what is a data analyst?

As a data analyst, you spend most of the day organizing data and helping various stakeholders draw conclusions from the information. Regardless of the industry you work in, your job is to collect and interpret data. For instance, in sales and marketing, you translate sales figures into tangible evidence that helps the company make better decisions.

A data analyst may examine historical data from an organization like quarterly sales, monthly income or annual web traffic and identify trends or spot patterns. You apply your knowledge in descriptive and diagnostic analytics to explain certain occurrences or outcomes in a business. Aside from understanding the past, data analysts also assist organizations with forecasting. You can use descriptive data to detect tendencies and trends to base your predictions. Predicting the outcomes allows companies to take proactive actions to avoid adverse consequences.

job description of a data analyst

When businesses want to determine a course of action, they rely on data analysts to provide data-driven evidence to help them decide. Using prescriptive analytics keeps you ahead of industry trends. As a data analyst, you use complex algorithms, statistical methods and machine learning technology to organize and evaluate data. Sometimes, you need proficiency in data visualization and database programming languages to manage data sources and databases.

Would working as a data analyst suit your analytical and detail-oriented skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a data analyst role.

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average data analyst salary

According to Job Bank, a data analyst earns a median hourly wage of $39 in Canada. The hourly rates fluctuate based on experience, qualifications and the employer. The least experienced data analysts have an hourly wage of $23.08. With experience, the hourly rates increase to over $56.41. The hourly rates also vary depending on where you live. For instance, in Quebec, you earn an average hourly rate of 33.65, while in Ontario, the median hourly wage is $40.87. Alberta pays a higher hourly rate of $41.24 due to the demand for the role in the region.

how to increase your salary as a data analyst

To increase your earnings as a data analyst, move to a region with a favourable pay rate. Regions like Ontario and Alberta have promising hourly wages due to the higher cost of living and demand for data analysts. Alternatively, find a better-paying employer. When you are working for a start-up, they have limited resources and may not afford to pay higher wages. However, working for a large company increases your salary prospects.

Boosting your educational qualifications and experience also raises your salary prospects. Employers are willing to pay more when you have additional experience and qualifications.

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types of data analysts

Some types of data analysts include:

  • business intelligence analysts: your job is to identify patterns and interpret data gathered from the company systems. Aside from internal data, you also collect and evaluate external data from competitors and the market to identify patterns and potential issues that could affect the business.
  • logistics analysts: as a logistics analyst, you gather and organize data from supply chain processes. You use the information to create strategies to optimize the processes, lower expenses and enhance efficiency in production and distribution.
  • business systems analysts: you are responsible for evaluating and leveraging data to improve the functions of a company's information technology systems. You also find strategies to improve the systems.
  • marketing analysts: your job is to use data to understand the market and customers. You analyze the organization's target market information and develop the best marketing strategies.
employee presenting data results
employee presenting data results

working as a data analyst

If you enjoy analyzing data and generating information to improve business intelligence, check out the daily activities, tasks and work environments for data analysts.


data analyst skills and education

To work as a data analyst, you need the following educational requirements:

  • education: pursue a bachelor’s degree or college program in computer engineering, mathematics or computer science. The degree program helps you gain the necessary skills and expertise to perform your duties.
  • experience: you need extensive experience in computer programming and data analysis to excel in your role. Gain experience through internships and entry-level jobs. You can also get additional certifications to boost your programming skills and improve your job prospects.

competencies and characteristics of data analysts

A data analyst requires the following transferable skills:

  • programming languages: as a data analyst, you handle huge volumes of data and perform complex equations. Learning a statistical programming language improves your competitiveness. Python and R are popular statistical languages, but you can find others that suit your role. You also need database management programming skills to organize and store data in databases.
  • proficiency in using data visualization tools: as a data analyst, it is vital to present your findings convincingly. Using charts and graphs helps your employers understand your interpretation. Hence, learning data visualization using various tools like Excel, Notebook, and Tableau is crucial. 
  • maths and statistics knowledge: a data analyst should understand statistical techniques and mathematical concepts to interpret data. A solid grasp of maths and statistics helps you decide on the best tools and improves your understanding of results.

problem-solving skills: a data analyst should understand the problem that needs solving or the questions the information gathered aims to answer. Problem-solving skills assist you in finding patterns and trends in various data sets or identifying gaps and mistakes in your interpretation methods.



Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a data analyst.

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