14 Skills Data Analysts Need for a Successful Career in 2021

By on

Click to learn more about author Ashok Sharma.

Do you want to be a data analyst? If so, great career choice!

Data analysts are in high demand: From technology giants like IBM and Microsoft to our favorite media streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime, organizations are increasingly relying on data analytics to make smart business decisions. Especially during the COVID pandemic, the dependency on data analysts has significantly increased.

What does it take to become a successful data analyst? Here are 14 skills you’ll need:

1. Data Visualization

You can’t climb a ladder if it is missing the first step. Similarly, you can’t be a data analyst if you don’t know how to gather data and create an interactive view to reveal a pattern in it. 

Why learn it: Data visualization makes it easier to detect trends and patterns in data. It helps in tweaking the process to ensure high performance. Data visualization also helps the audience focus on areas that require the most attention and creates an easy way for you to convey your findings to a non-tech audience.

2. Data Cleaning

Most data analysts spend around 80% of their time cleaning data. Hence, data cleaning is a crucial skill for aspiring data analysts. It is the process of fixing or removing incorrect, corrupt, incomplete, or duplicate data within a dataset.

Why learn it: Data cleaning can help you monitor your data and see where errors are coming from, thus making it easier to fix incorrect or corrupted data. It can also help you make quick and informed business decisions with accurate data.


Many companies are taking interest in the programming language MATLAB, as it allows data analysts to significantly reduce the time they spend pre-processing data and facilitates data cleaning, organization, and visualization. 

Why learn it: You can easily test, debug, and implement your data with MATLAB. It can also help you perform extensive data analysis and visualization.

4. R

R is one of the most used languages in data analytics. Features like built-in, easy-to-use data organization commands, and the ability to handle complex or large quantities of data, make it a preferred choice among businesses. 

Why learn it: Since R is open source, you can run it anywhere anytime. Being platform-agnostic, R can run on many operating systems. It also has a dedicated community that keeps providing bug fixes, code enhancements, and new features.

5. Python

Despite being around for more than 32 years, Python is still one of the most popular programming languages. 

Why learn it: You can automate the boring stuff with Python, thus saving manual hours. Since the syntax of Python is a lot similar to the English language, you can easily get started with it. Python is a highly sought-after skill in Data Science, and data analysts who know how to use it are generally paid well.

6. SQL

Database languages are a must for data analysts and SQL is the first step to get started. Although the language originated in 1970, it is still valuable today and used by almost every company. 

Why learn it: SQL and relational databases are everywhere. Once you master SQL, you’ll have a much better understanding of the apps you’re working on and the data you’re gathering on a daily basis. Learning SQL will also take your data visualization, modeling, and analysis to a whole new level. 

7. Microsoft Excel

With over 750 million users worldwide, Microsoft Excel is still a widely preferred choice among businesses. 

Why learn it: Microsoft Excel is easy to get started with. Truth be told, you don’t have to be a pro to use the tool. All you need is a basic understanding of data storage and management. You can easily learn Microsoft Excel – check out these books for Microsoft Excel learning and free videos on YouTube. Bonus: Microsoft is planning to automate certain features and commands for even better data analysis.

8. Data Management

While most companies have dedicated data engineers, database administrators, and data managers, there are times when data analysts are responsible for managing data in some capacity. 

Why learn it: Data Management can help you optimize data usage to make better-informed decisions that yield maximum output. 

9. Domain Knowledge

You can’t be a successful data analyst if you don’t have a basic understanding of things happening in your industry. For example, if you are someone who wishes to work in the IT field, you must be familiar with how software development works. Similarly, to work as a data analyst in the finance industry, you must know how finances work. 

Why learn it: You will have a better understanding of the data you gathered. This way, you can gather better insights and offer more value.

10. Data Wrangling

Data is of no use if it is complex and hard to decode. Hence, it is important that you must clean these complex data sets for easy analysis and processing. The process is called data analytics and it takes up a sizable portion of a data analyst’s job. Hence, it is a critical skill if you want to be a successful data analyst.

Why learn it: While most of us love data, not all of us are qualified enough to decode and understand it. With data wrangling, you can simplify your data and prepare it for literally any analytics.

Where Can You Acquire These Technical Skills?

Plenty of resources are available online to acquire these technical skills for the data analyst profile. From there, you can learn the basics or even go for certifications.

You can also check out the DATAVERSITY Training Center, which has courses for all professional levels.

However, just having these technical skills is not enough for landing a job as a data analyst. You also have to acquire some skills on the professional level and integrate them into your personality. Here are some such important personal skills every data analyst must have:

1. Critical Thinking

A data analyst’s role requires critical thinking. Just gathering insights is not enough. You must also know what to do with them. You must also be able to identify patterns, look critically at data from different angles, and see how it solves a particular problem. Being a critical thinker will help you look at a problem from a broader perspective and find solutions when others can’t. It will help you thrive as a data analyst.

While some people are born like that, others can acquire this skill by challenging themselves. Next time you face a problem, try looking at a problem from different perspectives. It will help you hone your critical thinking skills and come up with innovative solutions.

2. Communication

No matter how talented you are, you can’t thrive as a data analyst if you can’t communicate your findings to people. As a data analyst, you must be bilingual – meaning you must be able to speak with experts in terms of data and stats as well as simplify things for people who don’t understand data. Remember, complex data often confuses business-centered decision-makers. They prefer insights they can easily understand.

Good communication comes with practice. So, practice till you are comfortable and confident to speak in front of everyone. Know who you are talking to. It will help you adjust your message according to your target audience. Lastly, start speaking less and observing more.

3. Research

You can’t be a successful data analyst if you don’t like research. It is an integral part of a data analyst’s job. Data analysts often conduct research to evaluate processes and map out solutions to a problem. 

4. Attention to Details

“The devil is in the details.” This saying is well-suited for data analysts. Their job requires paying attention to little things. Missing out on the slightest chunk of data can result in costly mistakes. Hence, it is important for aspiring data analysts to have a precise focus and ensure they don’t miss anything crucial.


The path to becoming a successful data analyst is not easy. But it’s exciting, and the satisfaction you will have after gaining these essential skills and exceling at your job is worth the investment. So, embark on your journey – and don’t forget to share your experience in the comments.

Leave a Reply

We use technologies such as cookies to understand how you use our site and to provide a better user experience. This includes personalizing content, using analytics and improving site operations. We may share your information about your use of our site with third parties in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You can change your cookie settings as described here at any time, but parts of our site may not function correctly without them. By continuing to use our site, you agree that we can save cookies on your device, unless you have disabled cookies.
I Accept