Data Analyst

Job Description:

Data analyst-statisticians collect numbers and statistics to identify trends, create models and present results.

Job Category:
IT Industry

What you will do:

Your work as a data analyst could be used in a number of areas, like:

  • local and national government
  • market research (public sector or government)
  • business, finance and insurance
  • crime analysis and forensics
  • education

In the public sector, you’ll work for government agencies, research councils and universities.

Working for the government could involve collecting, analysing and publishing information on population trends, the economy, the labour market, transport or crime. The information you produce would then be used to advise ministers, and inform the press and the wider population.

In other industries or sectors, you might be involved in:

  • looking for trends and patterns to help companies make business decisions
  • analysing market research and trends in consumer feedback
  • opinion poll analysis
  • predicting demand for services or goods
  • checking quality control standards in areas like drug and food testing

Data scientists have similar day-to-day responsibilities as data analysts. However, there are some key differences:

  • data analysts curate meaningful insights from existing data, whereas data scientists will predict the future based on past patterns
  • data analysts solve questions given by the business, whereas data scientists ask their own questions, based on solutions that are likely to benefit the business
  • data analysts tend to look at data from a single source, such as the CRM system; data scientists use data from multiple disconnected sources


You’ll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • the ability to analyse, model and interpret data
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent written and spoken communication skills, including report writing
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to work on your own (ambition/drive)
  • concentration skills
  • strong problem-solving & numerical skills
  • a methodical and logical approach (organisational skills)
  • a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Data Analyst, you don’t need specific subjects, but a strong foundation in certain subjects and skills can be advantageous in preparing for this career. Data analysis is a field that requires strong quantitative and analytical skills. Here are some relevant subjects:

  1. Mathematics (Maths): Strong math skills are essential for data analysis. Take advanced math courses, if available, as they can provide a solid foundation for statistical analysis and data interpretation.
  2. Statistics: Courses in statistics can be particularly beneficial, as they teach you key concepts and techniques used in data analysis.
  3. Computer Science or Information Technology (IT): Basic computer science or IT courses can help you become proficient in using data analysis tools and programming languages like Python or R.
  4. Science: Science courses, especially those involving data collection and analysis, can provide you with valuable scientific reasoning skills that are applicable to data analysis.
  5. English Language: Effective communication skills, both written and verbal, are important for presenting your findings and collaborating with colleagues.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a graduate training scheme

You’ll usually need a degree or postgraduate degree in:

  • statistics
  • mathematics
  • economics
  • operational research
  • psychology

You may be able to apply for jobs if you have a degree in a subject that included statistics as part of your course, for example, social science or geography.

Courses that give you the chance to spend a year in industry or get work experience through placements, internships or real business projects may give you an advantage when you are looking for graduate jobs.

You may be able to start by doing the equivalent of a T Level in Digital Business Services. This could give you some of the skills you need to apply for a trainee position with a company.

You could start in a junior data analysis role through a data technician advanced apprenticeship.

You could go on to complete a data analysis higher apprenticeship or data scientist degree apprenticeship.

If you want to work in health data analysis you could do a medical statistician degree apprenticeship.

You can develop your professional skills and gain real work experience by helping community organisations and charities. For example, in the UK, with the Royal Statistical Society.

Other Routes
In the UK, the Government Statistical Service (GSS) takes on trainee statistics graduates through the Civil Service fast stream programme. You’ll need a good pass at degree level to apply.

The GSS also directly recruits graduates and people with relevant experience into positions like statistical officer.

The Royal Statistical Society runs a volunteering scheme, which gives you the chance to gain experience by using your skills to help organisations in the community and charity sectors.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually be office-based, but might travel to other locations to collect data.

You’ll usually work around 37 to 40 hours a week, and occasionally longer to meet project deadlines.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress into management, move into academic research or work as a freelance consultant.