Are Statistics Or SQL Skills Required In Data Analyst Careers?

Are Statistics or Sql Skills Required For Data Analyst Jobs?
Are Statistics or Sql Skills Required For Data Analyst Jobs?

This post answers a question about the educational training requirements for a Data Analyst Career.

If you have a Burning Question or a Challenge that you need help with, Click Here To Ask Your Question and I will answer it fully just as I am answering the question below!

Is Statistics / Sql Required For Data Analyst Jobs?

I have a degree in Statistics and I am finding it hard to get a data analyst job even though people from other backgrounds are able to get data analyst jobs.

If you have not studied statistics or you do not have a mathematical background, how could you analyze data accurately?

I know that there is a difference between presenting data in charts and graphs interpreting data

I have seen that firms employ data analysts who do not have statistical or data mining training … so how can they make the critical decisions needed?

In college I learnt how people without statistical training make errors when they attempt data analysis. However, in the “real world” I see database developers making those same mistakes!

Do I have to become a database developer to become a data analyst?

Here is my Answer to the Career Question:

Yes, your observation is right. There is a difference between learning statistical data analysis in college and becoming a data analyst!

To understand why this difference exists, you need to look at the data analyst hiring process from the Employers’ point of view and not from a “Statistician Looking For Work” point of view!

From the employers’ point of view, your statistical skills may not be adequate for the work at hand because the data you will be analyzing resides in relational database management systems (RDBMS) which you may not be skilled in querying even though you have a statistical college degree!

You actually have to be comfortable with accessing or manipulating data stored in relational database management systems without asking for help from sql developers or database administrators!

The Gap Between Data Analyst College Education and Data Analyst Careers

Sometimes there is a gap between the statistical courses taught in colleges and the real-world data analysis job descriptions posted by hiring managers.

In college, data analysts are often trained to rely on tools like SAS, Excel or Statistical Data Analysis skills only.

In the real world, employers are looking for a combination of data collection skills, relational database design and development skills, data quality skills, data standardization skills, sql data manipulation skills and sql data definition skills and data analysis skills.

The statistical data analysis part is needed along with strong relational database software system skills

The Gap Between College Education And Real-World IT Careers

In the Information Technology (IT) Industry, there are usually gaps or differences between college courses and real-world IT Career Job Postings.

For example there is a gap between:

  1. Getting an MBA and Becoming a Business Analyst

  2. Getting a Computer Science Degree and Becoming a Computer Programmer

  3. Getting a Statistics Degree and Becoming a Data Analyst

Getting a Statistics Degree in college does not necessarily give you an advantage over someone who directly transitions into the data analysis career by first getting the database development skills or hands-on sql programming experience required for careers in data analysis!

So, even with your background in statistics, you still need to get the additional database skills, sql skills skills and hands-on data analysis experience required by hiring managers for data analyst careers.

The Direct Path to Becoming a Data Analyst

The direct path to becoming a data analyst includes getting a combination of statistical skills, data analysis skills and database skills.

So, the requirements for a data analyst career include:

  1. Database Development Skills

  2. SQL Programming Skills

  3. Statistical Skills

  4. Data Analysis Skills

If you only have statistical skills and you don’t have relational database management skills, you may not be qualified for an Information Technology (IT) data analyst job!

So, my recommendation is that you get strong database development skills and strong SQL skills because these are both required in data analyst job postings along with Statistics Data Analysis skills


The of hiring Data Analysts is usually done by IT Managers are more familiar with the value of database development skills or SQL programming skills than they are with Statistical tools.

So, if you really want to get hired as a data analyst, I suggest that you get as comfortable with databases and SQL as you are with Statistics!


I suggest that you read these articles to get additional background information:

  1. How to Become a Data Analyst

  2. How to Become a Data Analyst or a Report Writer or a Database Developer

  3. The Data Analyst Job Role

This post answers the question “Are Statistics Or SQL Skills Required In Data Analyst Careers?”.

If you have a Question about your career, Post IT as a comment on this page and I will be sure to answer it for you!

5 Responses to "Are Statistics Or SQL Skills Required In Data Analyst Careers?"

  1. Bushra Wasim   April 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Guidelines On How To Become A Good Data Analyst

    I studied Statistics on an academic level and now I want to use it for data analysis and research purposes but do not know how to utilize my statistical techniques for market researches.

    I need your guidance on how to improve my statistical skills.

  2. Nayan Gupta   May 6, 2010 at 7:08 am

    hey thanks for such a wonderful insight into the topic . Even I was confused before reading this . I am also an Undergraduate student in Statistics currently in third year .

    I want to become a data analyst . I am efficient in C /C++ and applications of algorithms . I want to ask Whether I should go for SAS / SPSS first or for SQL and databases !!!!!

    waiting for reply !!!!! 😀

  3. Pingback: Your Opinion Counts - What Makes A Good Data Analyst?

  4. jonathan mukundu   June 1, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I just read through the article entitled ARE STATISTICS OR SQL SKILLS REQUIRED IN DATA ANALYST CAREERS?.

    Kingsley was really to the point in this article. I have a Bsc in Mathematics with statistics myself. In most if not all organizations data is kept in relational databases. Even in a research based organizations like National Statistical Offices where surveys are done using statistical packages like SAS,SPSS,CSPRO etc, Data is best kept in a relational database especially if one is to analyse the data across many surveys

    In short Databases are the best Data storage tools while Statistical packages and spreadsheets are best at number crunching. To be effective with Databases you need to know SQL
    So, a combination of Databases skills and Statistical skills makes a good Data Analyst.

    I would therefore encourage all Statisticians, Monitoring and Evaluation Officers, planning officers, Economists etc to learn Databases and SQL.

    • Kingsley Tagbo   June 1, 2009 at 9:23 am


      Thanks for independently verifying this information … I am going to publish it 🙂


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