An introduction to analytics skills
An increasing number of employers value analytics skills, which describe one's ability to analyze data effectively, when hiring employees. These competencies enable workers to sift through various types of data and make informed decisions. Whether you're an employer seeking the right person for a job that involves analysis or a professional striving to improve your skill set, gaining a better understanding of analytics skills can help. Read on to learn about these abilities and the occupations that require them.
What are analytics skills?
Analytics skills are the abilities needed to assess data, analyze it competently, and use the findings to support better decision-making. Generally, the decisions professionals with these skills make are exponentially better than decisions made by employees without good analytical skills. While certain skills in data analysis are soft skills you can gain naturally, such as critical thinking, others are hard skills, such as data visualization, that you must develop through work or study.
Some jobs, such as that of an operations research analyst, require a complete set of analytics skills. Most jobs, however, require individual analytical abilities, such as accuracy. People equipped with the necessary analytical skills can perform their job duties more effectively than others. Professionals at entry-level, mid-level, and senior positions can use these competencies to improve their job prospects.
Examples of jobs that require analytics skills
Several occupations require some combination of data analysis skills, including:
Operations research analyst
Average base pay: $90,850 per year An operations research analyst solves complex problems for organizations in industries such as health care, using techniques based on math and statistics. This job involves gathering information that relates to a given operational issue, analyzing the data, identifying solutions for businesses, and producing reports that showcase findings. Typically, you must have a bachelor’s degree and get an entry-level job to start on this career path.
Average base pay: $74,529 per year Analytics skills are essential for performing most job duties of a medical scientist. This professional uses their analytical abilities to study various areas of human health and identify topics that can address research gaps, formulate a hypothesis about the topic, plan a method for conducting research, collect primary data, analyze information, see patterns in the data, develop findings, create reports, and communicate them effectively. This job requires a doctoral degree.
Market research analyst
Average base pay: $57,456 per year A market research analyst makes recommendations and estimations about the potential demand for a product or service. Duties involve collecting data on market conditions, target consumers, and competitors; using statistical software to analyze data; and estimating market trends based on their findings. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, you will need great analytics and math skills for this job.
Average base pay: $57,293 per year An accountant performs a variety of financial services. Job duties include assessing financial records, evaluating fiscal risks and opportunities, helping people and organizations file and pay their taxes on time, and providing other monetary services. The three main types of accountants are public, management, and government accountants. For this job, you need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, and some employers require you to pass the certified public accountant exam.
Average base pay: $53,087 per year A survey researcher collects information in various areas, such as voter preferences, student trends, and societal issues, through surveys. Job duties include developing quantitative and qualitative survey materials, organizing field researchers during the data collection process, analyzing data with statistical methods and software, and making coherent reports on findings using graphs and fact sheets. While you can get an entry-level survey researcher job with a bachelor’s degree, most employers seek candidates with a master’s or doctoral degree.
Information security analyst
Average base pay: $97,218 per year An information security analyst protects a company’s computer network by implementing various security measures. Job duties include securing company data by installing data encryption programs and firewalls; conducting penetration testing; analyzing security measures; and producing reports for the senior management on network security, threats, and recommended solutions. To get hired for this job, you need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
Financial systems analyst
Average base pay: $77,161 per year A financial systems analyst works with financial databases and recommends investment decisions. Key job duties include researching business and economic trends, analyzing financial data, making recommendations for a single investment or a portfolio, solving system problems, and developing reports with quantitative data that can support senior decision-makers. To work in this profession, you usually need a bachelor’s degree.
Computer systems analyst
Average base pay: $88,463 per year A computer systems analyst, also called a systems architect, enhances a firm’s computing infrastructure by recommending new software and hardware. Primary job duties include preparing cost-benefit analyses to determine the viability of upgrading computer systems, researching and analyzing emerging computing technologies, reporting findings, and using data analytics tools such as data modeling to design new computer infrastructure. Educational requirements vary, but most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree.
The best analytics skills
Developing certain analytics skills can improve an employee’s on-the-job performance in many occupations. However, soft skills in this area are more transferrable across a variety of jobs than analytical hard skills may be.
Soft skills in analytics
Soft analytics skills that professionals can develop naturally include:
- Accuracy: Accuracy is an important natural ability in the analytics skill set that’s essential for reliable data analysis and discovering actionable information. While professionals can develop this ability naturally, you can practice it in the workplace to improve your job performance. For example, you might develop a safety protocol for identifying errors you make in the workplace so you can address them.
- Attention to detail: Being meticulous and paying attention to the details of a task is another important analytics ability. With this proficiency, you can avoid missing relevant information when conducting data analysis or organizing information.
- Critical thinking: The ability to think critically is an important aptitude, and it’s required at every step of the data analysis process.
- Confidentiality: When performing data analysis, you’re likely to have access to confidential data on your employer, co-workers, or clients. Confidentiality, which enables an employer to trust you with company information, is a key analytics skills.
- Communication: Professionals engaged in analytics use verbal and written communication skills to collaborate with others to manage and clarify data. These abilities are also essential when developing materials that showcase data analysis findings and conveying information to decision-makers.
- Problem-solving: The ability to assess the situational factors that impact an issue and solve it is a key analytics skill that’s also transferrable across most occupations.
- Decision-making: Using data to evaluate alternatives and make rational decisions is an essential analytics skill for most professionals, particularly those who want to pursue leadership positions.
Hard skills in analytics
Here are some hard analytics skills you can gain through education or experience:
- Quantitative data analysis: Quantitative data analysis involves using various statistical methods to identify patterns in numerical data. Most jobs that involve data analytics require the interpretation of numerical data, making this a key skill.
- Qualitative data analysis: Qualitative data analysis involves the study of individual opinions and behaviors to gain insight from them. Analytics professionals should be capable of interpreting this data in addition to quantitative data to obtain the information needed to make strong decisions.
- Microsoft Excel Proficiency: Analysts and other professionals might use Microsoft Excel to enter, manage, and present data. You should be well-versed in using this software and all its features.
- Data visualization: Data visualization is a key skill for professionals whose job duties involve data analytics because it’s a technique for communicating information effectively. It involves using software such as Tableau to boost the impact of quantitative and qualitative findings with vibrant charts and graphs and concise data-driven storytelling.
- SQL: The Structured Query Language (SQL) is a database language that has become a standard in the IT industry. Professionals whose jobs primarily involve data analytics use SQL to store, organize, and link databases. They also use it to change the database structure when necessary.
- R or Python statistical programming: R and Python are robust programming languages used for handling large data sets and performing predictive analyses. For jobs that involve analyzing big data and developing forecasts, professionals should master at least one of these languages.
Professionals can develop a number of analytics skills to improve their data analysis and overall performance. Use this article to identify the jobs you’re interested in that require analytical skills. Find aspects of your analytical skill set that you can improve, and plan to develop them. Then, prepare to optimize your skills analyzing data in the workplace.