Data analysts collect raw data and use it to extract and interpret information that helps organisations make decisions or address problems. A data analyst can help identify trends and make forecasts that are used to make strategic business decisions.
Data science is still a young field but almost every sector of business is confronting an enormous growth in data and wants that data to be analysed and interpreted. It takes a data analyst to do this. Data is used in myriad of ways – from making investment decisions, to marketing, to risk assessment. The need for organisations to work with, store, and secure data is growing exponentially and alongside it the need for employees with the skills to do this.
According to an article in Investopedia skilled data analysts are in great demand worldwide and because demand exceeds the supply of skills, entering this field almost guarantees a good salary, even without experience.
Data analyst vs data scientist vs data engineer
Within data analytics there are three fields - data analysis, data science and data engineering. Most data jobs fall into one of these three categories.
The difference between the three is as follows:
- A data analyst serves as a gatekeeper for an organisation's data, providing statistical insights and findings for strategic decision making. These technical findings are communicated effectively to a non-tech savvy audience"
- A data scientist, unlike a data analyst and a data engineer, is responsible for making strategic decisions that impact on the future of the organisation. They use data findings, in the form of statistics, to ‘predict’ or provide insights on the future, and how it will impact on the organisation.
- A data engineer builds the structure through which the data analyst and data scientist work. They check that all the data reaches the database through a data pipeline which is then worked on by data analysts and data scientists.
Careers available as a data analyst
From investment banks to the healthcare industry to marketing firms, almost every industry you can think of needs data analysts.
The same Investopedia article reveals a range of roles that are on offer for those with the relevant qualifications and skills, including:
- Business analyst
- Management reporting: reporting on data analytics to management
- Corporate strategy analyst: Analysing data and advising management on strategic directions
- Compensation and benefits analyst
- Budget analyst
- Insurance underwriting analyst
- Sales analytics
- Web analytics
- Fraud analytics
- Credit analytics
- Business product analyst
- Social media data analyst
- Machine learning analyst
What salaries can data analyst earn in South Africa?
According to Talent.com, the average data analyst salary in South Africa is R542 810 per year. Entry-level positions can start at around R300 000 per year, with experienced analysts earning up to R700 000 annually.
What qualifications and skills are required to be a data analyst?
To be a successful data analyst you need a fundamental understanding of Big Data as well as skills to make statistical analyses and problem-solve.
The purpose of The IIE Post-Graduate Diploma in Data Analytics is to undertake advanced reflection by means of systemic thinking, practices and research methods in data analytics. The programme aims to further development of fundamental knowledge in Big Data, data visualisation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and statistics.
On completion of the programme, graduates get the theoretical and technical skills in data analytics to inform business decisions and articulate into an appropriate Master's degree.
Since the aim of the qualification is to develop a data analyst equipped with theoretical, technical and practical knowledge, it is also important that graduates get a thorough grounding in statistical and mathematical fundamentals. The Statistical and Mathematical Analysis module l provides students with mathematical and statistical theory, concepts and practical knowledge which are required to interpret and interrogate data.
The IIE is South Africa’s largest registered and accredited private provider of higher education. At Varsity College, a brand of The IIE, we understand that no two students are the same or learn the same. That’s why we make sure a student’s education is shaped around them; how they like to learn, what they are passionate about, what makes them tick, and what makes them thrive. Our education by design approach allows students to grow into their best, and creates a space where they can live, learn and play - their way. To learn more about this IIE qualification click here