How to Become a Data Analyst

June 10, 2021

Eller Business Blog

Data analytics is one of the most up-and-coming industries in business and technology, with a projected growth rate of 25 percent in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With an above-average growth rate and thousands of new jobs opening for data analysts, it is important to learn both what the position entails and how to become one.

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

A data analyst is responsible for the collection and processing of various kinds of datasets, with the goal of using this research to help a company define a variety of issues as well as the solutions to these problems.

Because technology has become a non-negotiable aspect of how companies operate, the functions and responsibilities of a data analyst have also evolved and become increasingly important.

Some data analysts use programming languages, some utilize statistical software and some prefer various presentation tools in order to visualize their data. The specific day-to-day work of a data analyst is largely dependent on job location, preference and what tools are provided, meaning that those interested are not confined to one single path but have the option of honing on their own skillset in order to find the career they want.

What Tools and Skillsets Do Data Analysts Use?

There are an increasing number of data-based programs for analysts to use, but some of the most popular ones are as follows:

  • Google Analytics (GA)
  • Tableau
  • Jupyter Notebook System
  • Github
  • AWS S3
  • SQL
  • Various programming languages (JavaScript, Swift, Scala, Python, and C# are some of the most common)

Writing and communication skills, domain knowledge, problem-solving skills, the ability to create data dashboards and/or reports, data visualization mastery and statistical knowledge are all very important skills for data analysts to learn and sharpen.

How Do I Get There?

All of the skills listed above can be learned through various programs and internships geared towards equipping future data workers. Though there are a variety of paths that one can take to start a career in data analytics, we have provided a general plan here.

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

There are a number of degrees that can lead to a career as a data analyst—including management information systems (MIS), math, computer science, business analytics, finance, economics and more.

The Eller College of Management offers various undergraduate programs that can help you become a data analyst:


  1. Start developing a data analytic skillset.

Though it is possible to find a career without any work experience, gaining hands-on experience within the field can be a catalyst in finding a job in data analytics.

Whether gaining skills in an internship or externship, attending a data analytics bootcamp or earning a certification in a program geared towards research and data, there are many options when it comes to diving deeper into the career.

Eller provides several workshops and internships to give students an opportunity to expand their knowledge on research and data:

  • Level-Up Workshops—These workshops help build necessary skills in Excel, Photoshop, Premier Rush, Tableau and XD.
  • Tech Core Internship—The Tech Core Internship is an applied learning experience open to students of all majors, both at the undergrad and graduate level. You’ll learn more about data science, coding and emerging, content creation and even sales and marketing.
  • Handshake—This platform can help you find the best internship or externship for your own career goals and preferences.

If you’re a student interested in an internship, we can provide guidance during your internship search.


  1.  Find your first entry-level job.

Using both your education and newly learned skills in the field, you can now start searching for the data analyst career of your choice and finding the best fit for your needs.

From data modeler, business intelligence analyst, data warehouse analyst, systems analyst and more, there are plenty of career options and paths that can match your preferences.


  1. Consider earning your master’s degree.

A master’s degree is a great way to both propel your education in data analytics and your career as a whole. It can also give you the experience needed to enter advanced roles like principal data analyst, senior data analyst, business systems analyst, analytics manager or statistician.

The Eller College of Management offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program that is geared towards expanding your knowledge of data-driven decision making, where you will have the opportunity to use actual company data sets in order to solve business problems and build marketing strategies.

What is it Like to Be a Data Analyst?

Eller alumna Lynette Hutson ’07 MS ’20 MSBA became interested in data analytics through a past career in geology, where she was responsible for using algorithms in her work. This eventually led her to a love for research, a new data analytics role and a decision to pursue the MSBA degree to learn more about the field.

Though Hutson was able to secure a position without any field-specific schooling, Eller’s master’s in business analytics program helped her develop a number of new skills—including how to code, build databases and harness the power of big data—and also helped her develop a plan for the future of her career.

“I firmly believe that in order for companies outside of the tech sector to fully realize the insights and productivity improvements that analytics tools promise, there is an acute need for more workers to have good data management skills,” says Hutson.

Data analysis is becoming an increasingly vital piece of business ventures, as Hutson explains, and in turn, companies are on the lookout for new data analysts every day.

Job Outlook*

2020 Median Pay

$86,200 per year

$41.44 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Number of Jobs, 2019 105,100
Job Outlook, 2019-2029 25% (above average)
Employment Change, 2019-2029 26,100 jobs
*According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Start Your Journey Now!

The Professional Development Center at the Eller College of Management has a team of career coaches with professional industry backgrounds to assist students through the career search process. Our team of career coaches provides our students with years of experience and expertise specific to a certain industry.

If you are interested, get in touch with one of our career counselors today!

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