How to Become an Analyst: Benefits and Career Options

How to Become an Analyst

Choosing the right career can be a challenge. It’s a balance between finding something you like and a career path that will give you the salary and lifestyle you want. If you enjoy working with numbers and spotting trends, then becoming an analyst might be the perfect choice for you.

So, what exactly does an analyst do, and what skills are needed to qualify for these jobs? Here’s what you need to know about the different types of analyst jobs and what you need to pursue this career path.

What is an Analyst?

Data is the ticket to success in today’s world. Just about every industry uses data to predict demand, streamline operations, and make business decisions. Collecting data, however, is only the first step.

Analysts are data professionals who conduct research and skillfully draw insights out of an organization’s collected data. They might also use publicly-available data to support data collected in-house.

On any given day, an analyst might be responsible for tasks such as gathering and preparing data, interpreting data and finding patterns or trends, and preparing reports to synthesize their findings. Analysts have to be able to extract relevant insights and present them in a way that is clear, concise, and helps business leaders make important decisions.

Most people who become analysts are curious people who love to ask questions and find the answers.

Different Types of Analysts

All analysts work with data, but there are some differences in an analyst’s role based on the industry they work in and the type of organization that employs them. Someone analyzing biostatistics data for a public health agency is going to have a very different role than an analyst working for a financial institution.

Data Analysts

A data analyst can provide all kinds of insights for an organization through analysis, depending on their needs. Data analysts are the most versatile type of analysts, meaning that they can get work in many different types of organizations.

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts often work in financial institutions such as banks and pension funds, but they are also hired by insurance companies and any other organization that needs help managing money. A financial analyst uses data to find areas of opportunities, risks, and other information that can be used to guide financial strategies.

Business Analysts

A business analyst is someone who analyzes business data in order to help companies improve their performance. Business analysts are largely problem-solvers— they find opportunities for improvement within an individual company and provide recommendations for solutions. Business analysts are typically experts in business strategy in addition to their analysis skills.

Operations Analysts

Many companies find that their operations are inefficient and could be streamlined. Improving operations can have many benefits, such as reducing costs, increasing efficiency, or making the workplace healthier and safer for employees. An operations analyst uses data to find opportunities for improvement in a company’s operations so it can cut unnecessary waste and unlock other benefits.

Economic Analysts

An economic analyst’s role is to use data to gain insights into the current economy and to make predictions about future economic conditions. These findings can then be used by governments and other organizations to make more informed decisions.

Benefits of Becoming an Analyst

Because data has essentially become the world’s most valuable commodity, the demand for analysts is strong and growing all the time. This makes it a highly stable career path that will provide lots of opportunities and job security.

Analysts can earn a good living, especially once they’ve gained several years of experience. The median pay for financial analysts was $95,970 per year as of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although some types of analyst jobs pay more than others, experienced analysts in all fields can expect to earn strong salaries.

Analyst skills are in-demand and transfer well into other related career paths. Analysts often go on to become data scientists or move into fields like machine learning. There’s a lot of growth potential that goes along with becoming an analyst.

Educational Requirements

For most entry-level analyst jobs, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. Typically, a degree in a field like finance, accounting, economics, or business is a good starting point for becoming an analyst.

Beyond getting a 4-year degree, some people pursue additional certifications to give them a professional edge in the job market. These certifications are usually specialized, such as the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate. Depending on the type of analyst job and the company’s requirements, additional certifications can be a must.

Skills and Experience

As an analyst, there are several skills that are necessary for success. Analysts need to be good problem solvers and critical thinkers. They also need to be comfortable working with technology, especially data management and analysis tools like SQL, Python, R, Excel, and Tableau.

A side from technical and analytical skills, analysts need to be effective communicators. They need to communicate their findings to others within their organizations and know enough about business to find the most relevant trends and insights. Attention to detail is also critical.

Most analysts start in an entry-level, junior role and work their way up. While a lot of the skills needed to become an effective analyst can be developed while earning a degree, it’s no substitute for hands-on experience. Education lays the foundation and experience builds on it.

Is Becoming an Analyst Right for You?

A career as an analyst is a solid choice in today’s economy and job market. If you enjoy digging into data and solving problems, then it could be the perfect path.

Before you decide if becoming an analyst is right for you, think about what you really want and what you enjoy. Remember, you will be doing this job for 40 hours per week so you need to be confident that you will find it interesting enough in the long term.

So, is becoming an analyst right for you? Only you can decide. Take your time and don’t rush into a decision. Analyzing your skills and interests could be your first step toward your new career.