How to Become a Data Analyst without a Degree

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn how to become a data analyst without a degree, including the type of work you'll do, the skills you need, and what it takes to progress in your career.

[Featured image] A young woman sits at a laptop and participates in a video chat with a mentor explaining how to become a data analyst without a degree.

Data analysts are in high demand as organizations seek out skilled professionals who can capitalize on the vast amounts of data accessible in today's world. Fortunately, if you’re interested in this profession, you can seek this job without a degree. By pursuing a career as a data analyst, you are opening yourself up to job opportunities in virtually all industries, including technical services, finance, manufacturing, government, and more.

Although data analysts are highly skilled, you can still become one without a degree if you can equip yourself with the abilities for the role. If you choose this profession, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects an average of 17,700 positions within this sector to be available during this decade [1].

Read on to explore some paths you can take to become a data analyst and the skills you need to acquire along the way.

What does a data analyst do?

Data analysts collect, organize, and process data to identify patterns and trends within the data that you can then use for several purposes, such as improving processes, making strategic business decisions, and solving problems. Here’s a closer look at some common job responsibilities in this role:

  • Data collection: You collect data from different sources. This can include surveys, Google Analytics, social media, and more. As a data analyst, you can also set up tools to help automate these processes for gathering data.

  • Data interpretation: Once you finish analyzing the data, you then interpret the results and create visualizations and reports to share these conclusions with decision-makers in the organization.

  • Process improvement: You might also work to improve the overall process with the help of data scientists, engineers, data architects, and company leadership. 

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

Salary and job outlook

According to Glassdoor, data analysts in the US can earn an average base salary of $75,974 per year [2]. However, your earning potential may be influenced by factors such as the industry you work in. Some industries offering above-average pay for data analysts include financial services, information technology, and energy. You can also increase your salary by continuing to sharpen your skill set in areas such as data mining and predictive modeling while also earning certificates.

The field of data science, which includes data analysts, offers a positive job outlook as well, with opportunities only expected to continue growing in the coming years, featuring a projected 35 percent increase from 2022 to 2032 [1].

Read more: 4 Data Analyst Career Paths: Your Guide to Leveling Up

How to become a data analyst without a degree

Without a college degree, you should establish a clear path toward reaching your data analyst career goals. This includes developing several technical skills and workplace skills to qualify for the job and understanding your options for how to develop those skills. 

Read more: How to Become a Data Analyst (with or Without a Degree)

1. Determine the relevant skills and requirements for your job goal.

Data analytics offers a variety of positions in different fields, so identify what you need to know to succeed in your career choice. Industry-specific knowledge and expertise can help separate you from other candidates because you will be able to discuss these subjects with potential employers. For example, as a marketing analyst, your role will involve skills for performing research on market trends and conditions to gain information about consumer habits.

2. Build technical and workplace skills.

To become a data analyst with no degree, you will have to find ways to develop all of the necessary technical and workplace skills for the job. Outside of a degree program, you can attend boot camps, earn certifications from Google, IBM, or Amazon Web Services, or take online courses to develop key technical skills in SQL, data visualization, and Python.

Remember, although technical skills are extremely important, you also need to develop workplace skills such as critical thinking and communication. Being able to share and explain your findings coherently to non-technical people is crucial to your success.

Read more: 7 In-Demand Data Analyst Skills to Get You Hired

3. Gain work experience.

An internship can help you gain relevant work experience and advance towards a data analyst position. You will have a chance to practice the skills you’ve learned while acquiring a deeper understanding of working in the industry. From here, you can work towards starting in an entry-level role, leading you to a junior-level data analyst position.

Read more: How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

4. Build a resume or portfolio. 

To demonstrate your skills and experience to potential employers, you can build a portfolio to include with your job application. Your portfolio needs to contain examples of projects where you performed analysis, created visualizations, and showcased any relevant data-analytic skills. As for your resume, you can include specific keywords such as “Python,” “predictive analytics,” or “data mining” to ensure it passes through applicant tracking systems so employers see it.

Read more: How to Build a Data Analyst Portfolio: Tips for Success

5. Reach out to recruiters or professionals

You can improve your chances of finding a job by putting effort into networking. Focus on developing contacts with people within the industry who could help you get in touch with hiring managers, or maybe they can simply provide you with information about working in the industry. 

Read more: 9 Networking Tips to Expand and Strengthen Your Network

Required skills for a data analyst

To prepare yourself for success as a data analyst, you will need to obtain certain technical and workplace skills. Here’s a look at some important data analyst skills.

Technical skills

Workplace skills

  • Critical thinking

  • Presentation skills

  • Communication

  • Collaboration

  • Attention to detail

  • Leadership skills

Data analyst career path

As a data analyst, you can expect to begin in an entry-level role. As you gain experience, you can transition to a junior data analyst job title and pursue opportunities as a senior data analyst. You may have opportunities to get more specialized titles, such as business analyst or other related data analyst positions, including data scientist, health-care analyst, data engineer, financial analyst, and more.

Here are some average base salaries of different data analyst roles in the US:

  1. Data scientist: $129,774

  2. Health care analyst: $76,116

  3. Data engineer: $106,903

  4. Financial analyst: $79,822

  5. Marketing analyst: $75,631

  6. Database administrator: $106,020

  7. Business analyst: $87,844

  8. Logistics analyst: $72,304

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of March 2024.

How to progress in your data analyst career path

To take your career to the next level, it’s important to continuously learn in this space to stay up to date with the latest skills and tools through online courses, as this career is constantly evolving. Doing so can also increase your pay.

You also may consider earning a degree later in your career if it helps create opportunities for advanced positions. Lastly, growing your network and making connections throughout your career can benefit you. This will allow you to grow and learn from those with experience and find more job opportunities.

Get started with Coursera.

If you're interested in pursuing a career as a data analyst without a degree, consider taking courses on Coursera to gain entry-level job skills. Introduction to Data Analytics from IBM covers data analysis process steps, types of data structures, what data professionals do, and more. You can also earn a Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate to develop in-demand skills in SQL, R, Tableau, and other valuable data analyst abilities while earning an employer-recognized Professional Certificate.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Data Scientists,” Accessed April 9, 2024.

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