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Certified Data Analyst: Job Description and Certification Requirements

Data analysts are professionals who collect, maintain and troubleshoot problems generated from the storage of digital information. There are many certification options a data analyst can pursue, depending on what niche they wish to specialize in. Read on for a job description and the certification requirements of a data analyst.

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Data Analyst Job Description

A data analyst or database analyst works in the information technology field, assessing and organizing data generated from research, customer relations or business relations. They develop tools or software programs that present data in a useful format for business needs, have knowledge of relational databases, maintain data integrity or security and keep data management systems current.

A data analyst's skills are useful in any field that has a need of collecting and maintaining information. Some of the more popular fields that have need for data analysis include health information management, business analysis and financial data or economics.

Health information management uses patient data collected by physicians or clinical epidemiology to track diseases, overall health of populations and ensure better treatment of local patient populations. Scientists also must be knowledgeable in the manipulation of data they receive through research into reports that are easily readable and demonstrate findings legibly. Business management data analysts collect information gathered through surveys of customers or through financial data analysis in banking institutions and brokerage firms.

Certification Requirements

Though certification isn't necessarily required, it can open up more job opportunities as well as increase a candidate's salary. A bachelor's degree in a related field, such as statistics, mathematics or computer science, can substitute for some or all of the occupational experience needed to qualify for some of these certification exams.

Data analysts can become certified through several different organizations. Data Management International offers a certification exam to become a Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP). This basic certification is non-vendor specific and consists of three exams. Two parts test basic data management understanding and knowledge of information systems; the third and final exam is elected by the test-taker, depending on their area of expertise.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers some certification for a career in health information management, but those interested must have a combination of higher education and occupational experience. After they pass the multiple-choice three-hour exam, candidates become Certified Health Data Analysts (CHDA).

Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) also offers a professional certification program that demonstrates competence in the use of their software and provides training on its use to manipulate data--frequently used in businesses management, or interpretation of financial data. Basic certification is for SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9 and requires exam-takers to have previous experience with data files, generating reports, handling errors and other tasks. Exams last a few hours; candidates can prepare through SAS online training materials or through a professional, instructor-led training program.

Salary and Employment Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have salary or employment outlook information for the broad category of data analysts, it does provide that information for some related industry-specific job titles. For example, the BLS reported that database administrators, who are tasked with organizing and storing data, could see employment opportunities grow by 15% between 2012 and 2022. Database administrators earned a median salary of $78,520 as of May 2013, the BLS reported. In comparison, the BLS indicated a 19% growth for management analysts, and these workers earned $79,870 in median salary as of May 2013.

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