How to become a data analyst: Megan's story

Meet Megan, 23, from Sheffield, and find out about life as a trainee business analyst. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"It wasn’t a smooth ride, but it was a fun one!"

Can you explain what your job is and the tasks you do day-to-day?

I’m a trainee business analyst for the NHS, which means I gather requirements for projects and initiatives. I work with the team involved in a project or piece of work that requires IT involvement, to establish what they want to achieve and work with them and the rest of the team to make this a reality.

As part of this, there is an element of reporting and analysing this information to support tasks and business activities. The teams I work with can include anyone such as Executive and senior managers in a community or ward environment.

Testing equipment is another important part of my job and I check that IT systems are working the way they should. We work with developers and database administrators, who help us if anything needs changing.

What skills do you use?

I use a mixture of technical and business skills. Technical skills are required for testing equipment and systems. The business skills include timekeeping and collaborating with colleagues.

I also use communication skills. I work with a range of professionals who have different levels of experience with IT systems, so I have to be able to adapt and explain things at different levels.

I studied programming and project management at university and I'm using these skills in my job, for example for planning a project from beginning to end.

Megan uses skills she learnt in programming and project management modules at university.

Is this a job you always knew you wanted?

Honest answer? No.

I didn't complete my A-levels and instead started working as an NHS business and administration apprentice when I was 16. I've been able to progress into the job I'm in today and I'm so glad I decided to go for it.

I had to apply to my university course separately so I could do my job and training as a package. It wasn't a smooth ride but I'm glad I went on the journey I did to get here.

Top tips

  • There's no 'right path' to a job
  • Research which options are available to you at every level
  • You won't know until you try. I never thought I'd be working in IT because I didn't think I was good at it, but now I love my job!

What to expect if you want to be a data analyst

Megan works in the NHS, but there are many other careers that require similar skills. In general, data analyst statisticians identify trends, create models, collect numerical information and present results.

  • Data analyst salary: £23,000 to £70,000 per year
  • Data analyst working hours: 37 to 39 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a data analyst

  • Typical entry requirements: You'll usually need a degree or postgraduate award in Statistics, Maths, or Economics. There are other subjects that can include statistics as part of the course, for example Social Science or Geography, but you will have to check the course structures. Some university courses offer an industrial placement or sandwich year, which allows you to work in industry or commerce as part of your studies. This could be useful when you look for jobs after you finish your course.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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