How to Become a Data Analyst: The Beginners Blueprint

1 Jun 2023
12min read

Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.
-Peter Sondergaard

You might have heard of the famous brand 'Coca-Cola'.

Do you know that data is changing the way Coca-Cola approaches its marketing strategies?

Yes. It has leveraged data to its advantage in decision-making and conducting experiments.

For example, it uses data gathered from consumer feedback to come up with new products.


Coca-Cola has internally connected vending machines all across the world. These machines allow customers to create their own drinks.

Through this, they can see some real trends and patterns, especially by countries and regions, which are then aggregated over time.

These findings are then used to come up with completely new product ideas, like 'cherry-flavoured Sprite' or 'Exotic mango-flavoured diet coke'.

It sounds fascinating, right?

This is precisely what Data Analytics is, with, of course, multiple layers included.

In today's world, data is everywhere. Businesses are collecting more data than ever before, and they are looking for ways to use this data to their advantage.

If you love problem-solving and have a knack for details, then being a Data Analyst might be your calling.

In this blog post, we're going to explore what it means to be a Data Analyst, why it's a great career choice, and how you can become one.

Who is a Data Analyst?

Data Analysts collect, analyse, and interpret data to help businesses make better decisions. For this, they use a variety of tools and techniques.

They then use this information to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can be used to improve business performance.

Whether it's determining the most profitable product, identifying the latest market trends, or predicting future sales, a Data Analyst holds the key to unlocking the value in data.

What does a Data Analyst do?

In this section, we will look at the process followed by a Data Analyst within an organisation to come up with reliable findings that eventually form the foundation of the decision-making process.

This includes stages such as:

  • Data Mining: Data Analysts collect data from various sources, whether they are internal (generated and collected within an organisation, such as sales records, customer databases, and employee information, and strictly meant for the use of the organisation only) or external (obtained from outside the organisation, such as social media trends, market analysis, and government records).
  • Quality Assurance: Regardless of its size, data is the starting point for each and every business, in its day-to-day pursuits. Therefore, it's the responsibility of the Data Analysts to ensure that the data collected is relevant to the business.
    The next step towards achieving this is Data Preparation.
  • Data Preparation: This data, collected from various internal and external sources, is raw. This means it always has some errors, missing values, and redundancy. The job of a Data Analyst is to convert this raw data into structured form by removing the errors.
  • Maintaining Databases: Petabytes of data get generated on a daily basis. The job of a Data Analyst is to create, keep updating, and delete databases as per requirements.
  • Collaborating with other teams: Data Analysts decipher data and convey the hidden messages to other teams, who will use this information in the further decision-making process.
  • Preparing Reports: Data Analysts present their findings to other stakeholders in an easily understandable way. It can be in the form of charts or graphs that help others visualise the data and make data-driven decisions.

Is Data Analyst a good career?

  • Growth and Career Hierarchy: As Data Analysts have a direct influence on the decision-making process, they can very easily move into managerial positions.
    Many Data Analysts also have the opportunity to travel and work remotely or relocate easily, even internationally.
  • Booming Demand: The US Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that the demand for data analytics jobs will grow by 23% between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the average of 5% for all other industries.
    A report conducted by Analytics Insight predicted job openings for more than 3 million data professionals last year.
    Owing to the pandemic, there has been an exponential rise in how data is collected and interpreted for decision-making processes, leading to a high demand for Data Analysts in almost every industry like healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, marketing, retail, IT, and finance.
  • Competitive Salaries: According to LinkedIn, the average base salary for a Data Analyst in India was INR 8,40,000 in May 2023.
    However, this may vary depending on your seniority, where you are located, and a few other factors
  • Constant Learning: In the world of data, things never get dull. There's always a new tool to master or a fresh type of analysis to learn. If you enjoy constantly expanding your skills and knowledge, you'll find plenty of opportunities to do so as a Data Analyst.
  • Making an Impact: As a Data Analyst, you'll be doing more than just crunching numbers. You'll be uncovering insights that can drive strategic decisions and have a significant impact on a business's success. It's a role that combines technical skills with creative thinking and offers the satisfaction of seeing how your work contributes to the bigger picture.

How to Become a Data Analyst: A Step-By-Step Guide

Data Analyst: A person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician.

1. Foundational Knowledge

It's not mandatory to have a background in Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, or Computer Science.

BrainStation's most recent Digital Skills Survey reported that 76 percent of respondents did not begin their career in data, and nearly two-thirds have been working in the field for only five years or less.

However, it is important to develop a solid understanding of Math, Statistics, and Problem-solving.

2. Data-Analytics Certification

Though you don't need a full-fledged degree in this field to embark on a career, a structured and formal approach to acquiring the necessary skills makes the process easier for you.

Here is a list of things you should look for before choosing a course:

  1. Hands-on curriculum that contributes to your portfolio.
  2. Mentorship
  3. A certification of completion
  4. Job preparation and career advice
  5. Dedicated placement assistance

3. Learn relevant tools

Programming languages like Python and SQL and knowledge of data visualisation tools like Excel, Tableau, etc. are non-negotiables and must be mastered from the very beginning.

4. Industry-relevant Projects

Getting hands-on experience with real-time data-oriented problems will not just give you an opportunity to test your acquired skills but will also enhance the credibility of your resume or portfolio, making you more employable.

Getting internships or working as a freelancer can give you the much-required industry exposure.

5. Develop soft skills

The responsibilities of a Data Analyst aren’t just confined to analysing data but also presenting the findings to all the stakeholders.

For this, you need to have soft skills like communication, problem-solving, decision-making, etc., which will not just help you with showcasing your functional findings but also help in maintaining healthy professional relationships, which will make you an asset to the company in the long run.

6. Networking

Reaching out to people from your own field makes you open to different perspectives and broadens your horizons. It can also help you identify a mentor, thus keeping yourself on track not just during the tenure of your course but throughout your career as well.

7. Start Applying for Jobs

Once you feel confident that you have acquired the necessary skills and have worked on a sufficient number of projects, start applying for jobs.

Use notable job portals like LinkedIn, Naukri, Indeed, etc to find data analyst Jobs. The professional network you built and the mentor you reached out to can also be used to expose you to relevant job opportunities.

Keep shyness at bay and make the most of every platform you have.

8. Lifelong Learning

This isn't the last step, but a tendency you should build as early as possible and carry on for the rest of your life.

As this field is extremely dynamic, there’s no reaching an ‘I-know-it-all’ stage but constant upgradation with new tools and techniques that enter the scenario, thus keeping yourself relevant amidst changing times.

It will not just make you more employable but also accelerate your growth in your current organisation.

Decoding the Future: Job Outlook for Data Analysts in India

Getting sceptical regarding the stability of any field is quite obvious, especially in the current scenario of mass layoffs and rapid integration of AI.

Fortunately, the job outlook for Data Analysts is bright.

Although some aspects of the work may be automated, substantial growth in Data Analytics jobs has been predicted.

Data Analytics as a field is omnipresent in all industries, from healthcare and transportation to manufacturing and banking. With a massive increase in the amount of data generated, the demand for professionals who can derive meaningful insights from it is ever-increasing.

To begin with, the global data analytics market size is projected to grow from $7.03 billion in 2023 to $303.4 billion in 2030 at a CAGR of 27.6%.

Moreover, gaining Data Analytics Skills is crucial for unlocking exciting career opportunities. With these skills, you can dive into the field of information security and become a master at protecting valuable data from cyber threats. These skills can lead you down the path of market research, where you can discover valuable insights and help businesses to make informed decisions. Moreover, all these career paths fall under the top 25 careers according to U.S. 2023 News’s Best Jobs Ranking.

On top of that, advancements in fields like AI and Machine Learning are opening up new avenues for data professionals. So, whether you choose to remain a Data Analyst or decide to climb up to more advanced roles, the future looks promising.

For example, Data Analytics opens the door to Data Science, another credible career path with an excellent job outlook.

Now you might wonder, What about the Indian Market?

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Data Analytics industry in India is expected to reach a market value of up to 9.87 lakh crore INR and create over 1 crore jobs by 2026.

Apart from traditional sectors like IT and finance, even sectors like agriculture, entertainment, and education are embracing data analytics. This means a wider job market for data professionals.

Furthermore, with the concept of remote work becoming more acceptable, Indian Data Analysts also have opportunities to work for overseas companies, giving a significant boost to their job prospects.

In short, the job outlook for Data Analysts in India is glowing. The opportunities are vast, the growth is substantial, and the future is bright.

Data Analyst Roles and Salaries

Now let’s take a look at the diverse job profiles an individual can enjoy after acquiring the skills of a Data Analyst. Some of these job profiles include:

1. Data Analyst

They are the key player in any data-driven decision-making process. They clean, process, and interpret data to help companies make better decisions.

Data Analyst salaries in India range from ₹ 1.7 lakhs to ₹ 11.1 lakhs, with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.1 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on the 83.7k latest salaries received from Data Analysts.

2. Business Analyst

A more specialised role where the analyst uses data to solve business-related problems, optimise operations, and improve strategies.

Business Analyst salaries in India range from ₹ 2.7 lakhs to ₹ 15.0 lakhs, with an average annual salary of ₹ 6.6 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on the latest 110.9k salaries received from Business Analysts.

3. Marketing Analyst

These analysts work specifically with marketing data to help create targeted advertising campaigns and improve customer relations.

Market Analyst salaries in India range from ₹ 2.0 lakhs to ₹ 13.7 lakhs, with an average annual salary of ₹ 6.0 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on the latest 2.5k salaries received from Market Analysts.

4. Operations Analyst

They focus on the internal processes of a company, using data to streamline operations and increase efficiency.

Operations Analyst salaries in India range from ₹ 2.4 lakhs to ₹ 8.0 lakhs, with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.0 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on the latest 11.5k salaries received from Operations Analysts.

5. Financial Analyst

These professionals use data to analyse financial markets and guide investment decisions.

A financial analyst’s salary in India ranges between ₹ 2.0 lakhs and ₹ 11.0 lakhs, with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.0 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on the latest 50k salaries received from Financial Analysts.

Final Thoughts: Starting Your Data Analyst Journey

Reaching the end of this guide, we hope that you now see a clear path towards becoming a Data Analyst. It's an exciting journey, filled with lots of learning and the chance to have a great job in the world of data.

Every successful Data Analyst started just like you, curious and eager to learn. So, don't worry if the list of skills seems lengthy or the time to learn feels too stretched. With focus, curiosity, and the right help, you can master this field.

Not sure where to start or how to build the right skills to become a Data Analyst?

Don't worry, we've got your back.

Join the NxtWave Intensive Program. Learn directly from alumni of IITs and industry experts from top MNCs such as Microsoft and Amazon to become an in-demand Data Analyst.

Some of the key highlights include:

  • Receive a scholarship worth ₹16,000.
  • Anyone can join, regardless of their background knowledge about data.
  • Finish the program online within 5-8 months.
  • Access 24/7 online labs for coding practise.
  • Get your doubts cleared every day from 9 a.m. to 9 .m. with our team of experts.
  • Build capstone projects to showcase your new skills.
  • Dedicated placement support, assistance with resume building, interview preparation, and salary negotiations.
  • Get industry-ready certification.

The NxtWave Intensive program has proven to be successful in guiding aspiring developers to build a solid foundation, master essential skills, and secure their dream jobs as Data Analysts.

Over 1000 of NxtWave learners with zero coding knowledge from various educational backgrounds have achieved software jobs. Check out the inspiring success stories of our learners here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a degree in Mathematics or Statistics to become a Data Analyst?

No, while having a background in Mathematics or Statistics can certainly help, it's not a must. Many Data Analysts come from different academic backgrounds and learn the necessary skills through online courses, boot camps, and self-study.

2. Is it necessary to learn programming languages for Data Analysis?

Yes, familiarity with programming languages like Python or R is important for a Data Analyst. These languages help in data cleaning, data manipulation, and data visualisation.

3. How long does it take to become a Data Analyst?

The time frame varies depending on your background and the amount of time you can dedicate to learning new skills. With NxtWave's Intensive Program, you can expect to be job-ready within 5 to 8 months.

4. Can I become a Data Analyst without prior experience?

Absolutely! Many people transition into data analytics from different fields. You just need to acquire the right set of skills. This is where NxtWave's Intensive Program comes in handy.

5. Are Data Analysts in demand in India?

Yes, the demand for Data Analysts in India and around the world is high and is expected to grow in the coming years due to the increased use of data in decision-making processes within organisations.

6. What is the average salary of a Data Analyst in India?

As of 2023, the average salary of a Data Analyst in India is between INR 3 - 6 LPA for beginners. With experience and advanced skills, the pay can go much higher.

7. What is the difference between a Data Analyst and a Data Scientist?

While both work with large amounts of data, the key difference lies in what they do with it. A Data Analyst often explains past and present business scenarios by interpreting data. A Data Scientist, on the other hand, uses data to predict future outcomes and trends.

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