With so much to understand, learning data analytics can be frustrating.
But what if I told you that there are only a handful of important tools that you should prioritize?
Rather than overwhelm yourself and chase the new tool each week, master the foundations:
- A Business Intelligence Tool
- A programming language
1. Microsoft Excel
If you didn’t already know, Microsoft Excel has been the undefeated heavyweight champion in the analytics world since November 1987. It continues to be the most widely used tool for numerous reasons.
Even while some people will use Excel more frequently than others, it is still useful tool for creating reports and doing data analysis. While you can perform many data cleaning tasks in Excel, you can also use Power Query as well.
2. Any BI Tool (Power BI or Tableau)
The GIF is for entertainment only. You cannot go wrong with learning either Tableau or Power BI. But, a huge advantage in Power BI is their built in ETL (Extract, transform, and load) capabilities with Power Query. Unfortunately, doing major cleaning or transformations in Tableau without the added tools of Tableau Prep or Alteryx is not very ideal.
Once you learn how to use a tool, immediately put your focus on data storytelling and dashboard design. The weekly dashboard design makeover challenges make a great resource to accelerate these skills.
Check out these weekly dashboard makeover challenges to accelerate your storytelling skills.
Most often, an organization will have their data stored in databases. Making SQL a must know skill. Once you learn how to build the basic queries, transition into more advanced SQL such as:
- Window functions
- Datetime manipulations
- Query optimization
Expect to have your SQL knowledge questioned during a technical interview as well.
If you’re looking to improve your SQL skills check our weekly SQL challenges.
4. A programming language (Python or R)
Like the other one, this GIF is also purely for entertainment. You can build a great career with either tool. But, understand that python is more widely used which is why its more often recommended over R.
While you can do many things with a programming language, (analyze data, clean & transform data, etc), a major value add is your ability to automate processes.
If you build a dashboard, can you also create a process where it’s automatically refreshed with new data each week or month? The ability to automate tasks such as building a data pipeline, can decrease hours of manual work.
Out of every tool on this list, I would focus on a programming language last. As it can have the steepest learning curve.
If you’re looking for practice check out these weekly python challenges.
You may find this to be the most unexpected tool on the list. Slide deck and oral presentation skills are very underrated.
Expect to build and present slide deck presentations as you gain more experience. Where you will be exercising your presentation skills to influence decision makers in upper management.
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