Data scientists and analysts use their technical knowledge to discover answers embedded in large data sets that can solve a variety of questions. But you don’t need to be a full-fledged data scientist to reap the benefits of becoming data literate.
“Data isn’t used in a vacuum,” says journalist Laurence Bradford in a Forbes.com article. “It touches many other roles, and those employees need the literacy to handle it effectively.”
A case study produced by the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF) emphasized the importance of becoming a data-enabled professional. “Companies of all sizes rely on data-driven decision making as a transformational component of their core operations,” the study reports. “They have defined a need for the data-enabled professional who can marry a deep background in a particular field (e.g., the arts, agronomy, economics, finance, health or business) with the ability to apply analytics and visualization tools.”
The Value of Having Data Analysis As a Skill on Your Résumé
When you put data analysis on your résumé, you signal to potential employers that you can solve problems. This key skill can help you in any career. A data analyst in Towards Data Science explains how they used data to identify and solve a project management problem. “Data crunching, business analysis and finding unique insights is a very essential part of management analysis and decision making,” the analyst writes. “There are several tools and techniques that are used. But what I have realized is that more than the tools, what is important is how you think and approach problem solving using data. I can’t emphasize how important it is to talk with data and have the skill to analyze it, visualize it exactly, which yields some insights.”
Becoming data literate also helps you communicate complex information. An article in SAS Insight makes it clear that enhancing your data-communication skills can help you in a variety of ways. “These communications skills are a vital part of any career,” the article states, “and with the added benefit of being a central part of an organization's decision-making processes, analytics experts often pick up strong leadership skills, as well.”
How to Employ Data Analysis to Your Work—Without the Data Analyst Title
You don’t have to be a full-fledged data scientist to take advantage of data-literacy skills. Many departments and positions can benefit from increased data knowledge.
Bradford says that with increasing automation “those in more ‘standard’ business roles need to understand what data is being collected, what automatic processes are being performed, and how that affects their individual roles and the broader company.”
A recent Indeed.com article lays out 18 skills that data analysts need to have—such as public speaking, data visualization, critical thinking and spreadsheets. Besides the usual technical subjects like machine learning and SQL, there are some softer skills that many employees already have such as domain knowledge (i.e., basic subject expertise) and project management experience.
How to Get Started
Take a basic statistics course. Statistics is the discipline of using data to solve problems. If you progress no further in your learning, you’ll still be able to apply these statistical concepts on the job and enhance your understanding of the world.
Take a Structured Program
Data professional Allan Miller is an instructor in our Certificate Program in Data Science. He sees all sorts of opportunities for data scientists, ranging from social science to pure theory. Allan refers to the field as a “spectrum,” morphing from business analysis to data analysis to data science.
We offer a variety of certificate programs that can help you on your journey to getting more data literate—no matter your field—or becoming a data professional.
Business success is one of the main drivers for data professionals and those who employ them. Data analysts look at the key performance indicators to quantify success, develop new businesses and markets, and hone day-to-day practices to overcome future challenges.
As a business analyst, your data expertise will help you contribute to the ongoing health of your company. As a business analyst, you most likely will be asked to present data findings to team members and associates who don’t have a data background. A course like Presenting Quantitative Data Effectively can be an asset in your career.
As a data analyst, you delve more into the technical side of data and work with larger data sets and apply more sophisticated analysis on the information. Even if your expertise is more centered on programming, the applications vary over a wide range of careers.
The complexity of the data sets and your analysis increases when you become a full-fledged data scientist. In this position, you will be delving deep into programming languages, such as R, that grew out of statistical analysis.
Discover Your New Career
Looking for inspiration? Data scientist Allan Miller has some words of advice. “I think a lot of people are attracted to this field because it's such a hot career area right now,” Allan says. “There's such a huge demand for it at the level of business analyst, data analyst and data scientist, so that's certainly a good thing. There's nothing wrong with getting a skill that you can earn a living on.”