Today, there are over 87,000 data analysts employed in the US. As we generate more data daily, the demand for these experts is only growing.
This means that if you’re a data analyst, or hope to become one, you’ll have a secure future. Not only will there be plenty of job opportunities, but the pay will be spectacular as well.
However, there are some things you should know as a data analyst to make your career smoother. Below are seven useful pieces of advice you should know.
Processing raw data is only one part of being good at your job. Just because you have the skills a data analyst needs doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to process data effectively. You need to make sense of the whole picture too. Before you dive into the information, you should first ask yourself: what’s the business problem here? And what data sets do you need or have to solve it?
The above questions will help you look at the possible courses of action and pick the right one for the situation. That way, your data analysis aligns with the business goals.
You should also understand the structure and quality of the data you have. More importantly, determine the relevance of it to the issue at hand; you’ll avoid using irrelevant or incorrect data, and therefore, you won’t make wrong conclusions.
Speaking of having quality data, you should always clean and pre-process it before diving in.
Some tasks you should take care of include:
- Removing duplicate data
- Handling null values
- Correcting incorrect data
- Standardizing data formats
- Normalizing numerical data
- Encoding categorical variables
Lastly, you need to convert the data into a usable format for your analysis.
Admittedly, cleaning and pre-processing data can take up a good chunk of time. But you shouldn’t skip these steps, as they ensure your data’s correct and your results are reliable. As a result, you can uphold your reputation as a skilled and accurate analyst.
Many people are visual learners, so putting your results down as line charts, bar charts, histograms, scatter plots, heatmaps, and other visualizations can give everyone the big picture. Just make sure you choose the right type of visual to suit the data and goals; you’ll immediately see patterns and trends that were hidden in the raw data with the right chart.
When you can transform a mess of numbers into an easily digestible visual, it’ll make it much easier to communicate your findings with others, even if they don’t have a technical background. This makes data more accessible to the world.
As in many other industries, technology is rapidly changing and evolving. While you might’ve received a formal education and training, this only provides a good foundation for your career.
If you don’t have your ear to the ground, then you can be quickly left behind. As other data analysts are learning and adopting new tools and techniques, you may be wasting your time with archaic ones.
In addition, keep up with the latest trends for privacy and security concerns, as well as the responsible use of data. There are ethical issues surrounding data, such as how it’s gathered, stored, and deleted, so you need to ensure you’re meeting industry guidelines.
Staying up-to-date with tech will definitely give you a competitive edge. Not to mention, you’ll keep delivering the best results too.
The other stakeholders may not have data analysis knowledge or skills, but they may still have insightful opinions that can help you make breakthroughs and get better results. This makes it vital for you to collaborate with them instead of siloing your work.
Hold plenty of meetings and presentations, and get together for discussions, so everyone’s always up to speed. You’ll want to get people like a business owner, data scientists, and subject matter experts for these gatherings.
These collaborations can lead to better alignment between the data analysis and business goals. In addition, you can delegate tasks for better efficiency, and you’ll get more accurate results since you’ll share knowledge and insights between departments. Most importantly, you’ll drive innovation and creativity when you mix and match different perspectives.
To collaborate with your stakeholders, you must communicate effectively. For this reason, your job as a data analyst isn’t solely to make sense of the information; you also need to be an excellent communicator who can make raw data and results easy to understand.
Make sure you use clear and concise language, and avoid using complicated jargon; opt for accessible language instead. Tailor your presentations to each audience, keeping their technical knowledge level in mind, in addition to their requirements and goals.
When you’re an effective communicator, there’s improved accuracy and accountability. You’ll also benefit from increased impact and influence since others can count on you to provide correct information for key business decisions.
Keeping up with current technology isn’t enough.
Be proactive and attend workshops and conferences. In your spare time, read industry blogs and articles, and sign up for online training. There are even online communities where you can share and learn from one another.
By expanding your knowledge and expertise, you can specialize in specific areas. You’ll also be able to handle larger datasets and solve more complex problems. This can open up opportunities for better pay and job satisfaction.
You can also keep learning within your company. Ask for feedback on your work and incorporate it in the future. Not only does this help you grow as a data analyst, but it also shows your employer your dedication.
You might’ve already found a footing in the data analysis industry and have a decent career going. But there’s always room for improvement.
If you follow the tips outlined in this article, then you’ll have room to grow and find more opportunities. The field will never get boring, and as a competitive player in the field, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
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