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Data is to this century what electricity was to the industrial revolution. Initially, most people didn't know what to do with the internet. The only they could think to make money with it was through ads. So for a brief moment, the internet was a glorious neon metropolis of flashing ads and annoying pop-ups.

However, as advancements in processing chips and data storage were made, we could suddenly store and process large volumes of data. And, with skilled personnel, we began to be able to derive insights to drive business decisions from seemingly incoherent data.

Data is so profitable it is the central strategy for large tech firms like Alphabet and Meta, which give their products to end-users for free and then monetize collected data as ads to companies.

In our series on Data Analytics, we've looked at how you can become a Data Analyst. Today we'll be looking at the skills needed to succeed in a career as a Data Analyst.

What Skills Do Data Analysts Need?

We'll categorize these into two: hard and soft skills. Hard skills are the technical and academic knowledge professionals require to work in their field. Soft skills refer to those more abstract concepts, like attitudinal, behavioural, mental and sometimes physical abilities, that will help candidates thrive in a professional and collaborative work environment.

Technical Skills

Technical skills refer to the sort of knowledge one can acquire from a Data Analytics education as you can get through any formal or self-taught program. We will also group these into three broad categories:

  • Data Skills: As a Data Analyst, you will work with large volumes of data. You will need to know how to collect, clean and store data. You will also need the statistical knowledge to properly analyze, interpret and infer insights from this data and communicate these insights to stakeholders and decision-makers. Sharing your insights might involve understanding Data visualization techniques and creating and giving clear presentations.
  • Software Skills: Because of the large volumes of data involved in Data projects, much of the work relies on specialized software and tools. From basic spreadsheet programs such as Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel to more advanced analysis and visualization tools such as Matlab and PowerBI, which have been designed specifically for working with data, you will have to have a well-rounded understanding of these tools to be successful at your job as a Data Analyst.
  • Programming Skills: While GUI software helps make the work of a Data analyst easier, they also need to understand and be able to work with scripting and database languages such as SQL and Python. Knowing how to write programming scripts, a database system's language, will help you use and manipulate that database more accurately.

Soft Skills

Your job as a Data Analyst will involve working on projects in teams and communicating insights to less data-savvy decision-makers at the end of the project. You will need all the necessary skills to work, collaborate and communicate effectively.

  • Communication Skills: To solve a problem, you first have to be able to define it. Data Analysts work in teams, and having excellent communication skills will help you collaborate effectively. Once you've got the insights from your analysis, you will have to communicate them to others who will use them to drive business decisions. Understanding how to communicate complex information -verbally and visually- is crucial for a Data Analyst.
  • Curiosity: Extracting answers to managerial questions from large volumes of data is the job of a Data Analyst. And so, to succeed as one, you should have a curious mind. You recognize problems and are eager to find solutions to them. Curiosity lets you know what questions to ask, why, and how to extract the results from a data set. Curiosity will help you ask questions that lead to unique insights and innovative solutions.
  • Analytical skills: Approaching a problem with curiosity and knowing what questions to ask and why are the first step. Your next step will involve understanding how to extract information based on those questions. Analytical skills will help you query more effectively. They will help you gain unique insights from large and confusing data sets.
  • Collaboration Skills: Because of the scale of data analysis projects, you will often be working on a sub-project of a much larger assignment. You must know how to collaborate effectively with teammates, allowing for easy brainstorming and cross-fertilization of ideas and ensuring coherence and consistency across the entire project.
  • Presentation Skills: Finally, an essential aspect of your job is communicating insights to key stakeholders. The insights you share will often influence business policy, so you must know how to use all the presentation and data visualization tools available to you to communicate these insights as clearly and accurately as possible.

Senior Data Analyst - Skills Required

Regardless of your specialization as you advance in your career as a data professional, the hard and soft skills discussed above will be fundamental to your success. However, as you progress to more senior roles, you will use the knowledge gained from your experience to take on more strategic and managerial positions. You will supervise analysts' team(s), determining workflows and priorities and allocating human and capital resources.

  • Technical Skills: Besides the technical skills discussed, you must be good at data storytelling. As a Senior Data Analyst, you will oversee many sub-projects, assemble them, and communicate findings to shareholders. Understanding how to use the techniques and tools of data storytelling will be critical to your success as a Senior Data Analyst.
  • Soft Skills: As a Senior Data Analyst, you will oversee people and processes. You will need strong project management skills to delegate tasks efficiently, and you will need leadership skills to direct and drive your team and get them through deadlines. You will also need to have excellent interpersonal skills. Learning to communicate problems, ideas, and solutions with people will be crucial to success in senior roles in the data analyst's career.

Want to know more about the Data Analyst career path? We did a full feature here

Getting The Skills Required By A Data Analyst

Now that we've covered the skills required for a successful career in data let's talk about how you can get these skills. There are three main ways you can get both the soft and hard skills needed to work as a Data Analyst:


For anyone with the time, discipline and ability to dedicate themselves to a routine, the internet is the world's most valuable resource. Many online resources, such as Youtube, can help you gain the foundational technical skills required to launch a career as a Data Analyst. The internet is free, so while this is the least costly option, it involves focus and commitment, and you will only be getting the hard skills part of the equation. You will have to find other ways to build your soft skills.

College Degree

Many colleges now have dedicated Data Analytic programs. However, many employers will also take candidates with a bachelor's degree in a related field, like statistics and computer science. A college degree that teaches you scripting languages like Python and Databases such as SQL or even Advanced Excel will provide a solid foundation for launching a career as a Data Analyst. It is, however, a very technical-focused learning method, so like self-study, there will be limited opportunities to build some of the soft skills you will also need to succeed as a Data Analyst.

Dedicated Program

Taking an immersive program dedicated to helping you launch a career in Data Analytics is one of the best ways to acquire a well-rounded education. It is also the quickest path for a young person just starting their working life and for mid-career professionals looking to make a switch. With an industry-aligned curriculum and expert tutors and mentors, our Data Analytics Programs - Full-time (8 weeks) and the newly announced Flex Data Analytics Program(18 weeks) will help you learn both the hard and soft skills required and be on your way to working in your new career as a data analyst.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do Data Analysts need to code? It is possible to begin a career without necessarily learning to code. The rise of advanced data management tools means you can carry out some of the core functions of an entry-level data analyst without writing a single line of code. However, learning a scripting language will help you advance your career. Knowing how to use languages to manipulate data and databases is a core part of the skills you will need to grow beyond the entry-level stage.
  • Is Data Analysis a hard or soft skill: As we've learned in this blog, working as a Data Analyst will require a combination of hard and soft skills. You will need the technical knowledge to manipulate and extract insights from large volumes of data. And you will also need the soft skills required to collaborate and communicate with other members of the broader organization.

Ready to jump in? Join the Data Analytics Program to launch your career into the stratosphere.