With data analysts in such high demand, it’s a great time to consider pivoting into this exciting and growing field. The field is expected to grow 25% by 2030, far outpacing growth in other sectors.
If you’re thinking about becoming a data analyst, you may be wondering if you need a college degree to make this transition. Don’t fret if you don’t have one. In this article, we’ll cover the skill sets you’ll need to become a data analyst without a college degree.
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How to become a data analyst without a degree
Here are the steps for how to start a data analysis career without a college degree:
1. Develop a plan
The first step toward starting a data analyst career is to develop a career plan. Having a plan with clearly defined goals can help you define each step of your career journey and assess your progress as you pursue a job in data analytics. When making your plan, consider your career timeline. Account for how much time you plan to spend gaining skills to apply to the industry and what your financial goals are over the course of your career. The more specific and defined your goals are, the easier it may be to track your progress.
2. Gain technical skills
Data analysts need good technical skills to perform their roles effectively. Often, data analysts know multiple coding languages and can apply them to build programs that perform specialized functions. Some common coding languages that data analysts use include:
Learning one or more coding languages can help you apply your programming abilities to create analytical systems. It also helps you work well with others in the field. When you know the same programming languages as other professionals, it can improve your communication and collaboration abilities. Other technical skills that data analysts need include the ability to apply statistical models and other mathematical processes, knowledge of data visualization techniques and skills for cleaning and preparing data for analysis.
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3. Earn practical work experience
In addition to learning technical skills, also look for opportunities to apply them in real-world scenarios. Gaining practical work experience is essential to building your professional network and developing your skills. Especially if youre working to become a data analyst without a formal degree, having the experience to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities is important for expanding your career options. To gain field experience, consider finding a professional mentor you can work for as an apprentice. Other options include performing volunteer work, shadowing experienced data analysts or taking entry-level positions in fields related to data analysis.
4. Create a portfolio
As you pursue opportunities to learn technical skills and gain field experience, consider starting a portfolio that demonstrates your work. A portfolio can show a potential client or hiring manager that you have the right skills to meet their needs. Submitting a portfolio along with your other job search materials allows you to showcase your best work. As part of your portfolio, choose exhibits that highlight your skills, such as:
Additionally, consider including materials from any group projects on which youve worked. These materials show you can work as part of a team.
You might create either a digital or physical portfolio, depending on the industry in which you plan to work. While many employers prefer digital portfolios, having a physical one to show at in-person job interviews can be a good idea. If possible, be flexible with your portfolio. Consider changing what pieces you showcase to suit different kinds of employers.
5. Consider earning certifications
Finally, even if you prefer not to pursue a formal degree program in data analysis, consider enrolling in a certification program to expand your credentials. Certifications show that you have a high level of mastery in particular areas of data analytics. For example, some software manufacturers offer certificates that demonstrate your competency in particular programs. You may also earn certificates in certain programming languages. Certifications can reflect positively on your application during the job search process, or they may attract clients if you work freelance.
Certification programs require less time and money to complete, making them an excellent option for those looking to expand their credentials with minimal investment. Unlike degree programs, which can take many years of study to finish, many certificate programs take six months or fewer to complete. These programs can also offer a higher level of specialization in the topics that matter most to you and your industry than a general degree in data analytics or a related field.
What is a data analyst?
A data analyst has an important job that involves collecting, analyzing and interpreting data on behalf of a business or client. Their work involves devising systems that allow them to collect key data points. After gathering this data, they process and interpret it so they can apply it to solving problems for their clients. Data analysts often use computer programming skills to build customized programs that analyze specific types of data sets. They may either work in-house for a company or as independent contractors. Some of their typical responsibilities include:
FAQs about data analysts
Here are the answers to some common questions about this career:
Where do data analysts work?
Data analysts work in diverse industries, including health care, finance, marketing, engineering and technology. Almost every industry relies on data to understand its key markets and opportunities for expansion. Since data analysts can work in so many different fields, they enjoy considerable flexibility when determining where they wish to work. In addition to these diverse industry opportunities, data analysts also have many options for their work setting preferences. While some data analysts work as in-house employees, others work remotely or by contract. Data analysts might work in office environments, travel to meet with clients or work from home.
What skills do data analysts need?
Data analysts need a combination of soft and technical skills to excel in their careers. Some skills they need include:
How much do data analysts make?
Can you become a data analyst without a degree?
How do I become a data analyst without a technical degree?
Can you be a data analyst without math degree?
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