Data Analyst Career Path

For those that have an urge to use data to improve the world around them, a data analyst career path is the perfect fit. 

Data analytics is a growing field with huge demand from businesses looking to bring on new analysts. Regardless of your educational background and work experience, chances are there are data analyst roles out there that could be a great fit for you.

Learn more about different data analyst roles and how to land a job as a data analyst below.

What is a Data Analyst?

In short, a data analyst is someone who analyzes data. However, the type of research you’ll be doing on a daily basis depends on the career path and industry you choose to work in. Typically, you’ll be working with company data to look for relevant patterns and trends that can be used to make business decisions. An entry-level data analyst role is a great way to break into the tech industry, regardless of your previous work experience.


Generally, data analysts break into 3 different types of roles,

Operations Management
Operations Analysts: Operations analysts use data to help make informed decisions about how to improve internal company processes. Read more about Operations Management
Product Management
Product Analysts & Business Analysts: Product-focused analysts like Product Analysts and Business Analysts explore data patterns that can be leveraged to analyze market trends to make product and marketing decisions. Read more about Product Management
Data Scientist
Data Scientist: A knack for data science means getting into the weeds with a large amount of structured and unstructured data to answer challenging questions or build models to power smart products like chatbots, recommendation engines, and other artificial intelligence tools. Read more about Data Scientist

Learn more about what it means to be a data analyst in JobStep’s What is a Data Analyst guide.

What are Data Analyst Job Responsibilities?

Your job responsibilities as a data analyst generally involve assessing data and using it to help make decisions for your business.


However, what you do on the 
day-to-day will vary significantly depending on your company 
of choice and the role type 
you choose.

Below are some examples of how data analysts’ responsibilities vary by the team they work on:

  • Revenue Operations:
  • 
Review accounting data and identify way to improve the processes to improve company profit
  • Sales & Customer Success Operations:
  • Analyze patterns of team behavior, build visualizations, and help managers identify new processes to improve the team’s productivity
  • Marketing:
  • Analyze the results of marketing tests
  • Business Analyst:
  • 
Analyze and build visualizations revenue, expense, customer acquisition and other business metrics to help the team identify new ways to improve the company
  • Product Analyst:
  • Analyze how customers are using the product
  • Data Science:
  • Run regressions, create visualizations, and build models to predict customer behavior and build product recommendations.

What is the Average
Data Analyst Salary?

  Starting 3-5 Years of Experience Career Growth
Operations Analyst $40K 50-$70K Operations Manager ($100K)
Business Analyst $50K-$70K $70-$100K

Senior Business Analyst ($100K+)
Product Manager ($100K+)

Data Analyst $70-$90K Junior Data Scientist ($90k-$100K)
Data Analyst ($90k-$110K)
Senior Data Analyst ($90k-$110K)
Data Scientist ($120k-$200K)

Keep in mind, data analyst salaries vary drastically depending on where you live and work from.

Check out these resources on salaries in the top data analyst job markets as you decide where to work:

  • San Francisco
    $87,500 ($67,500 – $100,000)
  • New York City
    $84,500 ($55,000 – $95,000)
  • Denver, Colorado
    $80,000 ($52,000 – $89,000)
  • Austin, Texas
    $75,500 ($52,000 – $89,000)
  • Miami, Florida
    $68,000 ($40,000 – $85,000)
  • Remote (US)
    $72,500 ($37,500 – $100,000)

What Degree Do You Need to be a Data Analyst?

JobStep helped this former art major land his dream job: Technical Business Analyst

Believe it or not, you don’t need a data-oriented college degree to land a data analytics role. JobStep has helped former arts majors, engineers, sales representatives, and journalists switch career paths (link to switch career paths blog here) into data analysis.

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There really is no ‘typical” degree that companies look for when hiring data analysts. Many organizations are totally fine with applicants getting their data science or analytics education via an online course or boot camp, as long as you can demonstrate that you’ve learned and applied analytics skills with real projects. It’s easier than ever to run your own data analysis projects at home.

To break into an entry-level operations analyst role
(Typically starting at $55K in Major Metropolitan cities)

 

  • You have experience working with data, formulas, and pivot tables in Excel
  • You can extract data from CRMs like Salesforce, Mailchimp, HubSpot or other operations software (like POS (point of sale),
  • HR – Human Resources, Accounting
  • You can summarize your findings with tables, visualizations, and actionable insights.
  • You’re a logical thinker

To break into an entry-level data analyst role
(Typically starting at $70K in Major Metropolitan Cities)

 

  • Have experience analyzing data with Excel, SQL, and at least one of the following: Tableau, PowerBI, R, or Python.
  • With SQL, you should have experience with all joins, group by functions, and where statements to filter data
  • You should know descriptive statistics, comparison metrics, and regression analysis.
  • You can make logical inferences from data and communicate the key takeaways clearly

(COMING SOON!) Learn more about what it takes to be a data analyst in our Data Analyst Education Requirements guide.

How to Get Yourself a Data Analyst Job?

You’ve made a wise decision picking data analytics as your career path of choice.

Now, it’s time to start applying

In the first half of 2021 alone, JobStep applied to 1200+ analyst positions. Here’s what to expect with the application process:

  • 35% of applications will have additional questions beyond the resume and cover letter like years of experience, education, and why you’re interested in the company.
  • <1% require cover letters
  • <1% of applications have some sort of SQL or basic stats question on the initial application

Once you’ve submitted an application,

  • 7.5% of applications result moving forward — if you’ve got an optimized resume
  • The average employer takes 6 days to reach out for an interview
  • The vast majority of data analyst employers will have some sort of exercise somewhere in the process. Expect the exercise to take the form of either a 1 – 4 hour take-home assessment or a 20-minute to 1 hour assessment during an interview.
  • Almost all employers have some sort of SQL or analytics assessment as the next step after the application

Data Analyst Resume

Data Analyst Sample Resumes

Here’s how to optimize your resume & cover letter to make sure you get the highest number of interviews.


Your data analyst resume will need to show a potential employer that you have experience analyzing data and using it to make a conclusion. Employers usually like to see experience working in team-settings in previous roles and experience analyzing data with SQL and excel. Your experience doesn’t have to be from paid work experiences — you can demonstrate having worked in SQL in side projects or from taking online courses.

Data Analyst Cover Letter

Data Analyst Sample Cover Letter

Like your resume, your cover letter should convey that you have a passion for asking (and answering) challenging questions through the use of data sets.

Don’t spend too much time worrying about your cover letter. Based on JobStep’s research, non-profit employers are the only ones who are likely to try to read every applicant’s cover letters. Everyone else will only read them if they have extra time and see something in your resume they’d like more context on. Otherwise, they’ll skim it quickly right before the interview to come up with questions to ask you. That being said, if an employer requires a cover letter, you are 44% more likely to get an interview than for a job that doesn’t require one.

How to Nail a Data Analyst
Job Interview?

Nailing a data analyst job interview usually requires you to showcase that you are analytical and can study data to look for trends within a team environment.

The average number of interview rounds for a data analytics role is 4. Within those interviews, you can anticipate questions to test your knowledge on:

  • SQL (Structured Query Language):
  • Interpreting Data:
  • Statistics:
  • Working within a team environment :

Read on for more detailed interview questions and answers in the Data Analyst Job Interview guide.

What Industries Are Hiring
Data Analysts?

Data analysts are among the most sought after job types in many industries.

The following industries are among the most popular:

  • Enterprise Technology
  • Big Software
  • Consumer Brands
  • Healthcare
  • FinTech (cryptocurrency, blockchain, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Gig Platforms

Work with the experts at JobStep to

Land a data analyst role in a booming industry

What are Similar Jobs to Data Analyst Roles?

The following list are job titles where you’ll likely do data analyst work. With the growing popularity of data roles in general, many brands will use “analyst” in their job titles even if there’s not much data analysis being done. As a result, you’ll want to choose the roles you apply for strategically.

Most Common Job Titles

  1. Data Analyst
  2. Business Analyst

Entry-Level Business & Data Analyst Roles
Typically Starting in the Operations & Marketing Teams

  • Operations Associate
  • Marketing Operations Associate
  • Operations Analyst
  • Junior Data analyst
  • Customer Operations Analyst
  • Marketing Data Analyst

 

Specialized Business Analyst Roles

  • Business Operations Analyst
  • Sales Operations Analyst
  • Revenue Operations Analyst
  • Customer Operations Analyst
  • Customer Success Operations Analyst



  • Digital Channels Analyst
  • Audience Data Analyst
  • Marketing Data Analyst
  • Senior Business Analyst
  • Strategy & Operations Analyst

 

  • People Analytics, Data Analyst
  • Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) Analyst
  • Business Process & Data Analyst

Data Visualization & Storytelling Roles

 

  • Data Visualization Developer
  • Data & Analytics Designer
  • Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst
  • Data Journalist
  • Power BI Visualization Developer
  • Tableau Developer

Data Science, Machine Learning, and Data Engineering Roles
Requires the most technical skill set

 

  • Junior Data Scientist
  • Business Intelligence Data Scientist
  • Data Scientist
  • Senior Data Scientist
  • Data Engineer
  • Computer Vision Engineer
  • ML Engineer

Data Analyst Career Path Trajectory

Common Data Analyst FAQs:

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

A data analyst leverages company data to build comprehensive reports and presentations that answer difficult questions using tools like Excel, SQL, Tableau, PowerBI, Python or R. Excel, SQL and Tableau are typically hard requirements to do any data analyst role paying above $65K. Your day-to-day job responsibilities will include tracking down relevant data from various data sets and sources, finding noteworthy insights within that data, and then presenting the data to relevant departments within your organization.

What Cities Are Best for 

Data Analyst Roles?

Data analytics is a rapidly growing space within countless industries and companies. While remote data analytics roles are available, the most popular markets hiring data analysts are found in the largest metropolitan areas where there is a larger tech industry (San Francisco, NY, Boston, LA, Austin, Washington DC, Seattle, Denver, Chicago)

What Degrees and/or Skills

Do I Need to Be a Data Analyst?

As mentioned above, JobStep has helped job seekers with a variety of backgrounds and degrees break into data analyst positions. 

Traditionally, the most popular data analyst degrees are economics, engineering, and business That being said, there is substantial demand for smart analytical individuals that many companies will hire those who got educated in data analytics and SQL via online courses from programs like Mode Analytics SQL School, Khan Academy, and SQLZOO. 

There are three primary ways one can become a data analyst: 

Learning data analytics on the job. The most common business functions that intersect with data analytics are sales, marketing, customer success, and revenue operations.

Engaging in an intensive data analytics boot camp,  completing an online certification from Udacity or Udemy, or learning data skills from online resources like Mode Analytics SQL School, Khan Academy, HackerRank and SQLZOO. 

Getting a bachelor’s degree in a technical field, such as statistics, science, mathematics, engineering, computer science or IT. If you did internships in college in data analysis or data science and/or  took collegiate machine learning courses, there is also a chance that you could land a role directly as a data scientist.

 

Data Analyst vs Data Scientist: What’s 

The Difference?

In many cases, data analyst roles and data science roles are similar. In fact, many would consider a data science job as a career path within the data analyst field. Overall, a data science role may fall under the umbrella of machine learning, data engineering, predictive modeling, and business intelligence (oftentimes using data analysis)

 

A data analyst is usually analyzing existing data about a business or product specifically.  

 

A data scientist is thinking about what data to collect, how to collect it, what kinds of questions to ask. Data science can also include more predictive modeling and often requires more heavy coding in Python or R. 

 

Are you wondering if you’re qualified for a data analyst role, or want to find out how to get qualified?

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