Exploring the Duties of a Data Analyst
A data analyst’s work begins with collecting data in accordance with specific requirements and objectives of the research project. Understanding the specific data needs is the key to successful data collection. For collecting data the analyst may deploy one or more data resources from a wide range of resources like – statistical reports, market surveys, government records, financial reports, demographic studies, etc. While some data may be readily available in the form of reports, CDs or over the Internet, more peculiar data means the analyst may have to do a bit of running around. At times the analyst may have to devise his own ways of extracting or collecting data.
The next important duty of a data analyst is to arrange the collected data in a way so as to make it meaningful and usable. Depending on the type and size of the analysis, the data analyst may use some tools as simple as spreadsheets to the more complex data compilation software. Knowledge of computers and the ability to use complex software is something that is a must for every data analyst. Being familiar with using spreadsheets – like using simple formulas to separate and organize data, are some of the basic requirements for becoming a successful data analyst. This aspect of the data analyst’s duties is more laborious than analytical, requiring long hours of work in front of the computer. Nevertheless, it’s an important part of a data analyst’s job role and responsibilities. The more well organized the data is, the easier it will be to go ahead with the analysis.
It’s finally at this stage that the data analyst gets to use his analytical abilities – to analyze and interpret what the data means. Analysis is largely automated, but here the analytical abilities of the data analyst mean more than using an automated solution. The analyst has to draw specific data from relational databases and reorganize it into more meaningful information – that addresses some specific objective.
Although not always, the duties of a data analyst may involve preparing comprehensive reports of the findings of the analysis. In addition to writing good reports the data analyst must be well versed with the use of graphs, charts and statistical tables to objectively present the analysis results for quick and easy reference.
Looking at the job role of a data analyst, it’s quite evident that the right candidate for this position must posses a certain amount of technical expertise. There are a number of technological solutions available for data analysis and many more keep cropping up every now and then, thus the analyst must be willing to learn and adapt to the latest technology. The ability to make projections and forecasts is another trait that will help a person to excel in the field of data analysis.
Image By: Sidharth Thakur