What does a data analyst do?

what does a data analyst do

I've worked in analytics for 15 years as an analyst, managing analysts, and working with analyst in other companies.

Most people don't really understand what a real day in the life of a data analyst is like. As with most other jobs, there's a higher proportion of work unrelated to the core skills than you might expect.

While data analyst day to day work will vary some based on the company and specific position, there are some general themes that cover almost every position.

You might be surprised to learn that math/programming skills are often one of the less time consuming parts of what a data analyst or data scientist does regularly. Day to day work for a data analyst consists of 3 major things - processes, data, and math.

Watch the video or read on to learn what a data analyst does everyday.


When I talk about process, I’m not just talking about the analysis process, but the bigger picture of how you go from having a task or problem to communicating a solution. 

The major added value you bring as a data analyst is being able to understand the problem or desired outcome someone has and translate it into action.

The process part of data analyst work is putting together a puzzle and a story based on many different inputs.

You’re helping other people in the company make decisions and prioritize their work using the data.

Your process work on a day to day basis is going to involve talking with other people whether 1-1, electronically, or in meetings. This also involves how you communication or present the results and your analysis.

This part of the job is normally 20-30% of where your time is spent, depending on the role

Once the problem that you’re working on is clear, you can move onto the data part.


The data side of data analyst work is

  • Gathering the data
  • Understand the data
  • Cleaning the data 

This is the most time consuming part of the data analyst role.

You’ll spend 50%-80% of your time working with data, with much of that being spent on cleaning the data.

Understanding the data you have to work with and the problem you’re trying to solve or question you’re trying to answer is the heart of analytics work.


Once you have all the data you need - or at least whatever you’re able to get ahold of and use, then the math kicks in.

While there are some analyst positions that will be extremely math heavy, most analysts spend 10%-20% of their time actually doing math.

This part of analytics work is analyzing the data for trends or to make predictions. It also can involve optimizing your analysis so you can easily recreate it in the future.