You’ve probably heard of the term “data analyst” at some point in the last few years.
A quick search on jobs platform Linkedin will reveal thousands of available job openings for data analysts.
But what exactly do data analysts do, and why are companies in all sectors from Aerospace to Zoology — who seemingly have nothing in common — all hiring for the same role?
What is data analytics?
Data analytics, in a nutshell, is the science of analysing raw data, in order to make conclusions about that information.
Essentially, you must first collect pieces, or sets of data, organise them properly, and then analyse them, in order to draw useful conclusions from them for business purposes.
According to Cliff Chew, a former Senior Data Analyst at Grab, analysing data can help companies identify their key target audience, and help them to understand how best to shape their product to serve their needs.
Data can also help companies and organisations better optimise the use of their resources.
For example, a restaurant can use data analytics to better gauge the exact amount of ingredients they need to purchase every month, in order to minimise food wastage.
What do data analysts do on a day-to-day basis?
According to Chew, a typical work day for a data analyst is split between technical and non-technical work.
Technical work may include extracting and processing ad hoc data requests, or simply creating basic workflow optimisation and automations.
Non-technical work may involve working with stakeholders to better understand their business, allowing the data analyst to better form viable data solutions for the company.
Chew said that such non-technical work is often as challenging as the technical work, as identifying the most impactful business problem to solve is of utmost importance to the company.
Ok, but what kind of skills do I need?
If you are keen to join the industry, you’re probably interested to know what qualifications you need to get hired.
The good news is, you don’t need any prior work experience, and anyone with an open mind and a strong curiosity to solve problems can (in theory) be a data analyst.
On the other hand, this does not mean that there are no hard skills required for the job.
For example, you need to be proficient in at least one programming language, such as Python or SQL, and have working knowledge of at least a few other languages.
It also helps to have an analytical mind, and to have strong communication skills, given that data analysts must be able to clearly convey their findings to business executives and other stakeholders.
Chew added that there are many ways to acquire these skills, from books and videos, to more guided courses, like the ones provided by Smartcademy.
Hmm. How feasible is it for someone to jump from a completely different field?
According to Chew, this isn’t as hard as people may imagine.
He said that he doesn’t view data analytics as a field of its own, given that it requires a certain context to be useful.
This means that a restaurateur, digital marketer or cybersecurity specialist can all become data analysts, provided they have the right skillset.
Chew also said that the economy will only become more dynamic in the future, and people may require more skills in order to remain competitive.
For example, a reporter could very well end up as a data analyst, using his experience in crafting narratives to make his analysis of data more understandable to stakeholders.
“Past and present skill sets should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but rather, as stackable components to help make the individual more employable”, he said.
How much can I expect to be paid?
While the technical skills needed to be a data analyst may seem daunting, the good news is that your remuneration will be quite solid.
Fresh graduates in the field can expect up to S$4,000 monthly, according to Chew, and those with 10 years of experience can expect up to $10,000 a month.
If you’re unhappy with your current job, perhaps this is a good field for you to jump to.
Why are there so many jobs available?
You may be wondering: if the pay is attractive, then why are there so many job openings for data analysts?
Well, the truth is that many countries, including Singapore, are facing a shortage of talent in the field.
This shortage hits Singapore even harder, given that it is a country that is strongly dependent on talent to maintain its global competitiveness.
This shortage largely stems from the fact that the industry is fairly new; after all, the field did not even exist 10 years ago.
According to Chew, it’s important for Singaporeans to embrace the notion of lifelong learning, given how quickly new industries change, rather than believing that they are set for life after the conclusion of their tertiary education.
Consider joining Smartcademy’s data analytics course
If you’re interested in joining the data analytics industry, you can consider enrolling in a beginner-friendly data analytics course from Smartcademy.
It is an Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) Accredited course, which will introduce the basics and fundamentals necessary for success in the industry.
The course will span over eight lessons, with each lesson being three hours long.
There will be a mix of assignments, assessments, with a capstone project to end off the course.
Best of all, no prior programming or technical background is necessary.
Eligible Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are able to get up to 90 per cent funding support from IBF, and will have to pay S$620.60, inclusive of GST.
Singaporeans aged 25 and above can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to offset this remaining amount.
For eligible company-sponsored candidates, the IBF-subsidised fee will be S$986 nett.
For more information, you can check out Smartcademy’s website here.
This sponsored article by Smartcademy makes the writer realise the importance of lifelong learning.
Top image via Unsplash.