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How To Become a Data Analyst With No Experience

6 minute read

By Katie Ormsby

  • Data analysts are highly in demand, and there aren’t enough job applicants with the necessary skills.
  • College isn’t the only way to learn those skills. In fact, online certification programs can be a great option.
  • Additionally, free data analysis courses are a way to learn the fundamentals before starting a program.

There’s no denying it: data analysts are in high demand. According to the World Economic Forum, data/AI is one of the top seven emerging fields, and demand for data analysts is expected to continue growing. Additionally, HPE says a recent survey of CIOs found data experts are both sought-after and challenging to find.

So, what does this mean for you? Opportunity. And here’s the thing: You don’t necessarily need experience or a degree to break into the field. In fact, free courses can help you learn the fundamentals. Keep reading to learn more about landing an entry-level data analyst job.

What Do Data Analysts Do?

According to CareerFoundry, “data analytics is the process of analyzing raw data in order to draw out meaningful, actionable insights.” Employers then use those insights to optimize their business and make smart decisions. In other words, data analysts:

  • Collect data
  • Analyze data to find trends
  • Create graphs and charts
  • Present findings to stakeholders

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what data analysts do, you’re probably wondering how much they make. According to, the average salary for a data analyst is $79,975.

Source: Shutterstock

Become a Data Analyst With No Experience

Even though data analysts need technical know-how, they don’t necessarily need prior experience or a college degree. As a matter of fact, Glassdoor says well-known tech companies like Apple, Google, and IBM no longer require college degrees for some top jobs. Instead of degrees, tech companies are increasingly emphasizing skills.

As the Harvard Business School puts it, “Competency is more important than credentials.” Employers are embracing this belief more and more, according to the Harvard Business Review. “Between 2017 and 2019,” the source says, “employers reduced degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill positions and 31% of high-skill positions.”

Source: Shutterstock

How to Become a Data Analyst in 5 Steps

Since more companies are making hiring decisions based on demonstrated skills, here are five steps that can help you start a career in data analysis:

  1. Take a free data analysis course: Aspiring data analysts can take free courses to learn the basics and make sure the field is a good fit.
  2. Earn a data analytics certification: After that, go more in-depth and get hands-on experience with a certification program.
  3. Join a data analytics community: Look into local data analytics groups in order to network and make valuable connections.
  4. Polish up your portfolio and resume: Include your best class projects in your portfolio and add your new skills to your resume.
  5. Search and apply for jobs online: Finally, start searching and applying for entry-level data analyst positions on job websites.

Next up: free data analysis courses for beginners.

Source: Shutterstock

CareerFoundry’s Data Analytics Short Course

Before investing time and money into a data analytics certification, a free course can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the career. For instance, CareerFoundry’s self-paced Data Analytics Short Course shows you how to analyze datasets to solve business problems.

The course is made up of five 15-minute daily lessons. Each of those lessons has a video introduction, written lesson, hands-on task, and interactive quiz. You’ll learn the basics of data cleaning, pivot tables, and presenting your findings.

Source: Shutterstock

OpenLearn’s Learn To Code for Data Analysis

Learn To Code for Data Analysis is another free course worth checking out. It’s available on OpenLearn, the Open University’s educational resource platform. In this course, you’ll learn how to clean and analyze data, make visuals, and write up your conclusions.

In addition to basic data analysis concepts, the course’s description says you’ll learn “how to write your own computer programs, one line of code at a time.” The course takes about eight weeks to complete if you spend three hours a week, though you can move at your own pace.

Source: Shutterstock

IBM’s Introduction to Data Analytics on Coursera

Introduction to Data Analytics on Coursera is a crash course in data analysis offered by IBM. It’s a 10-hour course for beginners that explains what data analysts do. The course covers the data analytics process, data analysts vs. data scientists, and how to analyze a dataset.

Since this course only takes about 10 hours, it can reasonably be completed during Coursera’s free seven-day trial. Coursera also offers the option to audit the class for free, but you’re required to pay for the course if you want to earn a certificate at the end.

Source: Shutterstock

Complete a Data Analytics Certification

Once you’re sure about becoming a data analyst, get serious with a data analytics certification program. Unlike a free course, paid certification programs typically go into more detail, provide guided support from instructors, and take months to complete.

CareerFoundry says, “Look for a course that will test your knowledge continuously with practical exercises, as well as focusing on project work and helping you build your portfolio.” Additionally, some programs provide mentors and a job guarantee. Research your options to find the right fit.

Next up: entry-level data analytics jobs to have on your radar.

Source: Shutterstock

Entry-Level Data Analyst

An entry-level data analyst collects, analyzes, and manages data. According to ZipRecruiter, “responsibilities often revolve around performing research on business or industry data to define trends or assess performance in a particular sector.”

The source says entry-level analysts often work hand-in-hand with other analysts and statisticians. Together, the team assesses the data and then creates a report and visuals to share with relevant stakeholders. The team’s findings can then help executives and managers make decisions.

Source: Shutterstock

Research Analyst

A research analyst also taps into the skills learned in a data analytics certification program. For instance, research analysts prepare market reports that can help business stakeholders make informed decisions.

First, they examine collected data to make sure it’s accurate. Then, they interpret the data. Career Karma says, “The main role of a research analyst is to study previous and existing market conditions to derive actionable insights to be used in formulating strategies for the future.”

Source: Shutterstock

Data Entry Clerk

This entry-level position is an administrative role. According to Indeed, the primary responsibility of a data entry clerk is to “ensure that the organization’s database is accurate and up-to-date.”

A data entry clerk’s everyday tasks include collecting and inputting data, periodically updating databases with new information, and preparing files and material for printing. Additionally, the source says a data entry clerk might help process invoices to support the accounting team. So, a data entry clerk may also take on bookkeeping tasks.

Source: Shutterstock

Entry-Level Business Analyst

Like data analysts, business analysts also provide data-driven insights that can help companies optimize their operations. However, “business analysts tend to focus more on recommending solutions for business needs, while data analysts work more closely with the data itself,” according to Coursera.

ZipRecruiter says as an entry-level business analyst, “Your particular tasks may include generating reports, performing detailed research and analysis, and assisting with solution development.” According to the source, an entry-level business analyst typically works on a larger team under more senior analysts.

Source: Shutterstock

Data Associate

Data associate is another position that uses the skills learned in a data analytics certification program. According to Springboard, data associates are “responsible for collecting data, managing it, and inputting it into the company’s software.”

The source says data associates often work in the healthcare sector. As a result, they’re commonly tasked with tracking clinical data. According to the source, they’re typically expected to be proficient in “Microsoft Excel, Oracle Clinical, and the organization’s data visualization tools.”

Source: Shutterstock

Katie Ormsby



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