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What does a career in data analytics look like?

by Chloe Baird
Posted: April 15, 2021

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Data is the oil of the 21st century. It’s an incredibly important commodity that some of the world’s largest companies rely on. Uber, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook – they all depend on data to drive revenue.  

But data on its own is almost useless. Just like oil, it needs to be mined and refined by professionals with the right skills and knowledge.  

Right now there is huge demand for qualified data experts who know how to collect this raw resource and turn it into something immeasurably valuable.

Data Analyst

Should I start a career in data analytics? 

If you have a head for numbers, are naturally curious and love solving tricky problems, a Data Analyst career could be the perfect job for you.  

According to Seek, the average wage for a qualified Data Analyst is between $100,000 - $120,000 per year in Australia. Job growth is strong right now for Data Analysts in Australia and overseas, as society continues to produce an endless stream of data. 

Data has become one of the most valuable resources in the world. And with around 2.5 exabytes of data being produced every single day, there is an ever-increasing need for qualified data professionals to collect and analyse this data.  

If you’ve been thinking about beginning a career in data analytics, now’s the time to make your move.

 What does a Data Analyst do? 

Data analytics involves analysing raw data, which often comes in massive data sets, in order to extract information. A Data Analyst’s job is to extract information from the data sets in order to identify trends and spot opportunities for improvement. 

By collecting and examining data sets to identify patterns, a Data Analyst can get a clear understanding of a situation. By better understanding the whys of a scenario, businesses can use this data to make informed decisions.  

Data Analysts differ from Data Scientists in that they use data to try to gain insight into an existing scenario, and Data Scientists use data to try to predict future outcomes. 

An example of what a Data Analyst does: You’re a Data Analyst and you’ve been tasked with discovering why profits were down this quarter compared to the last quarter. By understanding what data you need to collect, and then knowing how to examine it for information, you can extract evidence that conclusively points to the reasons why profits had decreased. After you’ve presented this evidence, it enables the heads of the business to find ways existing problems can be fixed, hopefully leading to higher profits in the future. 

What’s the difference between data analytics and data science? 

Data analytics focuses on answering questions and finding solutions for existing scenarios. Data analysis often begins with a problem that needs to be solved. A hypothesis will then be formed, and a Data Analyst will collect and analyse data in order to draw precise conclusions.  

On the other hand, data science focuses on the ‘what ifs’. An example of data science in the real world would be analysing traffic patterns to try and optimise routes (think about Google Maps and how you’ll sometimes be re-routed during your trip due to heavy traffic). On the other hand, data analytics would analyse traffic patterns to find out where problem spots occurred and how they could be fixed. Data science and data analytics have some similarities, but they have different applications. 

Tasks and responsibilities of a Data Analyst 

  • Develop and maintain databases, and securely store data.  
  • Communicate with various stakeholders within the business to ascertain what challenges the company is facing and what problems exist that need to be solved.  
  • Collect and collate raw data from both internal and external data sources.  
  • Clean up the raw data so that it can be analysed.  
  • Determine the best techniques and methods for analysing large data sets.  
  • Extract information from the data sets and then convert it into a presentable format (often referred to as data visualisation).

Data Analyst

What are the top skills needed to become a Data Analyst? 

Here are some of the skills for Data Analysts you’ll need if you want to begin a successful career in data analytics.   

1. You need to have a head for numbers 

Statistics is bread and butter for Data Analysts. This doesn’t mean you need be a maths genius. But as Data Analysts work with large sets of data, you need to have a proficiency with numbers, primarily statistics.  

2. You need good interpersonal and communication skills 

A large part of a Data Analyst’s job is using the information they’ve gathered to tell a story. Data Analysts interact with a lot of different people within a business, and not all of them with be familiar with data sets or analytics jargon. It’s your job as a Data Analyst to be able to take that raw data, mine it for information and then transform it into something presentable and understandable that can be used to make decisions. Making data presentable is called data visualisation.  

3. You need to know code 

SQL, Python, R, MATLAB and Oracle are some of the programming languages you’ll find in the world of data analytics. Knowing at least one programming language is essential. Hadoop is also a common framework that’s used when working with data.  

4. You need to enjoy problem solving 

The role of a Data Scientist is to use data to find answers and solutions, whatever the question or problem may be. This means you need to enjoy problem solving and not be daunted by any challenges that come your way.  

What kind of jobs are there in data analytics? 

Many different industries and companies utilise Data Analysts. This means there are plenty of opportunities out there for Data Analysts, and you won’t be confined to just one industry. However, you may find a speciality area that you enjoy working in, such as finance, marketing or logistics. Having a niche could benefit you in the long run, as companies often look for experience in similar areas when recruiting Data Analysts.  

Here are 5 jobs you could find in data analytics: 

  1. Data Analyst  
  2. Business Intelligence Analyst 
  3. Data Engineer 
  4. Marketing Analyst  
  5. Operations Analyst 

Do I need a qualification to become a Data Analyst? 

If you’re looking to start a career in data analytics, a great place to start is with the Certified Data Science Professional course.  

Open Colleges has partnered with the Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT)?to bring you this online data science course. This online course has been developed in consultation with industry experts to teach you the basic core skills and knowledge needed to begin a career in data analytics. It also gives you access to AIICT’s industry partners program, which will help connect you with companies that are actively looking to hire people trained in this area. 

Generally, to become a Data Analyst, you’ll need a bachelor degree in an adjacent field, such as maths or computer science. But a great place to begin is with the Certified Data Science Professional course to give you strong foundational skills and knowledge in this area.  

Are you ready to take the first step towards a rewarding and exciting career in data analytics? Enrol with OC today.


Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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