How to Become a Data Analyst?

Are you thinking of becoming a Data Analyst or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Data Analyst, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Data Analyst job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Data Analyst

A data analyst researches and uses data to help companies make better business decisions by solving problems, optimizing profits, minimizing turnovers, and streamlining logistics. These professionals assess companies' complex information, including behavior, sales numbers, and market research. Data analysts seek to help businesses achieve smarter and simpler conclusions while using technical expertise to test the data for accuracy and quality. In this article, we discuss the steps required to become a data analyst.

Earn your bachelor's degree.

If you're interested in a career as a data analyst, you should earn at minimum a bachelor's degree in a related field. These fields include mathematics, statistics, or computer science. Having your degree will open up more job opportunities. It's possible to begin a data analyst job without having your degree, and with flexible schooling options, you can learn practical application skills while completing your education.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Data Analyst?

83% of people working as a Data Analyst earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Data Analyst?

  • SQL Server
  • Relational Database
  • Microsoft EXCEL
  • Statistics
  • Querying
  • Python
  • Power BI
  • Dashboarding
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Data Analyst in the United States.

Learn essential data analytics skills through internship and support role opportunities.

In addition to a bachelor's degree, you'll need to learn and develop specific occupational skills needed to be a data analyst.

Learning relevant programming languages (R/SAS), working with SQL databases, and becoming proficient with data visualization and data warehousing are objectives you can accomplish through data analyst internship experiences or support role positions. These opportunities can place you in real-world environments, such as corporations or tech firms, where you'll be able to gain the practical experience necessary to progress into data analyst roles with more increasing levels of responsibility.

Suppose you're studying for your undergraduate or graduate degree in the field. In that case, internship experiences offer some of the best environments to connect you with professional data analysts who can serve as mentors for you.


Consider taking certification exams.

Specific certifications will allow you to get an entry-level job without any experience in the field of data analysis. The education required to complete the certification exams will help you obtain and practice the necessary skills needed for this role. Certain courses will give you opportunities to create projects to include in your portfolio. The top 11 data analytic and big data certifications include the following:

  • Associate Certified Analytics Professional.
  • Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences.
  • Certified Analytics Professional.
  • Cloudera Certified Associate Data Analyst.
  • EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate.
  • IBM Data Science Professional Certificate.
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate.
  • Microsoft Certified Data Analyst Associate.
  • Open Certified Data Scientist.
  • SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9.
  • SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9.

Obtain an entry-level job as a data analyst.

While working at an entry-level job as a data analyst, you'll get the opportunity to encounter real-world situations that employ data analytic skills that will be important as you further your career. You'll better understand how integrating industry-specific knowledge with interpersonal skills such as effective communication will be necessary as you progress in your career.


Consider graduate school for further education.

Continuing your education and skills to become a senior data analyst will open up more job opportunities and higher wages. Having your bachelor's degree and several years of working experience will also be necessary to progress in your career. These elements will help you gain a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving data analytics field. You can also look into completing the Master of Science in Data Analytics degree to increase your career options and earning potential.

Data Analyst Career Path

Data Analyst

2 - 4Years of Experience
$66K - $103K /yrMost Likely Range
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32% advanced to

Senior Data Analyst

2 - 4Years of Experience
$101K - $144K /yrMost Likely Range
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Data Analyst IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$98K - $144K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Data Analyst Career Path

Summer Intern Data Analyst
Data Analyst
Senior Data Analyst
Data Analyst Manager
Data Analyst IV
Senior Manager of Data
Principal Data Analyst
Assistant Director of Data
Director of Data
Vice President of Data
Chief Data Analyst
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Related Careers in the Research & Science Industry

Interested in other Research & Science careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Data Analyst skills. Discover some of the most common Data Analyst career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Analytics Specialist
13% skills overlap
30% transitioned to Analytics Specialist