Here’s how you can kickstart a new career in the tech industry, according to a data analyst

It's much easier than it seems.

| Matthias Ang | Sponsored | March 29, 2022, 06:09 PM

It is not a stretch to say that the demand for tech roles in Singapore is greater than ever, largely due to the country’s status as a financial hub.

According to a report by SkillsFuture Singapore on “Skills Demand for the Future Economy”, digitalisation has become a key driver of growth.

As Clarence Tan, a data analyst employed under JLL and data analytics instructor for Vertical Institute, puts it:

"I would say that every industry wants people with such skillsets (for tech)! As we are moving to a more digital economy, we are easily overwhelmed with huge data collection. As Singapore is a financial hub in Southeast Asia, you can easily find many tech roles opening in the financial sector."

In addition, many industries are competing over a “limited workforce” possessing the necessary skills for tech roles, Tan added.

These other industries include logistics, e-commerce and healthcare, all of which have come to play a bigger part in the lives of the public due to the pandemic.

So what exactly are the necessary skills one should have for a tech job?

According to Tan, technical skills that one should pick up include the programming language SQL, Python and business intelligence tools such as Tableau.

This in turn entails learning data structures, programming data analytics or data science.

Tan also highlighted, “We must not forget the soft skills such as communication and presentation because eventually, you will be presenting your recommendations to your stakeholders.”

Most importantly, however, one must have the resourcefulness and a willingness to learn, Tan said.

How do I start in the tech industry?

If it’s your first job

The first step, according to Tan, is to research and seek to acquire the skills for the job that you are looking at.

These skills can be acquired through a course, such as the bootcamps held by Vertical Institute, which aim to equip participants with the essentials to enter the tech industry.

As per Tan:

"The course curriculum covers fundamental topics such as SQL and Tableau to get you started on your analytics journey. The courses are also designed for beginners to help them understand technical jargons and acquire coding skills such as Python and data science. For those interested in a non-coding tech role, there is also UX/UI design! All these course offerings are hot skills in demand, and it serves as a great base for you to build up your foundation."

In addition, the instructors, including Tan himself, are industry practitioners which means participants will get to hear their daily experiences.

If it’s a mid-career switch

Similarly, if you are making a career change to the tech industry in the middle of your career, you should acquire as much knowledge as you can and upskill yourself with the required skills, Tan advised.

In his case, Tan was an accountant before deciding to become a data analyst.

"I was attending a data visualisation course provided by my ex-company back then and I realised that the data field is such an interesting profession. I also noticed that there is always a growing demand for people with data analytics skillsets and there is a lot of potential for such a career pathway. As such, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue data analytics as a career."

Tan added that before making the full switch in his career, he made a consistent effort to code at least one hour a day to feel confident about his technical skills.

How can prospective applicants stand out?

In Tan’s own words:

"One of the best ways in my perspective is to be able to have a portfolio at hand or have some business case experience to present to the employer.

There are times when potential employers would ask for my portfolios such as Tableau links, past projects, or any analytical work experience. To present yourself as a strong technical candidate, you can participate in hackathons, coding competitions or volunteer for an analytical project. This way, you can substantiate your skillsets in front of a prospective employer."

Do I need to be good at mathematics or science to be a data analyst?

The short answer is no.

It is a myth, Tan said. He had never been good in either subject.

In reiterating his point about how keenness and a willingness to learn are the most important, Tan elaborated:

“As technology and business landscape continually evolve, we do have to keep up with times by learning new frameworks and coding practices. Developing a keen sense of logic would help in your data analysis.

For example, understanding how a normal customer would behave. This way, you can apply the understanding to your dataset by creating coding scripts that incorporate your logic. So in short, you don’t have to be good in math and science to be a data analyst.”

There are also some jobs in which you could already be a data analyst but not quite

If you are already in a job that involves using a database or wrangling with data, you are actually quite close to being a data analyst, Tan pointed out.

For example, if one has been using a lot of Microsoft Excel to build charts and reports, they are already performing some form of data analysis.

The main difference between being a data analyst and a normal analyst is therefore utilising the coding and analytical framework to work on huge datasets, Tan noted.

Many of the skills that you need to get started in the tech industry are taught at Vertical Institute

As mentioned above, Vertical Institute holds bootcamps for many of the critical skills needed to jumpstart your tech career, whether it is your first job or a mid-career switch.

The good news is that no prior background or experience is required for any of these courses.

This includes bootcamps for:

  • Data Analytics, which includes learning to use tools such as Excel, SQL and Tableau,
  • Data Science, which includes learning coding with Python, and
  • UX/UI Design, which includes learning how to build digital interfaces and experiences.

The bootcamps are conducted virtually, face-to-face with instructors and teaching assistants from renowned companies, and consist of seven lessons, each lasting three hours.

There are also government subsidies available - Singaporeans and PRs may enjoy up to 90 per cent IBF Funding off their course fees and will have to pay as little as S$267.50. This remaining fee can be fully offset with SkillsFuture Credits. In addition, NTUC members can utilize UTAP Funding to cover 50 per cent of any remaining fees (T&C apply).

As the courses are IBF-accredited, participants will be awarded an industry-recognised certificate once they complete their course with Vertical Institute.

You can find out more information about the bootcamps here.

This sponsored article made the author seriously contemplate signing up for such a course.

Top photo via Vertical Institute Facebook