How to Become a

How to Become a Data Analyst: Skills, Requirements, and Career Guide

Reviewed By Product Expert and Coach
Elizabeth Hogue
April 16, 2024

Welcome to the exciting world of data analytics! In today's data-driven world, it's more important than ever to be able to make sense of the vast amounts of information available to us. But did you know that data analytics is not a one-size-fits-all field? In fact, there are many different specializations within the field, each with its own unique focus and set of skills. We'll walk through that together, but if you're looking to know more, check out our info about the different specializations of analytics.

No matter which specialization you choose, a career in data analytics can be rewarding and exciting. So, whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, read on to get a high-level view of a career as a data analyst!

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What is a Data Analyst?

A data analyst is a professional who is responsible for gathering, aggregating, and drawing insights from complex data in order to inform business decisions. They use statistical techniques and software tools to clean, organize, and model data, and then use this information to identify trends, patterns and insights. Data analysts may also create visualizations and reports to communicate their findings to stakeholders. Data analysts work in a variety of industries, including finance, healthcare, retail, and technology.

"Data analytics" is the overarching category of analytics jobs within a company -- and for technology specifically, that includes three major groups of roles. These primary specializations are derived from the data sources and problems each analyst is working to solve. The main analytics specializations in tech are Product, Marketing, and Operations-- and they can each be wrapped under the general "data analyst" umbrella.

Examples of Analytics Specializations in Tech

  • Product Analysts - these analysts specialize in user experience data on a platform or website. Some sub-specializations of a product analyst could be a Payment Analyst or Service Analyst.
  • Marketing Analysts - these analysts focus on marketing channel performance. There are many different sub-specializations depending on the company size.
  • Operations Analysts - these analysts focus on operational efficiency and reporting for the business. A popular sub-specializations is a Business Analyst.

Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

What does a Data Analyst do?

Data analysts spend a bulk of their day monitoring data, looking for any trends, and presenting insights and recommendations to team members.

A data analyst's day is broken primarily into three parts:

1- trendline monitoring
2- dashboard creation
2- exploring for improvements

Trendline monitoring is the process of observing their data to make sure there are no abnormalities. Abnormalities are dependent on the type of analytics specialization, but an example could include observing something like a steep drop-off in conversion rates by a product analyst. Trendline monitoring is often done by watching applicable metrics within the specialization. View our individualized analytics job guides to learn more.

Dashboard creation is where the web analytics platform skills come in. It's a data analyst's job to create reports that are viewed by other team members to help them make decisions about the company and prioritization of activities. At a larger company, expect tens, if not hundreds, of individual dashboards.

Exploring for improvements is the meat of the data analyst's role. This often involves diving deep into a particular question and trying to find trends, such as “what’s the most popular channel used to access our site?” or “why does our social media marketing have such a high bounce rate?” From there, the data analyst is encouraged to craft up hypotheses that their respective team members will work to solve.

Some examples of the differrent specializations include:

Product Analytics Example

An example of product analytics could be creating different user funnels to show the steps a user took before adding a product to cart, then buying. Did they come back several times? Did they view content before viewing products? All site or platform questions are on the table for product analysts.

Marketing Analytics Example

An example of marketing analytics could be observing the various user touch-points before finding their way to your site. Was the user impressed by an ad on a search engine (Google)? Did they match with a keyword that your company had created content for? Anything involving how a user was exposed to your product is on the table for a marketing analyst.

Operations Analytics Example

An example of operations analytics could be examining which physical stores are doing best, or optimizing reporting on employee efficiency. Company finances also fall into operations analytics, so any sort of budgeting, forecasting, or revenue performance reporting would also be common tasks of this type of analyst.

Education Requirements

Do I need a degree to be a Data Analyst?

While this role seems more technical, data analysts can come from all backgrounds.

Job descriptions will often mention a requirement of something STEM related, but often psychology majors do well here because they’re able to understand the “why” behind user interactions. This is also a popular bootcamp role, which we don't love, but would be remiss not to mention.

  • Data entry and receptionist professionals
  • STEM majors- anything math, science, or technology related
  • Liberal arts degrees with a writing twist (for reporting and data storytelling)

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. While this job works great with degrees, you have other options. Learn more here.

Do data analysts need to know code?

Analytics is often associated with coding, including SQL or Python to access huge swaths of data stored in warehouses. However, this is incredibly company dependent, and often marketing analysts are not required to code.

Most popular web analytics tools -- Google & Adobe Analytics, Amplitude, Heap and others do not require programming to access data and have an intuitive user interfaces. If a company is requiring "coding" or "programming," it may be worthwhile to ask about the reason in an interview. If they have lots of data only accessible by warehouse, this may be more of a data scientist role!

One of the main distinctions between analytics and data science is the ability to code-- and data scientists are paid better for it. Don't be fooled into doing data science for lower pay!

Our Favorite Data Analyst Certifications

Grow with Google Logo

Google Analytics

Google Sponsors a data analytics certificate program through Coursera. This is one of the more coveted certificates in the industry for Google Analytics, and as a paid media analyst we highly recommend getting familiar.

Learn More

UC Davis Logo (University of California at Davis)

Data Visualization

UC Davis teaches a class in Tableau to manipulate and visualize data. It's included with a Coursera subscription ($49/month) and has a rating of 4.5 stars with almost 6 thousand reviews.

Learn more

duke university logo

Data Analysis Specialization

This specialization focuses on data programming in R, and spans 3 courses. It covers probability basics, inferential statistics, and light visualizations. Duke is an incredible certification for Linkedin.

Learn More

Salary and Career Potential

Entry Level Data Analyst Salary

We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and data analysts can make anywhere between 75k - 98k, depending on their location and skillsets.

Career Path of a Data Analyst (Generic)

  • Data Analyst, or Jr Data Analyst: Spend about 2-4 years at either level here.
  • Senior Data Analyst (Usually will have a specification by now): Spend about 3-5 years here. This is also a popular role to freelance.
  • Analytics Manager (or Marketing/Product/Ops Manager): Spend about 5-10 years here.
  • Director of Analytics: This one is tricky, but most folks spend roughly 4-6 years here.

Job Requirements and Skills

Popular Job Description of a Data Analyst

We've used AI to aggregate the top job descriptions used by hiring managers looking for data analysts. When putting your resume together, try to mimic these listings. To learn more about this process, check out our partner Jobscan for a comprehensive resume review.

  • Collect, clean, and analyze large datasets using statistical software and tools.
  • Develop and maintain dashboards, reports, and metrics that measure the performance of the business.
  • Identify trends and patterns in data and provide meaningful insights to stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to design and implement data-driven solutions.
  • Communicate findings and insights to stakeholders in a clear and concise manner.
  • Maintain and update databases and data systems as needed.

Top Skills of a Data Analyst

We've compiled thousands of job descriptions for data analysts to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.

Remember, data analytics is the high-level field for the different departments. So these bullets are slightly aggregated. Check out our more specific job guides if only interested in a single specialization.

  • Craft and tell compelling data stories from various data sources
  • Basic understanding of marketing channels and common product metrics
  • Develop hypotheses for testing prioritization across marketing and product-related channels
  • Gathering and utilizing data to create compelling visualizations and recommendations
  • Showcase findings through PowerPoint presentations
  • Experience with AB Testing and Optimizations
  • Familiarity with omnichannel marketing campaign KPIs and performance benchmarks
  • Assist with team's prioritization with data-driven methods

Top Tools of a Data Analyst

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming a data analyst, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

Again, these are heavily focused on the technology sector of marketing and product analytics.

Gathering Quantitative Data

  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Amplitude
  • Heap
  • Mixpanel

Gathering Qualitative Data

  • Hotjar
  • Userbrain
  • Fullstory

Aggregating Data

  • Excel/Google Sheets
  • Tableau
  • Lookr
  • PowerBI
  • Mode

Task Management

  • Jira
  • Confluence
  • Notion
  • Trello

Key Traits of a Successful Data Analyst

Curiosity - Data analysts need to have a natural curiosity and a passion for data. They should be able to find joy in sifting through structured and unstructured data sources to identify patterns and trends that can inform business decisions.
Qualitative & Quantitative Research - As a data analyst, you should be skilled in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. You should be able to extract insights from data and use them to inform business decisions, as well as to conduct qualitative research such as user surveys, focus groups, and interviews.
Analytics Platforms - This goes hand in hand with quantitative research. To be effective as a data analyst, you need to be proficient in using analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, Mixpanel, or Amplitude to pull the data needed for your analysis.
Mathematics & Statistics - A solid foundation in basic math and statistics is crucial for data analysts. Being able to work with percentages, understand trends, and use statistics to support their insights are all key skills.
Data Storytelling - As a data analyst, you need to be able to craft a story with your data. You should be able to communicate the when/what/where/how about the data, and present the information in a way that makes it easy for others to understand.
Data Visualization - The ability to present and visualize data is crucial for data analysts. You should be able to use charts, graphs, and other visualizations to communicate results of your analyses to stakeholders and other teams.

Get Data Analytics Experience

How to Get Data Analytics Experience

Learning on the job is one of the fastest ways to get familiar with new topics, and showing is much better than telling. Use a website creator to write about something you're passionate about, and use Youtube videos or our recommended classes to learn how to implement free Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Then monitor your data! Think about what paths you'd expect users to take while engaging with your content and write about why.

Congrats! You've written your first data story. This is great content for a mini "portfolio" to talk about on interviews. Expert mode: find a local business to trade work for-- maybe you throw up GA & GTM, they give you a meal, and you can give them a few insights to improve their user experience. Win, Win, Win.

Some popular analytics questions:

  • How are users finding the site for the first time?
  • Are users converting on their first visit, or do they have multiple touch points?
  • What's the most common path to conversion for users?

If those sound like a foreign language to you, we recommend checking out our tech terminology report to get familiar with popular terms and questions.

My Experience with Data Analytics

I actually started my entire career in product analytics, which is a popular and fast-growing segment of data analytics. Truth be told, I can't recommend the analytics field enough as a fantastic entry point for tech folks, aspiring product managers, and entrepreneurs alike. My colleagues in analytics came from a range of backgrounds, including both journalism and psychology (not a single mathy person in sight!), which gave them unique abilities to craft compelling stories and analyze user behavior. I can't emphasize enough how diverse this industry is, and how much I absolutely love this kind of work!

While analytics may seem intimidating to some, it's actually a great fit for anyone with strong critical thinking skills. And, as I've learned, transition roles can often be a valuable stepping stone to your dream job. So, if you're looking to break into the world of product management, or just tech in general, don't overlook the exciting and rewarding opportunities that analytics can offer.

Difference between Data Analyst, Marketing Analyst & Product Analyst

"Data analyst" is a very broad category of jobs, which includes product, marketing, business and operations. Marketing and product are specializations within data analytics. For example, all marketing analysts are data analysts, but NOT all data analysts are marketing analysts.

Difference between Product Analysts and Marketing Analysts

While both roles often work with the same platforms to gather and aggregate data, these two titles are very different in regard to what they focus on. In larger companies, these roles often live in entirely different departments as the names suggest, Product and Marketing.

Marketing Analysts focus on the best ways to attract users and potential customers to the site. They specialize in breaking down different customer acquisition channels like SEO (search engine marketing, meaning organic google or bing), paid search (google or bing sponsored ads), or paid media and tracking traffic levels and performance. Learn about the different types of marketing traffic here.

Once a user is on the site, often from the optimization efforts of the marketing analyst, the user is passed along to the . Product analysts focus strictly on a website or application, and how customers interact with it. The primarily role of a product analyst is increasing site metrics like order conversion or product views.

To recap: a marketing analyst is responsible for analyzing and improving the ways at which a customer accesses the product, while a product analyst is in charge of making sure that customer completes the product's desired actions once acquired.

Get Started with a Bridged Recommendation

Wharton & UPenn Present

Review: Business Analytics Specialization by Wharton

Wharton is one of the best business schools in the country, and their analytics program is top-notch. Use the sampler pack to learn about marketing, ops and HR analytics practices.
Read Full Guide


Data analytics is the practice of using data to inform decisions about marketing strategies and content performance. A digital marketing analyst finds, gathers, and organizes data about marketing channels to help teammates and colleagues make decisions about the all faucets of the marketing business.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a product analytics role?Let us know at

Check out our sources!

Glassdoor Team. “Salary: Data Analyst (February, 2023) | Glassdoor.” Glassdoor, Glassdoor, 1 Feb. 2023,,15.htm

Elizabeth Hogue
Bridged's co-founder Elizabeth is wildly passionate about reading books, writing (bad) short stories, and helping her friends find new jobs.


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Find information on career paths for high-paying roles that align with your strengths and goals. Try our easy quiz to help you get started.

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target skill gaps

View the skills you need to learn and develop with our state-of-the-art gap identifier. This is your next stop once you've found a role!

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review certifications

Learn about affordable and reputable certifications that won't break your bank. No expensive bootcamps or schooling required.

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We've vetted jobs at top companies that need talent! Easily match with companies that work with your job preferences.

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