Top 5 Skills For A Data Analytics Career & How To Build Them!

August 28, 2017 - 7 minutes read

It was named “the sexiest job of the century” by Harvard Business Review five years ago. Today, Data Science is to the world what Software Development was at the turn of the millennium – it’s the hot thing, it’s where the future lies, its where everyone with some Math and software leaning is headed.

India has 50,000 open positions for Data Analysts, according to a June 2017 study by Analytics India Magazine. More than 80% of Fortune 500 companies have either launched Big Data projects or are planning according to a New Vantage Partners survey.

Bestselling online courses from leading universities to launch your Data Science career

John Hopkins University A nine-course introduction to data science

University of Washington: Tackle Real Data Challenges. Master computational, statistical, and informational data science in three courses


Data Scientists vs Decision Scientists

There are technical roles and business based roles.

Data Scientists or Data Analysts take on technical roles using statistical and software tools to work and coax the data to derive patterns and insights from it.

Data Decision Scientists work with clients to identify business problems, on the one hand and with data scientists to find possible solutions, on the other. Their role is more of a Business Analyst identifying business problems and solutions that will work.

So what skills do you need to build a high-quality Data Science resume?

5 essential Data Science Skills and how to build these


1. Mathematical modeling

Whether you have studied Maths, Physics, Statistics or Accounting, what this field needs from you is the basic ability to use logical analysis. Some analysts specialise in creating mathematical models to represent the complex relationship between data variables. Other choose from existing models to fit the data they are handling. Either way, the ability to think in mathematical models is critical.

Two online courses from leading universities to learn Mathematical Modeling

Duke University: Master Statistics with R. Statistical mastery of data analysis including inference, modeling, and Bayesian approaches.

Stanford University: Probabilistic Graphical Models. Master a new way of reasoning and learning in complex domains


2. Computer languages to create and express algorithms

Python, Scala and R are the most used tools and languages used by Data Scientists – in that order. Most of these can be learnt through online courses over a couple of months if you can spend just 5-6 hours a week on learning these.

Top online courses from leading universities to learn these languages

University of Michigan: Learn to Program and Analyze Data with Python. Develop programs to gather, clean, analyze, and visualize data

Duke University: Excel to MySQL – Turn Data Into Value. Drive business process change by identifying & analyzing key metrics in 4 industry-relevant courses

John Hopkins University: Software Development in R: Learn to design software for data tooling, distribute R packages, and build custom visualizations

École Polytechnique Fédérale, Lausanne, Switzerland: Functional Programming in Scala


3. Data Visualisation

Can you illustrate your point simply? Analysts pitch their insights and recommendations to clients who share their data with them and this requires a whole new skill. A small hiccup could be explaining your approach and insights to clients who do not understand software or data. A real challenge would be dealing with clients who get woozy at the sight of a sigma sign. Data must be represented to make a point not to take clients through models and calculations. Infographics and data charts that highlight the insights rather than the data go a long way in bridging the client-analyst gap.


Best online courses from leading universities and industry experts

PriceWaterCoopers: Understand data, apply data analytics tools and create effective business intelligence presentations

University of California, Davis: Visualize Business Data with Tableau. Create powerful business intelligence reports


4. Communication Skills

Can you tell a story? As you move from technical roles mainly analysing data to more decision oriented roles – making recommendations based on data – you become something of a strategy consultant. You formulate and sell ideas and plan. You show clients compelling and exciting possibilities and draw out paths for them to reach them. You are a story-teller. Data Decision Scientists need to use language that is easy, precise and compelling to reach their audience.

Online courses from leading universities

University of Washington: Build English Skills for Business . Improve your ability to speak, write and understand English in professional settings

5. Business Acumen

As consultants trying to uncover patterns in data, Data Scientists need to know which problems to solve and how to find solutions that work. An understanding of business and being able to relate to changing customer tastes, product cycles and profitability goals is critical to finding truly innovative solutions.

Two online courses from leading universities to build Business Acumen

MacQuarie University, Australia: Problem Solving Skills for Business and Innovation. Learn how to analyze, evaluate, and solve complex problems from all disciplinary perspectives

Wharton Business School: Make Data-Driven Business Decisions. Achieve fluency in business data strategies in four discipline-specific courses

Data Scientists need much much more across their career than the ability to handle Data. They need to be business consultants who can formulate a business problem, mathematicians who can knead and coax data, analysts who can derive insights and action plans from the data, designers who can present the problem and its solutions in an impactful way and finally, story tellers who can communicate the essence and impact of the who Data Science exercise to customers and clients!


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Written By: Richa Dwivedi Saklani for