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Data analyst

Data analyst

An ideal career choice for the maths, statistics and data whiz, with excellent career prospects.
Forfás and the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs have pointed to the potential that Ireland has to create 21,000 jobs by 2020 in the area of data.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Data scientist
  • Data analytics officer
  • Digital analytics officer

Introduction

There is expected to be sustained and consistent growth in the area of data analysis and ‘big data’ in general over the next 5 years, as evidenced by the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) ‘Assessing the demand for big data and analytics skills 2013–2020’ report, published in April of 2014. The report highlights that 21,000 potential job vacancies could arise – comprising 3,630 for deep analytical roles and 17,470 for big data savvy roles. There would also be a further 8,780 potential job openings for supporting technology staff – as noted in the EGFSN report on ‘Addressing Future Demand for HighLevel ICT Skills’. Companies envisage that they will continue to need to recruit both experienced individuals and new graduates in these areas in the future.

What the role involves

Data analysis is all about collecting, organising, and interpreting statistical information to make it useful to a range of businesses and organisations. A data analyst is someone who scrutinises information using data analysis tools. The meaningful results they pull from the raw data helps their employers or clients make important decisions by identifying various facts and trends. A data analyst can also be known as a data scientist, data analytics officer or a digital analytics officer.

Some of the roles of a data analyst include:

  • Using advanced computerised models to extract the data needed
  • Removing corrupted data
  • Performing initial analysis to assess the quality of the data
  • Providing further analysis to determine the meaning of the data
  • Completing final analysis to provide additional data screening
  • Preparing reports based on analysis and present to management

How to pursue this career and development opportunities

The usual entry point is a degree in statistics, mathematics or a related subject involving maths, such as economics or data science. Other degrees are also acceptable if they include informal training in statistics as part of the course, for instance social science or informatic There is strong demand for qualified and experienced data analysts, but it can be a competitive field. You can gain a competitive edge by obtaining a master’s degree in a field like finance or statistics. Career progression prospects are good in larger companies and organisations.

What skills will you need?

Data analysts will require a high level of natural mathematical ability and very strong IT skills. Knowledge of coding system like SQL and Oracle would also be a huge benefit, as would be the ability to analyse, model and interpret important data. Data analysts need strong problem-solving competencies and a methodical and logical approach to their work with the ability to accurately plan work and meet deadlines. An exacting attention to detail is also a must, as is the ability to coordinate work with others and work effectively as part of a team, with excellent written and spoken communication skills, including report writing.

Typical employers

  • Banks
  • Specialist software development houses
  • Consulting firms
  • Telecommunications firms
  • Public sector organisations • Social media
  • Colleges and universities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Manufacturers Typical salary
  • Graduate/Starting €30,000-35,000
  • Senior/Potential €80,000

Typical qualifications

The usual entry point is a degree in statistics, mathematics or a related subject involving maths, such as economics or data science. Other degrees are also acceptable if they include informal training in statistics as part of the course, for instance social science or informatics.

WEBINAR: Basic Data Analysis

Cronan McNamara: Why is data important?