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Learn data analysis with online courses and programs

More data is being collected by organizations than ever before. To make meaning from data, organizations rely on data analysis to derive insights from extremely large data sets. Learn how to analyze data with online courses delivered through edX.

What is data analysis?

Data analysis is the process of extracting information from data. It involves multiple stages, including establishing a data set, preparing the data for processing, applying models, identifying key findings, and creating reports. The goal of data analysis is to find actionable insights that can inform decision-making. Data analysis can involve data mining, descriptive and predictive analysis, statistical analysis, business analytics, and big data analytics.¹

Those interested in a data analysis career can learn how to collect, process, and interpret data by taking a data analysis tutorial. Read more below on how to learn data analysis.

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Data analysis course curriculum

Professionals can learn data analysis through online courses, potentially even earning a data analysis certificate. Data analysis classes will vary based on the goals set by the provider, industry focus, and other factors. However, students can expect to learn foundational information such as: 

  • The full data analysis process, from data collection to sharing key findings.

  • Types of data structures, file formats, and data sources. 

  • Tools for gathering, wrangling, mining, and analyzing data. 

  • Data visualization for sharing data analysis findings with stakeholders. 

Aspiring data analysts may also need to learn how to use specific data analysis tools, which can be taught through different courses. Consider starting with the following key data analysis tools:²

  • Microsoft Excel: spreadsheet software that allows you to collect, clean, organize, and analyze data sets. 

  • Python: a programming language commonly used for data analysis. 

  • R: a programming language that can be used for data mining. 

  • Structured Query Language (SQL): a programming language used for managing relational databases, which can be used to analyze information within those databases. 

Those interested in specific fields may also consider taking an advanced data analysis course. For example, taking a big data analysis course can prepare data analysts to interpret large, diverse data sets to inform smarter business decisions.³ A learner may also be interested in a specific area of data analysis, such as bioinformatics, which focuses on analyzing biological data for scientific purposes, such as medical research.⁴ There are many data analysis courses focused in this area of study, in addition to other specializations.

Data analyst jobs

The functions of the data analyst are applicable at almost every type of business or organization. Their findings drive decision-making and help companies manage business operations, product development, competition, strategy, and more. The broad application of the data analysis role means there is a demand for experts in a wide variety of industries.

Data analysis job requirements can vary depending on the industry and type of role. Some professionals may seek a data analysis career through a bachelor’s degree program, while others may choose to learn data analysis through a boot camp program.  Examples of data analysis jobs include: 

  • Operations research analyst: Uses data analytics to help organizations make informed decisions on how to allocate resources, set prices, develop schedules for production and other operational functions.⁵

  • Market research analyst: Gathers and analyzes data to help determine what products and services are in demand, how to price them, and to whom to market the product.⁶

How to become a data analyst

There are multiple paths to becoming a data analyst. The required level of education may depend on the data analyst job and industry someone is interested in. Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in data science or a related field, while others may require a boot camp for data analytics. 

Anyone can learn data analysis, but certain traits can be helpful for roles in this field. Individuals who enjoy mathematics, computer science, statistics, and the research process may be a good fit for a data analysis career. To learn more about this subject, individuals can start with an introductory online data analysis course to see if it is a career path they’d like to pursue.

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