and research,” Jesse says.
This is because you’ll be expected to present and justify your work to key stakeholders in an understandable and effective way. You’ll also want to develop strong:
- Critical thinking techniques
- Problem-solving skills
- Analytical skills
Who suits this kind of role?
“A person who enjoys a bit of number crunching, who prefers to work independently, and comes at problems with a critical eye” Jesse says.
”I mostly enjoy the independence a role like this affords. A data analyst is rarely reliant on anyone else in their place of work, rather you’re the one who is relied upon.”
However, he also warns that, “Trying to understand all types of information that are being collected can be overwhelming, let alone finding and extracting the very specific data you need.”
A hot tip from Jesse for all budding data analysts (no matter the industry) is to befriend your company’s data engineer ASAP — “They will be your greatest resource in understanding what data is being stored.”
Best Online Data Analytics Courses: Which One Is Right for You?
Interested in learning more about how you can take the next step to your new career as a data analyst? Discover which online data analytics course can help you start your career.
Dual Diploma of Leadership & Management + Advanced Diploma of Leadership & Management BSB50420, BSB60420
CAL’s Dual Diploma of Leadership & Management and Advanced Diploma Leadership & Management you’ll gain key management skills through the Diploma, then further develop your leadership skills with a strategic focus in the Advanced Diploma, expand...
Certificate III in Process Manufacturing (Perth Only) MSM30116
Advance your knowledge, gain more skills in Process Manufacturing. This course is tailored to students interested in advanced production work utilising a range of different support functions related to producing products. You will gain skills across va...
Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services (VIC ONLY) CPC40912
THIS COURSE IS AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS IN VICTORIA ONLY This course covers common skills relevant for the plumbing industry in addition to specialist streams relevant to drainage, gas fitting, roof drainage, sewerage and more. These plumbing training cou...
Certificate III in Hospitality (Perth Only) SIT30616
The Certificate III in Hospitality is the perfect qualification for those looking for a career in hospitality including working as barista, bar attendant, waiter/waitress. Whether you imagine working in a restaurant, hotel, motel, funky bar, café, club...
Certificate III in Individual Support (Melbourne Only) CHC33021
Are you compassionate and wanting to make a difference? Our CHC33021 Certificate III in Individual Support is a course designed for those wanting to help care for vulnerable people that need assistance. To be an individual support worker, you should po...
Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) (SE Melb Only) CHC33015
If you are looking for a career that is challenging, diverse and offers you the opportunity to make a difference to someone else’s life, then a career in Aged Care could be for you! Aged Care is a rapidly growing industry and during the course you will...
Certificate IV in Ageing Support (SE Melb Only) CHC43015
Get the most sought after qualification in the caregiving industry. Aged care is a rapidly growing industry, thanks to an overall ageing population. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia has a larger proportion of the population b...
Certificate III in Information Technology ICT30120
Are you interested in the IT field but lack experience? The ICT30120 – Certificate III in Information Technology is a qualification that can help you develop the foundational skills needed to start an exciting career in the IT industry, either as...
Certificate III in Information Technology Focus on Programming ICT30120
Want to start a career in programming but lack the skills and experience? The ICT30120 – Certificate III in Information Technology – Focus on Programming is a perfect starter course for those wanting to learn some of the core aspects of the...
Certificate III in Information Technology Focus on Web Development ICT30120
Our ICT30120 – Certificate III in Information Technology – Focus on Web Development is a qualification that can provide you with the training across the ICT fundamentals and to explore some electives in web development. If you decide to go...
Certificate in III Information Technology Focus on Basic Cloud Computing ICT30120
If you want to learn the basics of cloud computing but are also keen to explore the general areas of ICT, our ICT30120 – Certificate III in Information Technology – Focus on Basic Cloud Computing is a great foundational course if you have l...
Certificate in Travel & Tourism
Do you have a passion for travel and dream of making it your career? Are you interested in getting a foot in the door in the growing tourism industry? Do you love the process of planning holidays and discovering the best way to experience a destination...
Certificate in Teacher’s Aide
Are you passionate about children? Do you aspire to work in a teaching environment? Do you love being part of a child’s learning process? Do you want to learn more about behavioural and information processing theories? Then this course is for you. Desi...
Advanced Certificate in Equine Studies
The Advanced Certificate in Equine Studies delivers an advanced introduction to the equine industry, covering a broad range of topics, including caring for and breeding horses, understanding the health of horses, and the complex nature of horse behavio...
Certificate in Nutrition, Health & Wellbeing
The Certificate in Nutrition, Health & Wellbeing is the perfect introductory course that explores the basics of nutrition and health and wellbeing. The course will teach you how to prepare food to retain nutrients, plan balanced diets, and assess t...
Certificate in Landscaping
The Certificate in Landscaping delivers a great introduction to what it takes to become a competent landscape designer. You will learn about the different types of plants, paths, paving, walls, and garden features, as well as landscape planning and man...
Certificate in Childcare
Do you have a passion for working with children? Are you interested in a career in childcare? Do you want to better understand the way children behave and the importance of play? Then this course is for you. This foundation course is designed to provid...
Certificate in Event Management
Do you dream of running your own events business? Do you love planning events and bringing your ideas to life? Do you want to further your knowledge on how to create a successful event, end-to-end? Then this course is for you. Designed as the perfect i...
Certificate in Medical Reception
The Certificate in Medical Reception delivers a great introduction to the basics of administration work and how an efficient and successful office works, specifically in the medial field. You will learn how medical offices operate and best practices fo...
Horticulture Business Certificate
Do you love spending time in the garden? Are you passionate about plants and want to learn more about plant varieties and how to care for them? Do you dream of working in a garden or nursery businesses? Then this course is for you. Designed as introduc...
Online courses also available
Your Ultimate Guide to a Successful Career in Bookkeeping
Embarking on a career in bookkeeping is not just about dealing with numbers, it’s about playin...
How to Grow Your Bookkeeping Career in 5 Simple Steps
Financial literacy and accountability for decision-making are key to the success of many small to me...
Xero vs MYOB: Which Course is Right For You?
When it comes to bookkeeping and accounting software, the debate often boils down to Xero vs MYOB. B...
Want to read more?
Benefits of Working in Construction in a Post-COVID World
With more than 14.9 million cases reported and still rising, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has aff...
Agriculture Careers: What You Should Know in 2023
As one of Australia's most important industries, the agriculture industry offers great career opport...
The Great Healthcare Resignation: What It Means for Healthcare & Social Assistance Workers
We asked community services and healthcare workers what's going on — here's what you need to know ab...