This guide to entry-level data analyst jobs explores what junior data analytics jobs involve, where to find them, and what skills and qualifications you’ll need to apply.
If you’ve ever considered becoming a data analyst, there’s no better time than now to get started on your new career path. Data analytics presents a steep learning curve, especially for beginners, but it’s also highly rewarding—both financially, and in terms of job satisfaction. However, since most entry-level data analytics jobs require some training before you can even think of applying, you might have some questions about the job market.
In this post, we’ll answer everything you could want to know about entry-level data analytics jobs. By the end, you should be informed enough either to start applying, or simply to take the next step in gaining the necessary know-how.
We’ll cover the following topics:
- What does an entry-level data analyst do?
- What kind of industries do entry-level data analysts work in?
- What kind of entry-level data analyst jobs are available?
- Some examples of entry-level data analyst job descriptions
- Where to look for entry-level data analyst jobs
- What skills and qualifications do you need to apply for (and land) an entry-level data analyst job?
- What is the average entry-level data analyst salary?
- Key takeaways and next steps
Ready to find out if data analytics could be the right path for you? Then, let’s dive in with our ultimate guide!
1. What does an entry-level data analyst do?
All data analysts—regardless of their experience level—are working towards a shared goal: exploring data and creating actionable insights that drive a business forward. Of course, the nature of these data (and the nature of the insights extracted from them) varies widely. This depends on everything from: your specific objective (sales strategy or product development?) the company you’re working for (start-up or giant multinational?), the sector you’re in (healthcare or finance?), and even your job description and line manager.
In general, though, the responsibility of junior data analysts is to carry out more ‘basic’ tasks. Important as these tasks are, they often stand alone as part of the wider data analytics process. This means they’re safer for entry-level data analysts to take on without presenting a risk of costly mistakes. If you’re working as part of a team (as many analysts do) you’ll likely be overseen by a more senior colleague. It’s their responsibility to keep you on track.
Taking all of this into account, what exactly does an entry-level data analyst do on an average day? Here are some entry-level data analytics tasks that might be expected of you:
- Collecting and storing data from various sources
- Carrying out exploratory data analysis (EDA)
- Learning to spot patterns and trends within a dataset (or datasets)
- Data cleaning and quality assurance, most commonly using MS Excel formulas
- Writing basic scripts, and refactoring code using the Python programming language
- Querying relational databases using Structured Query Language (SQL)
- Familiarizing yourself with your business domain (e.g. marketing, accounting, or product development) to better understand the organization and its objectives
- Dabbling with process automation (although this will usually be overseen or managed by someone more senior)
- Creating visual dashboards with graphs, tables, and other visualizations
- Producing and presenting reports and presentations of your findings
This list is by no means exhaustive, and your list of responsibilities will vary depending on the factors already described. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point. Is there anything on that list you don’t know yet? Then it’s time to get learning!
Learn more: What does an entry-level data analyst do?
2. What kind of industries do entry-level data analysts work in?
Now that we have a broad idea of what entry-level data analysts do, what kinds of industries can they work in? The good news here is that pretty much all industries you can think of employ junior data analysts. Data pervades all aspects of our lives—particularly online—and sectors as wide-ranging as finance and retail are utilizing the predictive power of these data.
However, the following industries are particularly active in the field of data analytics. If you’re looking for an entry-level role, any of these is a good starting point:
Within the insurance sector, risk analysis is an indispensable skill. Therefore, companies are constantly on the lookout for talented analysts. LV=, Allianz, and the Zurich Insurance Group are all common examples of insurance companies that employ entry-level data analysts.
In finance, data analytics plays a role in things like product development and sales strategies. It’s also used for fraud detection. Banks like Barclays, Bank of America, and Deutsche Bank, and companies like PayPal and American Express are always seeking talented analysts from around the globe.
Accounting and professional services
The world’s largest accounting firms make it their business to transform their clients’ operations. The ‘big four’ accounting firms (PwC, KPMG, EY, and Deloitte) have been harnessing big data for years. They specifically headhunt graduates for entry-level data analysts roles, because the nature of their work requires very specific training. They also offer plenty of career growth.
Within healthcare, data analysts use electronic medical records and pharmaceutical data to improve patient outcomes. They also use it in product design. Organizations like AXA and UnitedHealth Group Inc., and pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson or Roche have regular job openings for junior data analysts.
Of course, the big tech companies we all know are some of the better-known advocates of data analytics. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook are constantly seeking entry-level data analysts who they can train to work in the increasingly diverse areas of business in which they operate.
Beyond these sectors, industries like retail, IT, agriculture, education, and the sciences are always seeking junior data analysts, too.
3. What kind of entry-level data analyst jobs are available?
We’ve now looked at the sectors in which data analysts are most in-demand, but what jobs are available? Are there different options for getting your foot in the door? (Okay, that’s a leading question; the answer is yes!)
Data analytics internships
One way of gaining real-world data analytics experience is to seek out a data analytics internship. Large firms, especially, may take on students or recent graduates to give them a taste of what the role is like.
If you excel during an internship, there’s also the possibility of landing a full-time job. If that’s a path that appeals to you, why not seek out a company you’d like to work for and contact their chief data scientist or head of data analytics to see if they would be willing to take on an intern? Just one thing to be aware of: many companies don’t pay their interns. Personally, we’re not fans of this. But if you’re comfortable doing unpaid work to gain experience, then that’s your call. Nobody’s going to judge you for it.
Data analytics apprenticeships
If you don’t like the idea of an internship, then why not consider an apprenticeship? Many community colleges and other vocational training providers have links to their local business communities, allowing you to learn the necessary data analytics skills in the classroom before applying them in a work environment through an apprenticeship.
The great thing about apprenticeships is that they upskill you for a particular company while socializing you to the way the organization works. They’re usually paid, too, which is a bonus!
For higher-level skills, another option that’s growing in popularity is degree apprenticeships. These provide more intensive training (over years, rather than over weeks or months) and accompany this with one or more apprenticeship placements. This not only gives you more in-depth skills, but allows you to experience working for numerous different employers.
Other entry-level data analyst job titles to look out for
Once you start looking for entry-level data analytics jobs, be aware that the job titles are not always the same. They can vary a lot, depending on the industry and job description. Here are a few examples to look out for, and a brief description of what they do:
- Junior marketing analyst: Marketing analysts use data to understand a particular market, so that their organization can better position itself against competitors.
- Entry-level customer experience analyst: This role involves measuring customer satisfaction based on things like their purchases and past interactions with a brand.
- Novice healthcare analyst: Healthcare analysts use medical and pharmaceutical data to help create new products or improve clinical outcomes for patients.
- Junior operations analyst: Operations analysts help solve practical problems relating to the way a business is run (e.g. how different departments interact).
- Entry-level business analyst: A business analyst improves an organization’s internal processes, such as hiring or HR procedures, or project management.
- Junior sports analyst: A sports analyst has a cool job: they monitor, record, and analyze coaches and athletes, before suggesting ways to improve their performance.
- Entry-level risk analyst: A risk analyst uses data to weigh up the pros and cons of different business decisions (e.g. whether to insure a customer or not).
These examples offer some insight into the breadth of job titles you might come across. If a job title doesn’t indicate to you whether a job is entry-level or not, keep your eye on the responsibilities in the job description.
4. Examples of entry-level data analyst job descriptions
In this section, we’ll focus on two entry-level data analyst job ads taken from real job sites. One is for a small start-up. The other is for a large company you may have heard of! Let’s take a look.
Example one: Level 1 business analyst at a small start-up
The first job ad we’ll look at is for a level 1 business analyst at a small start-up based in California. The Bayen Group specializes in system integration, automation, and SharePoint development. If you don’t know it, SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform. It’s used in many offices for things like data storage and analysis, among other things.
Reading the job description and responsibilities, we can deduce that the ad is for an entry-level role. It specifically states that no experience is required. The job summary emphasizes skills like problem-solving, attention to detail, strong verbal and written communication skills, and so on.
For a data analyst role, there’s surprisingly little emphasis on data analytics itself. This reinforces the fact that, for junior data analyst roles, companies are far more interested in broader employability skills than in hard analytics know-how, which can be learned on the job.
Next, let’s take a look at the responsibilities:
As we can see, the job responsibilities also focus less on hard data analytics skills and more on getting to know what the company does, as well as how to support its clients and internal stakeholders. While working with a senior business analyst implies that you’ll get to play around with data, it seems that this is not the focus for this particular entry-level role.
Later, under the qualifications section, the ad requests knowledge of tools like MS Word, Excel, and SharePoint. With no mention of programming packages, this strongly suggests you will learn these skills on the job. Even without extensive technical skills, the salary is listed as being between $40,000-$50,000. This is perfectly in line with our average entry-level data analyst salary estimate, outlined in section 7.
Example two: Product analyst at a large company
The second job ad we’ll look at is for a London-based product analyst. The job is at Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service. This role requires more data analytics know-how than our first example, but it still fits under the category of entry-level role. We know this because the responsibilities section for the role is limited to junior data analytics tasks, which include:
- Developing and evolving dashboards for the organization
- Presenting findings at regular reviews with executive stakeholders
- Conducting in-depth analysis to reveal opportunities and risks
- Providing intelligence into competitive market dynamics
- Making recommendations based on data and business context
Next up, let’s look at the qualifications section:
Here, we can see that there is a greater focus on data analytics and tech skills than for the start-up job. Given that Google is a much larger company, this isn’t surprising—more competitive jobs require greater skills. Programming packages like Python, the ability to use SQL, and knowledge of statistics are all listed as entry-level requirements. Fortunately, these are all skills you can pick up from a good certified online course. This particular job ad doesn’t provide a salary estimate but, for a Google subsidiary, you can bet it’s pretty well-paid.
Even just from these two examples, we can see that there are different routes into data analytics. Aim for a big player like Google and you’ll have to put in a bit more work upfront to gain the necessary skills (i.e. a certified course or apprenticeship). But if you’re okay with a steeper learning curve on the job, then finding a position with a start-up might be better for you. Either way, you’ll learn a lot!
5. Where to look for entry-level and junior data analyst jobs
In the last section, we provided a couple of examples of real entry-level data analytics job descriptions. However, the best way to get a feel for different junior data analyst roles is to check out some job descriptions on your own. Research is a key skill for any data analyst, so you can consider this practice!
To help you, the following job sites offer many entry-level data analytics job openings (of varying quality). Just to note, we’ve specifically searched for ‘data analyst jobs’. Make sure you run a few searches of your own based on your chosen area of interest, e.g. business analytics or healthcare analytics:
- Entry-level data analyst jobs at Indeed.com
- Entry-level data analyst jobs at Glassdoor.com
- Entry-level data analyst jobs at Ziprecruiter.com
- Entry-level data analyst jobs at Linkedin.com
- Entry-level data analyst jobs at Monster.com
While these generic job sites tend to list a higher number of entry-level roles, it’s also worth checking out job boards more specifically geared towards data jobs. These tend to list more senior roles, but it can’t hurt to take a look. Here are a few to check out:
Next up, let’s look at what skills you’ll need to make it as a junior data analyst.
6. What skills and qualifications do you need to apply for (and land) an entry-level data analyst job?
In section 4, we mentioned that the skills you need to land a junior data analyst job depend on the company and job description. Smaller start-ups—which tend to emphasize a hands-on learning approach—may be willing to hire entry-level data analysts without a lot of practical experience or skills. Instead, you’ll be expected to pick these up on the job.
This being the case, what kinds of skills do these types of employers look for instead? In short, they’ll be seeking broader skills that demonstrate your ability and willingness to learn. For example:
- Decision-making and problem solving
- Creative and critical thinking
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Self-awareness and empathy for others
- Motivation and initiative
- Teamwork and leadership
- Reliability and resilience, e.g. ability to cope under pressure
More often than not, though, to land that first entry-level job, you’ll need to augment these ‘life skills’ with technical expertise. This is especially true of larger employers who will expect you to hit the ground running. In this case, you’ll most likely require:
- An undergraduate degree, ideally in a data or computer science-related subject
- Statistical programming expertise, e.g. Python or R
- Knowledge of relational databases and SQL
- Proficiency using MS Excel and its statistical functions
- Ability to create data visualizations, using software like Tableau
- Strong math and statistics skills
- Theory of machine learning and automation (a bonus, but not strictly necessary for entry-level data analyst jobs)
These are the types of proficiencies that most employers will be looking for. But, as ever, always read the job description first.
7. What is the average entry-level data analyst salary?
Now we can get down to the important stuff: How much do entry-level data analyst jobs pay?
Taking an average from U.S. entry-level data analyst salaries (according to job and salary comparison websites Indeed, Glassdoor, SimplyHired, Salary.com, Salary Expert, and Payscale) we can estimate that junior data analysts can earn about $46,000 a year in the U.S., which is pretty good for an entry-level job.
Of course, numerous factors besides your skill level impact how much you can earn, such as: the industry you’re working in, the location of the job, even the team size. You can get a feel for how much an entry-level data analyst can earn based on different variables in this post.
To find out what you might be able to earn as your career progresses, also check out this guide to data analyst salaries. It covers more general figures across the board, i.e. for senior and mid-level roles, and not just junior ones.
8. Key takeaways and next steps
There we have it—you’re now armed with absolutely everything you need to know about the entry-level data analytics job market! From what a junior data analyst does, to the kinds of sectors they work in, the skills you’ll need, and what you can expect to earn: we’ve covered it all in this ultimate guide.
While this post has focused primarily on the data analytics job market, there is much more to learn about the field of data analytics in general. To get started, check out this free, 5-day data analytics short course. It offers five lessons, each delivered daily right to your inbox.
You can also check out the following introductory data analytics topics to learn more about the subject: