Data analysts prepare data for use in decision making. To document how data lead to specific conclusions or yield answers to specific questions, data analysts prepare charts and other information graphics and design and develop databases to collect data. Data analysts also validate and model data to collate statistics.
Data analysts make information provided by numbers comprehensible, so that companies can make better business decisions to improve performance. Pricing, transportation costs and employee scheduling all produce data, which an analyst can parse and report on. In addition to using statistical tools, such as Statistical Analysis System and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, data analysts may also be required to use programming tools, such as Data Definition Tools Language and Data Manipulation Language SQL, and to write relational databases as well.
Because data analysis is so detail-oriented, it requires a wide range of skills. First, it requires close attention to detail to insure that data are accurately collected and imported. Good math and analytical skills ensure that the analyst can sift through large collections of figures and other data and spot trends, while good critical thinking skills help analysts draw new conclusions from their findings. In order to provide information in readily usable forms for varied audiences, data analysts must also have good communications skills.