4 Data Analyst Career Paths: Your Guide to Leveling Up

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Getting a job as a data analyst can open up a variety of exciting career paths, including data science, management, consulting, or specialization.

A data analyst in a blue sweater stands in front of his workstation holding a tablet

Getting a job as a data analyst is the first step in what could be a larger data career. So what happens after you become a data analyst? Let’s take a closer look at four common career paths you can take once you get started in this high-demand field.

Getting started: Entry-level data analyst jobs

If you’re new to the field of data analysis, your first job might be an entry-level role as a junior analyst. If you have some experience with transferable analytical skills from a previous job, you may be able to get hired as a data analyst.

Before applying for that first job, you’ll want to develop some core data analyst skills, including SQL, R or Python, data management, statistical analysis, and data visualization. Read more about how to become a data analyst, even if you don't have previous experience or a degree.

Leveling up: Four career paths for a data analyst

As you gain experience as a data analyst, you may encounter opportunities to advance your career in a few different directions. Depending on your goals and interests, you may progress into data science, management, consulting, or a more specialized data role. 

In this video, data professionals discuss the various career options you could choose to pursue as you continue to build your data skills.

Practicing data professionals talk about the various career options available in this field.

Let's take a closer look at four possible career paths you might take in the world of data.

1. Data scientist

Many data scientists start out as data analysts. Making this transition typically involves:

Many data scientists also have a degree in data science, computer science, or a related field. While a degree may not be strictly necessary, having one can mean more job opportunities.  

Start building the job-ready skills and tools you need for a career in data science, including Python, SQL, and machine learning, with the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera.


Read more: Data Analyst vs. Data Scientist: What’s the Difference?

2. Management

Another common career path for data analysts is to move into management positions. You might start out as a data analyst before advancing to senior-level analyst, analytics manager, director of analytics, or even chief data officer (CDO).

If you’re interested in pursuing this path, you’ll want to focus on developing your leadership skills alongside your data skills. In some companies, a master’s degree in data analytics or business administration with a focus on data analytics might be required to attain these higher-level positions.

3. Specialist

As a data analyst, you might work in one of many different industries. Sometimes, your career path might take you deeper into the specialized knowledge of that industry.

  • Business analysts use data to help make an organization’s IT processes, organizational structures, or staff development more efficient and effective.

  • Financial analysts use data to help guide investment opportunities, identify revenue opportunities, and mitigate financial risk.

  • Operations analysts are tasked with optimizing a company’s performance by identifying and solving technical, structural, and procedural issues.

  • Marketing analysts, also called market research analysts, analyze market trends to help determine product and service offerings, price points, and target customers.

  • Systems analysts use cost-benefit analysis to help match technological solutions to company needs.

  • Health care analysts use data from health records, cost reports, and patient surveys to help providers improve their quality of care.

4. Consultant

Once you’ve gained several years of experience analyzing data for a company (or several different companies), you can consider working as a data analytics consultant. Instead of working for a company directly, you’d work as a freelance contractor or for a consulting firm, conducting analysis for a variety of clients.

Working as a consultant often means more variety in the type of analysis you’re performing, as well as greater flexibility (particularly if you’re self-employed).

How much can you make? Data analyst salaries by role

Even entry-level data analyst positions tend to be well-paid. As you add years of experience and advanced job titles, salaries often go up accordingly. Here’s a quick look at the average base pay of different data analyst roles in the US in November 2021, according to Glassdoor:

  • Junior analyst: $53,417

  • Data analyst: $69,517

  • Senior data analyst: $96,809

  • Analytics manager: $121,232

  • Director of analytics: $147,147

  • Chief data officer (CDO): $189,480

  • Data scientist: $117,212

  • Business analyst: $77,218

  • Financial analyst: $73,725

  • Operations analyst: $61,457

  • Marketing analyst: $67,319

  • Systems analyst: $85,599

  • Health care analyst: $74,404

  • Data analyst consultant: $90,362

Get started in data analytics

Take the first step toward a career in data analytics with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate available on Coursera. Build job-ready skills in less than six months. Upon completion, you’ll have a shareable certificate for your resume, as well as the ability to start applying for jobs directly with Google and more than 130 other US employers.


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Google Data Analytics

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Written by Coursera • Updated on

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