Certified Data Analyst: How to Become One, Salary, and More

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

As a certified data analyst, you can work in various industries with the potential for a competitive salary and career progression. Learn more about data analyst careers.

[Featured image]  Three data analysts review data on several report sheets in a large white room with two other analysts in the background

If you enjoy working with data to clarify issues and solve problems, you might consider a career as a data analyst. But, while data analytics is a rapidly-expanding field with plenty of job opportunities, it can sometimes be difficult to stand out from the crowd when you're just starting out or trying to get to the next stage of your career

Enter data analytics certification. As a certified data analyst, you'll possess a credential that can demonstrate your preparedness for a potential role, continuing education efforts, or a unique skillset you may possess.

In this article, you'll learn more about what it means to be a certified data analyst, common task they perform in the workplace, and how much they earn. Later, you'll explore how to become a certified data analyst yourself and find suggested, flexible courses that can help you grow toward your goals.

What is a certified data analyst?

A certified data analyst is a data analyst who has completed a certificate or certification program. These data professionals help organizations reach their goals by collecting, reviewing, and analyzing large amounts of "big data." Their primary job is to find patterns or trends in data so that organization can set goals and develop a plan to improve their performance.

There are two ways to becoming a "certified" data analyst: (1) by completing a certificate program, such as Google's Data Analytics Professional Certificate, which indicates that you've completed a particular course of study; or (2) by successfully completing a certification exam, such as the one you must take to obtain Microsoft's Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification, which indicates your ability to work with a specific set of tools, protocols, or professional frameworks.

In other words, to become a certified data analyst you either need to complete a job-relevant educational program that awards a certificate upon completion or take and pass an exam that tests your competency with specific data analysis tools or skills.


As a data analyst, you'll be tasked with analyzing data to identify trends and patterns that equip organizations with the actionable insights they need to make strategic decisions. While your day-to-day tasks will vary from one organization to another, some common responsibilities include the following:

  • Apply statistical models to analyze data

  • Create data visualizations to convey findings to stake holders

  • Build and maintain databases

  • Collect and organize data

  • Clean data

  • Communicate findings

  • Review and analyze data

  • Search data sets for patterns and trends

  • Use tools to display data

Read more: Data Visualization: Definition, Benefits, and Examples

Certified data analyst salary and job outlook

As a key part the rapidly growing field of data analytics, data analysts are both well-paid for their skillset and in high demand from employers.

According to Glassdoor, data analysts earn an average base salary of $76,964 a year in the United States [1]. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), meanwhile, projects that the number of jobs for data scientists – the job category under which data analysts fall – will grow by 35 percent between 2022 and 2032. That's significantly higher than the just 3 percent growth projected for all jobs in the country during the same period [2].

Adding to this rosy outlook, research from the U.S. BLS also indicates that certification can have a positive impact on a worker's earning potential and employment rate [3,4]. This means that certification may both increase your earning potential as a data analyst and also your competitiveness within the job market.

Related jobs and their salaries

Data analysts possess a unique skill set that could prepare them for a variety of other positions. At a glance, here are some of the jobs that some certified data analysts may also be able to pursue:

Note: Pay data is taken from Glassdoor and represents annual base salaries for each position as of February 2024.

Data analyst work environment

From marketing and sales to social media and investment banking, you can find data professionals in almost any imaginable field.

According to the US BLS, these are some of the industries with the highest concentration of data scientists: computer systems design and related services (13%); insurance carriers and related activities (9%); management of companies and enterprises (8%); management, scientific, and technical consulting services (7%); and scientific research and development services (5%) [2].


How to become a certified data analyst: step-by-step guide

To become a certified data analyst, you must build up the skills to conduct data analysis. Then, you'll need to deepen your ability to work with specific tools and protocols that align with your role. Below, we explore these steps in greater detail, so that you can have a sense of what to expect on your professional journey.

1. Obtain a job-relevant credential

Although it's possible to get a job as a data analyst without a college degree, many data professionals have a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, statistics, or economics. However, some employers prefer candidates who majored in data analysis rather these related fields.

In some cases, you may be able to qualify for an entry-level data job by completing a data analyst certification program. In that sense, the fastest path to becoming a certified data analyst is to complete a certification program. Nonetheless, keep in mind that many employers prefer candidates with a college degree, so lacking one may impact your available job opportunities.

Read more: What Degree Do I Need to Become a Data Analyst?

2. Deepen your data analysis skills

To prepare for a career in the field and develop the expertise you'll need to pass various certificate exams, consider building the following skills:

  • Critical thinking: Data analysts must be able to look at large quantities of data and decipher patterns while predicting future trends. This skill can help you look at things from multiple perspectives to see the bigger picture. 

  • Communication: Not only do data analysts have to be able to review and analyze data, but they also must effectively communicate their findings to their superiors. Communicating your findings to others in a way they can understand is essential. 

  • Data visualization: Being able to take large amounts of data and conceptualize it in a digestible manner is essential to the work of a data analyst. This includes learning how to choose appropriate visualization charts for specific audiences. 

  • Mathematics: Data analysts work closely with numbers and data trends, making math an essential skill in your tool belt. 

  • Microsoft Excel: Excel is a spreadsheet software commonly used in data analytics. Proficiency with this software can appeal to potential employers and help you in your day-to-day work as a data analyst. 

  • Query languages: Data analysts' most common query languages include SQL and SAS. You use these languages to give computers instructions for collecting and analyzing data.

  • Programming languages: knowledge of various programming languages, such as R and Python, can be helpful with data visualization, cleansing, and analysis.

Read more: 7 Skills Every Data Scientist Should Have

3. Gain work experience

Work experience is a great way to hone your skill set as a data analyst. In fact, many certificate exams either recommend or actually require that you posses a certain amount of professional work experience to take the test.

Early career professionals may consider gaining an entry-level data position or pursuing an internship. These kinds of experiences can help you build job critical skills that matter to employers and certificate programs.

Read more: Entry-Level Data Analyst: What They Do + How to Get Started

4. Pursue certification or a certificate

You can choose from various certificate programs available to aspiring data analysts. Here are some certifications and certificates that you might consider exploring: 

  • Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate 

  • IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate 

  • Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification

  • AWS Certified Data Analytics certification

  • SAS Statistical Business Analyst Professional Certificate

  • Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate 

  • CompTIA Data Analytics Plus certification

Read more: 6 Popular Data Analytics Certifications

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5. Explore data analyst jobs

Once you have your certifications, it’s time to start looking for jobs!

As previously mentioned, data analytics is a rapidly growing field with a high demand for workers, so you should be able to find a job that suits your wants and needs. However, consider what different data analyst roles will offer you in terms of growth and career progression. 

You may start your career in an entry-level position where you can develop your programming and data analysis skills before moving to more advanced positions. Understanding the career progression of a data analyst, as you see below, can help you decide if it's a field you want to pursue.

  • Data scientist: This non-specialized field typically comes after an entry-level data analyst position. Data science will enhance and advance your knowledge of basic programming, mathematics, and machine learning skills to increase your overall confidence in analytics. 

  • Specialist positions: Specialists work in more specific data analytics or science fields like health care or finance. Moving to a specialist position will allow you to develop a particular expertise after building a more general foundation. 

  • Management positions: More than anything else, these are leadership roles. Management positions are more demanding than other data analyst positions and, therefore, may require a higher level of education or additional certifications. 

  • Consulting positions: Have you ever wanted to be your own boss? If yes, consulting might be where you want to go. In a consulting role, you could work with various clients in different fields of expertise, mainly working freelance in a flexible, less specialized manner. You will need several years of experience to develop expertise in general analytic fields to do this work. 

Ready to learn more about data analytics?

It's never too early to start building your skill set if you want to pursue a career as a data analyst. Learn more about the field of data analysis and the work data analysts do in Introduction to Data Analytics from IBM. Or you may be ready to pursue certification with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate available on Coursera.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Data Analyst Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/data-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,12.htm." Accessed February 14, 2024.

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