The Exact Steps To Become A DATA ANALYST

Total Data Science
Published in
7 min readSep 22, 2022

Based On My 15 years of Experience @ Microsoft

After spending 15 years of my life working in the industry as a Data Analyst and moving on to become a Data Scientist at Microsoft handling a team made up of many Data Analysts and Data Scientist, I am sharing the following insights for the young ones out there to save time and money and not to find themselves in the same frustrating situations as their seniors have faced some time past.

This post will share insights on:

  1. Is Data Analytics a good career?
  2. Do you need a Degree to become a Data Analyst?
  3. What are the exact steps to take to become a Data Analyst?

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1. Is Data Analytics a good career?

If you are new to Data Analytics, the first thing you may be looking for answers to is: Is Data Analytics really a good career to pursue?

Well let’s answer that with the data out there.

Before we see the data, let me make it clear that Data Analytics is not a domain on its own. For instance if you are nurse, you definitely work in the health sector right?, if you are lawyer, you will work in the law industry isn’t it? well data analytics is not like that, it is a skill and techniques that you master in order to apply it in any domain. Meaning you can learn data analytics today and work in the health sector as a health analyst or work in the security service as a security analyst, or in research institute like McKinsey as a Research Analyst, or maybe at Microsoft or Google as a Data Analyst or information scientist or analyst. What am trying to say is that you can work anywhere once you master the skills.

Now am going to show you data from the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS which is the most credible source to get real world data of real people working in the industry right now.

Below is a screenshot of information security analyst position with a salary of $102,600 per year.

Next is a screenshot of Operations Research Analyst position with a salary of $82,360 per year.

Next is a screenshot of Operations Research Analyst position with a salary of $95,570 per year.

Next is a screenshot of Data Analyst position at Paypal with a salary of $87.8k to 111k per year.

Next is a screenshot of Data Technology Analyst position at Bank of America with a salary range of $77.8k to 98.6k per year.

Again you can see a fresher Data Analyst position at CloudBig with a salary range of $110,000 per year.

Now all these data presented above is to give you an idea of Data Analyst positions which are ranked among the top careers to pursue. I wouldn’t say by all means go get into Data Analytic but if you are someone who love to crunch the numbers and drawing insights, then definitely go for it and you will love yourself and your career.

2. Do you need a Degree to become a Data Analyst?

Many people starting a career in the field of data analytics often gets confused whether to go for a degree or certification.

First of all, to do a Data Analyst work per se does not require you to have a degree in anything, it requires you to have knowledge and the skills to achieve results. In my team here at Microsoft, we 12 in a team, comprising of data analyst, data scientist, business analyst and a product manager. Out of these 12 , 2 have PhD, 4 have masters, 2 with bachelors and 4 with no degree, came in with certification and they have been promoted thrice because of performance. In fact my assistant manager who is also a Data Analyst holds a certificate in Data Analyst not a degree and yet he supervise 4 masters employees. It’s all because of his performance.

Don’t get me wrong, degree is very important and can easily get you a job. In fact when it comes to promotions in the company, your level of degree can highly contribute as well as your performance.

So this is how it works, if you already have a bachelors or masters or even PhD in some field, you don’t really need another degree in the field of analytics before becoming a data analyst. What you need is a structured certificate course that will give you practical hands-on understanding of the various analytical concepts.

If you want to work in the industry as a Data Analyst, don’t waste your time and money on degrees, rather get into a well structured certificate course and get into the industry as as soon as possible to start gaining experience.

Instead of spending 2-4 years chasing degrees, you can complete a certificate course, do an internship or get direct job to gain experience and use that experience to apply for a bigger data analyst position. If you spend 2–4 years in college you will still come out as a fresher while someone who will be having certificate with rather 2– 4 years of work experience will be preferred. Note that all industries care about is the result that will help them achieve higher profits, not grammar or degree certificates.

If you want to work in the academia as a data analytics lecturer or professor, then acquiring your masters and PhD in the field is very important. Also if you want to work in big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, etc as Research Scientist, then you may want to consider getting a masters or PhD in the field of analytics.

If you have a bachelors in some field and you are considering to enter into the field of Data Analytics, I will advice you to first get a certificate in data analytics and get a job in data analytics, while you are working you can still get a masters in data analytics or even data science on weekend batch or online while you are still gaining experience. Before you finish your 2 years masters online or weekend batch, you also already have 2 years of working experience to get a higher position and a higher salary hike.

3. What are the exact steps to take to become a Data Analyst?

Most people who try to enter the field of Data Analytics just learn half way and then struggle to even crack data analytics interviews. Few who manage to get job offer also get stuck and struggle when faced with real-world analytics projects.

As someone who has worked as a Data Analyst at Deloitte and Data Scientist at Microsoft and also a mentor who has helped 1000s of students to successfully become Data Analysts through my course, here is my personal advice for you to become a Full Stack Data Analyst.

The learning Phase:

Master the following concepts during your learning phase:

  1. Master Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis
  2. Master SQL for Data Analysis
  3. Master Python programming for Data Analysis
  4. Learn R Programming (not a must but may help)
  5. Master Data Visualization (Tableau or Microsoft Power BI recommended)
  6. Master Data Storytelling and Data Presentation Skills
  7. Know as much Statistic as you can.
  8. Web Scraping for Data Analysis (Optional)

The Practice Phase: Most Importantly

9. Get a Data Analyst Internship (paid or unpaid)

10. Participate in Hackathons or personal projects.

11. Write about your projects on Medium or any other platform(the more you write, the more you understand the concepts)

12. Make Sure Your Github account has all your projects in order(you will need this during the interview stage)

The Final Face: This face can come before or after you get a job:

13. Target a particular domain and start to gain domain knowledge and be good in that domain.

These steps I have given you are exactly what we have been using to achieve tremendous results for our students.

If you need a personal curriculum to guide you, download this one.

If you are interested in becoming a full-stack data analyst, feel free to check out the Full Stack Data Analyst A-Z™ BootCamp, I can also personally guide you there.

Last words.

The field of Data Analytics is going to be even more attractive but it takes the Full Stack Data Analyst to reap the benefits.

If you like this article and wants me to keep writing more on topics like this to help you, kindly give it a clap. Thanks in advance.



Total Data Science

Data Science | Artificial Intelligence | Machine Learning