(dat-uh uh-nal-uh-sis) (n.)
The practice of manipulating and interpreting data to reveal insights relevant to a company’s interests. Data analysts collect, sort, interpret and analyze sets of data to uncover or reveal relevant information. Some data analysts work as part of a team in charge of vast quantities of data. Others may work individually on behalf of a small company or department.
Entry-level data analysis requires a Bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or business. Some positions ask for education or training beyond the Bachelor's degree. Most data analysts participate in ongoing professional development to ensure that their skill set doesn't become obsolete. Data analysts are usually both accomplished mathematicians and also experts in the specific field in which they work. For example, a data analyst working in the information technology field needs a solid understanding of how an IT company does business and measures success.
Data analysts collect data using a variety of tools and methods, and they maintain and organize databases so that others can benefit from the stored information. In terms of technology, a data analyst is proficient with spreadsheets, databases, computer algorithms and programming languages. Excellent communication skills are also important for a data analyst.
The general role of a data analyst is to analyze risks to an organization and make forecasts about future trends. Data analysts help companies make savvy business decisions and avoid costly mistakes. As such, a data analyst may present the results of various analyses to others who may not have expertise in higher level mathematics.
The work environment of a data analyst is typically an office space with ample lighting and climate control. There are few, if any, physical hazards to the work of a data analyst. Good ergonomics are important to safeguard against eye strain or repetitive motion injuries from long hours spent at a computer station.