Data analysts collect, interpret and analyse data in order to help their organisation make better decisions.
They use a range of tools and methods to scrutinise data and interpret patterns and trends, allowing their employer to get a clearer picture of what’s happening within their business.
This gives senior staff the insights they need to refine and maximise the efficiency and profitability of the company.
This guide features a full data analyst job description and covers everything you need to know about data analysts, from candidate requirements and typical employers, to salaries and career prospects.
- Data analyst job description
- How much do data analysts earn?
- What does a data analyst do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs data analysts?
- Which junior jobs progress to data analyst roles?
Data analyst job description
Data analyst | Health Solutions UK
About Health Solutions UK
We are proud to be one of the UK’s biggest wholesalers of pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products in the UK; putting patients at the heart of everything we do and helping people across the country live happier and healthier lives.
About the role
We are looking for an experienced data analyst to join our team. Reporting to the head of data, you will be responsible for collecting and processing complex data, producing insightful reports and presentations to drive business change, as well as implementing strict data quality processes across the board.
- Collecting, interpreting and analysing customer, marketing and financial data
- Identifying trends, patterns and consistencies to help shape our future direction
- Creating detailed management reports and presentations to tracks KPIs and delivery
- Breaking down complicated datasets into easy-to-digest dashboards for the wider business
- Carrying out research sessions to find data that supports the needs of the business
- Spotting anomalies and erroneous entries within data sets
- Adhering to data policy and regulations and ensuring all campaigns are compliant
Location & commitments
- Full-time, permanent role based at our modern head office in central Birmingham
- 35 hours per week; 9am to 5pm with one hour for lunch
- Overtime may be required occasionally during busy periods
- 1+ years experience of analysing and evaluating complex data sets (university placements are accepted)
- Working knowledge of at least one of the following languages: SQL, Python, C++, Java, R
- Advanced Excel knowledge (this will be tested at interview stage)
- A clear, logical analytical and methodical approach to problem-solving
- Minimum 2:1 in a relevant degree subject i.e. Maths, Economics, Business, Computer Science, Engineering etc.
- Knowledge of visualisation development methods and tools, such as Cognos, SSRS and Power BI
Contact us to apply
If you’ve got an appetite for learning and would like to develop your skills as part of a forward-thinking and results-driven team, please contact our recruiter, Molly Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org
Attach your CV and a short cover letter, telling us why you would be a great fit for our data team!
How much do data analysts earn?
The financial rewards for a career in data analysis can be high, with the average data analyst salary weighing in at an impressive £42,500.
Data analyst salaries in the UK
- Low: £31,000
- Average: £42,500
- High: £57,500
Data analyst salaries will vary hugely depending on;
- The industry of the employer – For example, data analysts working in scientific and technical services generally earn more than data analysts working in the manufacturing field, although this isn’t set in stone.
- The size of the employer – Larger companies tend to offer higher starting salaries in the data analyst field.
- Type of data being analysed – E.g. financial data, consumer information, government figures etc.
- General salary factors – Such as level of experience and location.
For example, a senior data analyst working in a pharmaceutical company in London, will normally earn more than a graduate data analyst working in the public sector in a small regional office.
Do consider that these are average income figures taken from job advert samples and do not include other benefits such as bonuses, overtime and non-financial benefits, like healthcare.
What does a data analyst do?
Breaking down the job description, the typical tasks and responsibilities of a data analyst may include:
- Collecting data – Collecting and mining data from a company database and external sources
- Cleaning data – Cleansing unstructured, messy or ambiguous data into user-friendly data sets
- Analysing results – Using statistical tools, alongside analytical and logical skills, to analyse and interpret data, in order to determine what it means of the business (e.g. does it indicate falling profits, increase of costs, decrease in customer spending etc.)
- Identifying patterns – Pinpointing trends, patterns and correlations in complex data sets
- Spotting anomalies – Identifying data which doesn’t fit normal patterns to highlight errors and issues
- Managing data systems – Monitoring the storage, availability and coherence of all stored data
- Creating data visualisations – Translating raw data into clear and concise images, charts and graphs for senior member of the business to easily comprehend
- Preparing reports – Summarising and presenting data in clear, concise and actionable reports for meetings and marketing material
- Carrying out surveys – Designing and conducting surveys to develop new data sets, before analysing the results
- Troubleshooting – Troubleshooting and resolving complex data issues within company systems
- Determining goals – Working with management and relevant departments to determine the organisation’s data goals
What do data analysts need?
Data analysts require a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience in order to secure a role and carry out the job to a high standard.
The specific requirements will inevitably vary from role to role, depending on the job seniority and industry. However, generally speaking, here’s what’s needed:
Junior/graduate data analyst roles can often be gained without any prior experience, as long as the candidate possesses a relevant degree and the right skills. With that being said, entry-level jobs in data analysis can be competitive, so those who’ve completed an internship or placement during their studies will be at a significant advantage.
Intermediate to senior data analyst jobs will normally require candidates to have previous experience in a full-time data analyst role, though the number of years expected will vary. Companies may sometimes prefer industry-specific experience, too — for example, an insurance employer may seek a data analyst with 3+ years of data analysis experience within the insurance industry specifically.
Data analyst skills
In order to perform well in data analysis role, candidates will usually need to have the following skills:
- Written + verbal communication: Creating accurate written reports and communicating complicated data to non-tech professionals in a clear and understandable manner
- Presentation: Confidently presenting insights, ideas and reports to a live audience
- Numerical + mathematical: Comfortably working with numbers, such as mathematical modelling and statistical calculations
- Programming languages: Knowledge of computer programming languages like SQL, Oracle and Python
- Microsoft Excel – Excel is one of the most widely used data storage and analysis tools, in business –other similar tools include SPSS and SAS
- Problem solving: Troubleshooting and fixing problems in algorithms and data
- Attention to detail: Pinpointing small clues and errors in tedious and hard to read data
- Teamwork: Collaborating with numerous departments and stakeholders to understand business goals and objectives
- Technical knowledge: General technical prowess and the ability to get to grips with new tools, platforms, systems and technical theory with ease
Data analyst qualifications
As data analysis is a highly technical field, a relevant degree is often required in order to gain access to the field. Additionally, there are numerous additional qualifications that will help data analysts to perform better in their role. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common:
A degree is, more often than not, an essential requirement for junior and graduate data analyst roles. Degrees in the following subjects will help graduates leave their studies with the statistical and technical mindset required for the job:
- Computer science
- Business information systems
- Information management
Gaining a postgraduate or masters degree in data science, business analytics, data analytics or big data will also help data analysts to gain advanced analysis skills and progress faster within the field.
BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT
The Chartered Institute for I.T offers a range of certifications in specific tools and frameworks, as well as the opportunity to become chartered. Chartered status will allow data professionals to boost their profile, evidence their knowledge against industry standards and demonstrate their capability to employers.
The Open Data Institute
The ODI is a learning programme that aims to provide data literacy and capability, allowing professionals to use data to make better decisions. They provide a range of free courses, all of which can help eager graduates and seasoned data analytics alike to improve their data analytics skills and boost their employability.
With demand for data professionals on the rise, many universities and specialist data schools now offer short courses and training in the field — many of which are free!
As well as being a great CV-booster for entry-level data analysts, these courses can help established data professionals to develop and diversify their skills in order to perform better in their roles.
Some of the most popular include:
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
- SAS Visual Business Analytics
- SAS Programmer Professional Certificate
- Microsoft Professional Certificate in Data Analysis
- General Assembly Data Analytics Course
What is expected of data analysts?
Typically, data analysts will be expected to commit the following:
- Full time hours – Roles are generally full-time, with an expectation of 35 – 40 hours per week with 9am to 5pm hours
- Possibility of overtime – Some employers may expect overtime during busy periods or big projects
- Location – Normally based at an office, though senior data analysts are increasingly working remotely
- Occasional travel – Some roles, especially consultancy roles, may require occasional travel
Data analyst benefits
Data analysts are in high demand and usually receive a generous benefits package, including perks like:
- Discretionary bonuses
- Pension scheme
- Private healthcare
- Car allowance
- Corporate discounts
Who employs data analysts?
As data is becoming increasingly vital for businesses across all sectors, employment opportunities are diverse and varied.
Job security within the field is strong, with demand for workers with specialist data skills having more than tripled over five years, according to a report by the Royal Society.
Employment is available in large companies, such as financial services and consumer retail firms, as well small and medium-sized organisations across the private and public sectors.
Typical data analyst employers include companies within:
- Professional services
- Marketing and advertising
- Information technology
- Consultancy firms
Which junior jobs progress to data analysis roles?
Data analyst jobs are open to entry-level job seekers with a relevant degree, meaning it’s possible to enter the profession without any prior experience. The roles available include:
Data analyst graduate schemes
A huge number of graduate schemes are offered at larger companies, including RBS Accenture, Virgin Media, PWC and Sky. While the roles vary, graduates generally gain a broad range of data skills, including data science, visualization and modelling. Naturally, those on a graduate scheme move into a permanent data analyst role upon completion. Smaller companies tend to offer entry-level roles to graduates, too — but they may be less structured than a formal graduate scheme.
Data analyst apprenticeships
For those without a degree, data analyst apprenticeship opportunities are on the up. With various levels of apprenticeship available, apprentice data analysts will gain a mix of on-the-job experience and training, allowing them to move into a permanent data analyst role within one to four years.
Which senior jobs do data analysts progress to?
While data analysis is a well-paying career in its own right, the career does come with plenty of opportunity to progress into senior and management-level roles. As data skills are so transferable, there are countless options available — but here are some of the most common moves:
Senior data analyst
With experience and a passion for the field, data analysts can progress into senior data analyst and data management roles in a relatively short space of time. These roles normally come with the added responsibility of overseeing junior and entry-level analysts and ensuring the whole team is working to company standards.
Specialist data analyst
Some project managers progress into specialist data positions, such as an education, product, scientific, quantitative or IT systems analyst. Additionally, it’s possible to specialise in a specific technical language, such as Python or SQL. Due to the expertise required, specialist data analyst roles normally offer a higher salary.
Data scientist or engineer
In addition to analysing data, data scientists construct new processes for data modelling and tend to be more advanced in machine learning, statistical models and programming. Data scientists earn significantly more, and with a few years of experience and professional development, making the leap from analyst to scientist is achievable.
Experienced data analysts also have the opportunity to work on a self-employed, freelance basis, where they’re paid project-to-project. Due to the high fees on offer, combined with the increased flexibility and the option for remote working, this is a popular route of progression for data analysts.
Data analyst job description – conclusion
In the modern day world, a career in data is a safe, secure and lucrative career option.
The use of data in business is set to grow considerably, meaning demand for data analysts is on the up and salaries are well above the national average.
Additionally, opportunities are available for graduates and non-graduates alike, with the career path offering fantastic opportunities for progression.