What Are The Required Skills for Entry-Level Data Analyst Jobs?

Entry Level Data Analyst Jobs
Which Skills Are Required For Entry Level Data Analyst Jobs?

Are there any required skills for entry-level data analyst job postings knowing that hiring managers are quite creative with their help wanted ads?

Keeping in mind that there is no “one size fits all” job requirement for data analysts or any information technology (IT) job, here are some of the more common skill requirements:

  • Number crunching, analytical or numerical skills & background
  • Reporting experience using Excel, Microsoft Access, Crystal Reports / Business Objects, SQL Server Reporting Services or any Graphing tool
  • Relational Database Design & Development with tools like MySQL, SQL Server, Microsoft Access or Oracle
  • A passion, interest, aptitude or background in number crunching or analytics

Many data analysts started out using Microsoft Access because it is a popular and versatile data analysis tool.

Microsoft Access provides a one-stop relational database, sql querying and reporting environment and it also provides data analysts with the ability to build a powerful graphical user interface (UI) for collecting data.

Which Data Analysis Tool Is The Best?

What matters is not the the knowledge of a specific data analysis tool but the what, when, why or how of data analysis!

In other words, tools will come and go, but the principles or fundamental techniques will stay.

So focus your efforts on learning data analysis and use the tools as a means to an end.

Which Data Analysis Tool Is Best For You?

Understand the fundamentals of data analysis well enough so that you can recommend one tool over the other.

This is important because your team or employer may have their own preferences but you as an individual should be comfortable with learning any tool you are presented with or recommending another tool that can do a better job … even when you haven’t used that other data analysis tool.

When To Use A Data Analysis Tool?

While some data analysis tools have a relational database and sql querying interface (e.g. Microsoft Access), others do not (e.g. Microsoft Excel).

And while some are good for tasks like data transformation and loading (e.g. Microsoft SQ L Server), others like not quite as good (e.g. Microsoft Access).

As a data analyst, you must be comfortable with analyzing the needs of your company and recommending the best data analysis tool based on the requirements of your project and your company’s budget!

How Are Data Analysis Skills Utilized On The Job?

A statistical degree may have been required for a data analysis job 20 years ago but these days, your database analysis, database development, Sql querying and Sql Reporting skills are even more important!

Because of the massive amounts of data, information and business insight stored in corporate databases, hiring managers are more concerned about a candidates ability to extract, transform, load or interpret business facts stored in relational databases or data warehouses.

With this information in mind, here are frequently asked questions and answers about entry level data analyst jobs.


I’m working in a regional management role in Retail Operations with a total experience of over 6 yrs.

I’m from a NON IT background (MBA in marketing) and I have been doing lot of data crunching in retail operations using excel.

I think this field of data analytics fascinates my and i’m considering making a career switch at this juncture.

Also I hear that data analytics has a good future but now, I am still confused because I’m looking for answers to the questions below:

  1. Would it be a right move?
  2. Would my NON IT background be a hindrance ?
  3. Are there any skills/certifications which i can do. i’ve recently taken a training for SAS base and advance.. what are the other such skills which i need to acquire?
  4. Most importantly.. what about the earning potential? At what level or position would i start and what would be the salary.

I feel that with my experience in retail operations i can move into the retail analytics domain… what are your comments?

I’m desperately seeking answers to these queries. I ‘m very hopeful that i would get all of them answered at this forum.

Are You Passionate About Data Analysis?

If you are passionate about number crunching and you already are working in some data analysis capacity … then you have every reason in the world to become a data analyst.

In my experience, being passionate about something and taking the time to get some real world experience along the same lines qualifies you for a real-world job in that industry.

If you love data analytics and you have a lot of experience in retail, crunching numbers with excel. You have one of the best reasons for switching to a data analysis career namely:

  1. You already have handson experience in the data analysis (retail industry).
  2. You are fascinated by numbers in the context of data analysis.

One of the best reasons for making a career change is finding a match between your passion and your day job … so yes … yes, don’t be confused, become a data analyst already!

Are You Qualified To Be A Data Analyst?

Your NON IT background is not a hindrance to getting a data analysis job.

But your lack of relational database and and/or SQL Query Writing skills may pose a real challenge because hiring managers want you to be comfortable with querying, researching or reporting directly from their databases instead of relying on a third party.

Learning SQL is not that hard. There are several free enterprise databases and you may download free versions of Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server directly from the vendors site.

What Is The Salary Of A Data Analyst?

The earning potential of a data analyst is as good as $70K+ (USD). Your exact compensation will depend on your negotiation skills and whether you are a full-time data analyst or a data analyst consultant.

Keep in mind that data-analyst consultants may earn as much as $90K or more because they bear more financial risk and they have traditionally less job security.

Your earning also depends on the industry you work in, keeping in mind that data analysts can work in a wide variety of jobs including:

  1. Database Marketing Jobs
  2. Report Writing Jobs – (Crystal Reports, Cognos Report writer, MS Access Report writer, SQl Report Writer, etc.)
  3. Data Research Analysts, Data Conversion Analysts, Data Quality Analysts, Data Integration Analysts Jobs
  4. Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) or Data Mining Jobs
  5. Traditional Database, Data Analyst or SQL Developer or Data Warehousing Analyst Jobs

Having a SAS certification or any certification may or may nor help you, depending on the job requirement …

But keep in mind that information technology jobs are performance driven … and regardless of your certifications, educational background or lack of it, you have to be good at your job and prove it!

Also keep in mind, that as far as IT Jobs are concerned, your past performance is the best predictor of your future job performance … so your handson domain knowledge / experience in the retail industry places you at an advantage in the job market!

One Response to "What Are The Required Skills for Entry-Level Data Analyst Jobs?"

  1. Sikka   December 15, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Is Prince 2 a good combination with other ISEB certifications


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