Is Data Analytics Hard?

Or really- is it hard to *become* a data analyst?


6/1/20243 min read

So, it is hard to become a data analyst? Or, importantly, is it hard to become a data analyst? This is the question I had when I decided to become a data analyst in 2022. Now, I have an answer to both questions. Yes- and no.

Let me explain.

Is It Hard To Become A Data Analyst?

If you had told me how much work it take me to become a data analyst before I started, I probably never would have started. I fell for the marketing tactics of the Google Certificates Course in Data Analytics that I would learn everything I needed to know from the course and emerge job-ready.

It did no such thing. It gave me a great foundation, but there was a lot of work still to go between finishing the course, and getting a job. However, it did one key thing- it showed me how enjoyable data analytics is.

Before I took that course I thought data analytics would be like those classic stereotypes you see about programmers - sitting in a hoodie in a dark basement, crunching unrecognizable lines of code. I just wanted to learn how to use Excel better.

But then, to my surprise, I found that I loved learning and doing data analytics. I loved Excel, I loved SQL, I loved Tableau, and I even loved R!

Learning the technical skills that I needed to know to become a data analyst was, admittedly, tricky. I had to engage my full brain in order to understand subqueries in SQL, and learning to make a dashboard in Tableau that looked nice made me think about design and data in ways I never had before.

But was it hard? Personally, no. I found that the Google Certificates course structured the learning really well, and although the learning was challenging, it was also engaging. I did not ever hit a wall of “no, this is too hard, I will never understand this”.

After taking that course I discovered Maven Analytics. If I had to do it all over again, I would have just started with a subscription to Maven instead of Coursera for the Google Course. Maven’s courses do a great job at teaching every technical skill you need to know to become a data analyst - in again, a challenging but fun way. I found their courses are more in-depth and informative than the Google course was.

So, if learning the technical skills you need to become a data analyst is not hard, then it’s not hard to become a data analyst, right? Not quite. The hardest part about teaching yourself data analytics is that gray zone between when you learn a skill in a course, and then getting a job. That gray zone consists of:

  • Figuring out all of the other things you still need to do in order to get a job

  • Figuring out how to do all of those other things

  • Taking the skills you learn and applying them to portfolio projects on real data

  • Putting together a nice looking portfolio, and figuring out what needs to be in it

  • Optimizing your LinkedIn

  • Optimizing your resume

  • Learning about the stages of data interviews

  • Figuring out how to pass and ace the different stages of data interview

  • Networking in person and on LinkedIn

  • Learning how to sort through hundreds of random and poorly-written “for entry-level data analysts” before finding the few that are a actually for entry-level

  • ….. And many other little random things.

Figuring out how to do allllll of that, on my own!? Now that was hard. Fortunately for you, you do not have to figure this out all by yourself. There are so many amazing resources out there to help you, and I will link to everything I have created at the bottom of this newsletter.

To be honest, the struggle I went through to make it through that “gray zone” without giving up entirely is what inspired me to write my book “How to Become a Data Analyst”, as well as create my Coffee Chats series with other data analysts on YouTube. They are exactly what I needed when I was in the gray zone.

But how about being a data analyst? How hard is that? Well, stay tuned for next week, where I will share how hard it is to actually be a data analyst. I will talk about my day-to-day job, as well as the overall, more zoomed out view of how “hard” my first job as a data analyst was, and how hard my second job is currently!