How to Start a Career in Analytics for Free?

Introduction Word Cloud

What & Why Analytics?

Analytics is defined as the scientific process of transforming data into insight for making better decisions. It helps improve processes, saves cost and enhances revenue.

Although analytics has been around for a long while, it wasn’t until the last 5 to 10 years that its importance in the business field has been realized. It was in the last 10 years that technology has been revolutionized and we now produce about 2.5 Quintilian bytes of data every day. What has also changed in the last decade is that we now have the means to sift through these 2.5 Quintilian bytes of data in a reasonable amount of time, with little cost to store it.

  • 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last 2 years. The same data is predicted to double every 18 months from now on
  • In 1990, cost of storing 1GB data = $9000 (cost of a car)
    In 2010, cost of storing 1GB data = 8 cents (cost of a lollipop)

In organizations, analytics enables professionals to convert extensive data and statistical and quantitative analysis into powerful insights that can drive efficient decisions. Therefore with analytics organizations can now base their decisions and strategies on data rather than on gut feelings. Thus with powerful insights, analytics promises reduced costs and increased profits.

  • The analytics Industry is one of the fastest growing in modern times, poised to become a $50 billion market by 2017.
  • With this sudden surge in the analytics industry there is a tremendous increase in the demand for analytics expertise across all domains, throughout all major organizations across the globe.
  • It has been predicted that by 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

Who Can Get Into Analytics?

There is no dedicated undergraduate degree for analytics as it is combination of various fields. Hence, no degree in itself can guarantee a career in analytics. However, Engineering or Statistics/Maths degrees are preferred but not necessary.

Pros:   Almost any undergraduate can apply
Cons: Tough Competition due to high number of applicants

Data Scientist
*Note: Designations like data scientist, business analyst, data analyst and consultant are used interchangeably by different organizations.

How to Prepare for a Job in Analytics?

Scenario 1 : On-Campus Jobs

Selection of applicants in this case is less technical and more focused on the following skills:-

  • Structured Thinking
  • Attention to Details
  • Numerical Skills
  • Problem Solving Capabilities
  • Communication Skills
  • Knowledge of Undergrad Discipline

Interview Process is as follows:-

  • Round 1 – Aptitude Test
  • Round 2 – Group Discussion/Video Synthesis
  • Round 3 – Technical (Puzzles, Guess-Estimates, Case Studies, Undergrad Questions)
  • Round 4 – HR

If you are from a tier-1 institute then there are a good number of companies offering analytics related roles like data scientist, business analyst, data analyst, consultant and so on. Interview preparation (as mentioned above) is pretty standard and abundant information/resources can be found on the web.

However, for tier-2 and tier-3 institutes very few and sometimes no company offers such roles. The only reason is that the number of applicants is so high that they need to filter out candidates.

Scenario 2 : Off-Campus Jobs or Shifting Jobs Early in your Career

My story falls under this category so I would want to describe how I went about things. I only intend to share an approach that worked well for me:-
  • I have done engineering from tier-2 institute and very few companies offered analytics related roles on campus. Not that I was too concerned with placements, not until the companies actually started pouring in.
  • After initial carefree years, every final year student has to decide what he/she really wants from life. I was no different, confused as to what I really wanted to do. I did give GRE (getting a good score) but soon dropped the idea of pursuing MS as I had no inclination towards a particular subject. I dropped the idea of giving the MBA/MTech entrances as well.
  • I sat for Accenture and got placed as an Associate Software Engineer. As the job situation in the market was pretty tight, once placed, we were not allowed to sit for other companies coming on campus. I applied for other companies off campus but could not even manage to get interview calls from most of them. With thousands of people applying for the same position, I was in no way better than them.
  • So on 26th August, 2014 I started working in Accenture. I liked my work but this is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, neither did I want to pursue Post Graduation without an aim in mind. I did not want to get into a trap just to run away from one.
  • Two months after joining I started reading about analytics on the net. I started reading blogs, watching videos on YouTube and going through work profiles of people in it. The more I read about it, the more it fascinated me.

Is this something that I like?  Yes

Is this what I really want?  Don’t know

Is this something that I would be good at?  Can’t say

Should I start applying to other companies?  Considering the above, don’t think so

Should I introspect and apply after a few months?  Yes, seems like a good option


  • Around this time I was first introduced to the concept of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). It is a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people. So I had the access to analytics courses offered by world’s best universities for free. It was as if I had struck gold. I could work on these courses after office hours and during weekends without compromising on my job work. For the next 8 months I not only completed these certification courses but also participated in online competitions, became part of professional communities and read various blogs/articles.
MOOC

 MOOC that I had completed:-

  1. https://www.edx.org/course/analytics-edge-mitx-15-071x-0
  2. https://www.edx.org/course/data-analysis-take-it-max-delftx-ex101x
  3. https://www.coursera.org/course/datascitoolbox
  4. https://www.coursera.org/course/rprog
  5. https://www.coursera.org/course/getdata
  6. https://www.coursera.org/course/exdata
  7. https://www.coursera.org/course/interactivepython1
  8. http://academy.hubspot.com/inbound-certification
  9. https://www.coursera.org/course/statistics
  10. https://www.udacity.com/course/intro-to-descriptive-statistics–ud827
  11. https://www.udacity.com/course/intro-to-inferential-statistics–ud201
  12. Classroom/Virtual Training’s in Accenture

Competitions that I had participated in:-

  1. https://www.kaggle.com/
  2. https://www.crowdanalytix.com
  3. http://discuss.analyticsvidhya.com/

Blogs that I followed:-

  1. http://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/
  2. http://www.datasciencecentral.com/
  3. http://www.kdnuggets.com/

Communities that I am part of:-

  1. http://www.meetup.com/Data-Science-Delhi/
  2. http://www.meetup.com/New-Delhi-R-UseR-Group/
  3. http://www.meetup.com/AC-DEL/
  4. http://www.meetup.com/Predictive-Business-Analytics-with-R-New-Delhi/

What happened after I finished my preparation:-

I started applying to companies for roles like data scientist/analyst/statistical modeler and so on (It’s the work profile that matters and not the designation as designations can be misleading). I got calls from many companies and in almost every interview I did well.

I had developed the industry knowledge by reading blogs/articles and being part of professional communities, technical knowledge by doing MOOCs, hands on experience by completing MOOC assignments/projects and online competitions and most importantly developed the confidence that I was the right candidate.  It’s amazing what you can do in an interview when you’re confident about yourself.

Ultimately I had a few offers to choose from.  I chose to shift into Accenture Analytics after a round of interviews.

Accenture Analytics

Summarizing on “How to Prepare for a Job in Analytics”:-

  • Interview Process – Every company has its own interview process as I had described earlier. Some are rigorous and some can be cracked more easily. Prepare for them in advance.
  • Internships – There are analytics companies willing to hire you as an intern. Not only will you learn a lot but it reflects well on your resume.
  • MOOC – It provides you with wealth of knowledge and hands on experience. Do not complete it for the certifications. I was never asked to show even a single certificate for over a dozen of interviews. If you can convey what you learnt from such courses, it’s more than enough.
  • Projects/Competitions – It’s best when you can show your work in form of a project or some competition. Its gives credibility to your knowledge and skills. Create a Github account and put all your work there.
  • Professional Communities –When you’re part of professional communities you meet loads of people having similar interest and you get to learn a lot. I have mentioned a few of the communities that you can join.
  • Reading Blogs and Articles – It widens your horizon. As it is a gradual process, its best to read simultaneously with your preparation.
  • Resume – Having a cracker of a resume helps you get the crucial interview calls. Give your resume time and consideration before applying.

Conclusion:-

If you really want to start a career in analytics you can do so for free. All you need to give is time and dedication to it and utilize the resources that are available to you, I can speak so from my personal experience. I fly to Mumbai next week moving into Accenture Analytics. All I hope is this post will help many like me, who just need a little push to get them on their way.

Do share your questions, comments and add suggestions to this post. (You will only need to enter your email and name)

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294 comments

  1. Hi Akshay, i am delighted to read your post as undergoing through the same situation.2016 passout from chemical engineering with my skills and interest in computer science as well. Currently,working as a catastrophe modeller analyst at RMS,India. and looking to make my career in analytics because i am finding it quite interesting. I want to follow you for my queries where i cn expect replies from you. Its really great of you that you r helping everybody this way n it is really helpful ..

    Like

  2. i would only ask you to please keep the informations updated. I am following the above tutorial same as you have mentioned ..As its very true that online there is lot of information which is very confusing .. now act as a good teacher too .. 🙂 you’re doing good ..

    Like

  3. Hi Akshay. I have 3.2 years of experience as PHP developer. I want to make my career into data analytics. Could you guide me how can I make transition ? Will I be treated as fresher if I enter into this field ?

    Like

  4. HI Akshay Your post provides a clear pathway to dive into data analytics. Just wanted to know how should a fresher apply for jobs. And do companies,in India, hire fresher for such roles?

    It would be great if you could provide link to your GitHub account.

    Like

    1. Hi Akul,

      Thanks for writing in.

      There are quite a few companies that hire freshers but as mentioned the competition is quite fierce considering the amount of people applying. You need to set yourself apart from your peers, which the blog itself elaborates on.

      Github Link : https://github.com/akshaykher
      (I haven’t updated it for a long time though)

      Hope this helps,
      Cheers !

      Like

  5. Hi Akshay,

    Thanks for so much information as it helped me get a better idea of data analytics.

    I can correlate with most of the things you mentioned as I am going through a very similar situation.

    I just completed my b.e. in mechanical discipline and currently working in a manufacturing industry. But I think I am interested in numbers and reasoning and want to opt for a career in this field.

    So, I just wanted to know that being a mechanical engineer and a fresher in the field of data analytics how can I start preparing for this kind of job role.

    And please tell me some information on a role of a data analyst in the manufacturing industry.

    Thanks.

    Like

  6. You talked about the growing need for analysts, but then you said that a con of the industry is the heavy competition for jobs. I was excited to think I could make myself valuable in the work force, but now I’m scared that I’ll be wasting my time learning things I won’t be able to find a job doing. How does high demand for workers mesh with high competition?

    Like

    1. Hi Joni,

      Thanks for writing in and apologies for the delay in response.

      I think this is a very apt question but I feel “if it isn’t hard then probably anybody could do it”. Its about seeing a glass either half filled or half empty!

      The competition is fierce for entry level positions but once you enter the field, its relatively easier to switch. So don’t shy away from putting in the hard yards initially. If this field interests you then give it all without leaving your current job (if you are working). Good Luck 🙂

      Like

  7. Hi

    I have five months of experience in analytics. Worked in R, SQL and have knowledge of statistics and supervised learning algorithm. Am currently in notice period and looking for analytics opportunities.

    I have intermediate knowledge in R. Do you need to prepare for python

    Like

    1. Hi Nirmal,

      This completely depends upon each company. My advise would be to stick to R and SQL and get more in-depth knowledge of data science using them. Ultimately R/SAS/Python are all tools to implement data science and hence should always remain secondary.

      Like

  8. Hello Akshay!! Is it necessary to have verified certificate if you want to apply in data analyst companies..Even if you have knowledge of that particular subject..Do you have any verified certificate?

    Like

  9. Hello Akshay thanks for the guidance..I have some questions…
    I am BCA,graduated in the year 2015,Currently I am doing PGDM course which will end on jan 2018…I am fresher with 3 months Marketing experience(Nestle and Pidilite Industries)
    Can I go for Analytics Job?If yes,please mention the companies where I can apply..
    Thanks in Advance.

    Like

    1. Hi Abhishek,

      Such information is easily available on net. After narrowing down the companies please remember that a company will only hire if there are vacancies. So make sure that you specifically apply to those companies that are currently hiring. This information you can easily get from job portals !

      Hope this helps !

      Like

  10. hello akshay

    Actually i am a layman in this field i am pursuing bcom and this year is my final year….i have given cat this year and scored 85%….so i was asking that how should i start a career in this should i go for online course or offline course
    which one and from where

    Like

  11. Hey Akshay,

    I am learning Data science and Big Data Tech for more than 6-7 months, i have been doing most of the MOOCs and things you mentioned but i am struggling to land good interviews for the Analytics(I did got a chance when a Tech team interviewing me for soft Dev was so impressed and recommended me to analytics team for an interview, after 1 hour long interview they said i need more experience and at least a degree in Hand lol, I am in final year), i have 2-3 jobs on my hands but as Marketing automation Associate, Soft Dev etc. I am in my final semester of 4 year Computer Science Program. What can i do at this stage. I know i have what it takes. Should i join the best Job at my Hands and keep trying or Devote More time on My study and Keep trying?

    Like

    1. Hi Varshap,

      Thanks for writing in.

      I have also gone through this stage and I know it can be frustrating. You need to understand that this might well be the toughest part of your transition. Once you make that transition things will get smoother. I would advice you to keep trying and sooner than later you will get your choice of role. Good luck !

      Like

  12. Hii Akshay.. I am currently working as a investment adviser in motilaloswal securities ltd, i know fundamental analysis and technical analysis of stocks. with this domain knowledge I am thinking to enter in data-analytics or any other software job, for that which programming or software i have to learn, please help me in this. by the way I did mba in finance. thank you

    Like

  13. Hey Akshay ,
    Sorry to bother you again but could you tell the difference between work profiles of Mtech graduates with machine learning and those learning from internet from various credible sources ? What is the difference between both of the learnings ?

    Like

  14. Hey Akshay, I was looking for something exactly like this. To be honest, I did my research but was too shy, read it as scared, to give it a try. Having CS background just for name sake, I will start from scratch and this post motivated me a lot. Thanks for sharing your experience and I Wish you well for your new venture.

    Like

  15. Hi Akshay. Sorry to bother you once again. Actually, I was talking to one of my friends (probably a discouraging one) regarding the fact that I am learning data analytics. He promptly said that because I don’t have a background in IT/Computer Science I should not learn such things as it will not help in my any manner in context of my career. What is your take on this?

    Like

  16. Hello,
    I am an electrical engineer working for the past two years in manufacturing which is a totally different field. I want to start my career in analytics. Is it possible to do so?
    I am enrolling in a data scientist start up course next month, will that be helpful?
    Please suggest

    Like

  17. Hey Akshay,
    I am working as IP Researcher(Intellectual Property).
    First of all a lot of congratulations for your career shift. I was looking for a good guide to shift my career into Analytics. And your article is the best. I am going to start on your steps and will follow your blog closely. I i need any kind of help i will ask here.
    Once again a lot of thanks for this article.

    Like

  18. Hi Akshay, this is a very insightful blog and helps in understanding how should one start from scratch.
    I have one question though. You have listed a lot of MOOC that you undertook.

    So was there any order that you followed. like first the courses which describe data analytics, then the courses on implementation tools (R/Python/SAS) etc. and so on. Or you just picked up any course in random order.

    If there was an order, can you please share that.

    Like

  19. Hi Akshay, My name is Hemant Kumar. I am MBA Finance and have around 9 Years of Industry Exp in financial Analytic and Business Planning. However, I want to enter into Business Analytic.

    Please guide me how should I shift my carrer into the same, Which filed of Business Analytics should I move to, What skill set and courses should I take, Will it imapct my exp and pay.Lot of questions.

    pleae guide me

    Like

    1. Hi Hemant,

      My blog is particularly targeted for people with minimum or no work experience. I myself have about 2.5 years of experience. I would suggest that you take guidance from somebody having experience somewhere equivalent to yours.

      Like

  20. Hi Akshay

    I follow your blog regularly and its very useful and I am almost very clear with all my doubts. I just want to know the working hours and timings during which data analysts and data scientists works. Will they work on night shifts…?

    Like

  21. Greetings Akshay.
    I am a final year engineering student in an IIT, planning to break into analytics sector. I have found your content quite informative. 🙂
    I have roughly about 2-3 months before I graduate and I plan to take some courses in the mean time which can add value to my profile. Considering the time frame of 2-3 months, which specific courses would you recommend?

    Like

    1. Hi Shubham,

      I would definitely suggest that you do John Hopkins (R Programming and related courses), Analytics Edge (MIT), Data Analysis and Statistical Interference (Duke). This is the maximum that you can do in 2 months !

      Like

  22. Hi Akshay , Thanks for providing required insight on data analysis. I’m currently in final year of engineering , with no interest in being a software developer. I’m at that state where I’m really confused where I’m going with my career or life. I want to start as a data scientist , but all I have is last 2 months and after that I need a job desperately. Is it possible to get a job in analytics as a fresher ? Thanks in advance.

    Like

  23. How can you have a cracker of a resume if you are just a fresher? What are you gonna show? Are you asking us to lie about our skills?

    Like

    1. Hi Robin,

      Yes it can be tricky to make a good resume especially for entry level roles. However you can cut down on basic mistakes like exceeding the page limit of 1/2 pages, bad font, grammatical mistakes, irrelevant information etc. Once you’ve covered the basics which many people don’t then you can tailor your resume especially for the company/role that you’re applying instead of using the same template for all of them. Lastly, include self-projects, Kaggle Competitions and MOOCs which you have undertaken to differentiate your resume from the others. This I feel is quite close to having a great resume for entry level roles !

      Hope this helps, cheers !

      Like

  24. Hello Akshay,
    Great article, you provided quite a few links for online materials/ courses to follow. Do I follow them in the order provided or do you have any recommendations? I do not have much knowledge in stats or data science. need to start from scratch. Please recommend. Thank in advance!

    Like

  25. Hi Akshay,

    It is really great to know that the career shift worked out for you. I am a post graduate in Mathematical Sciences and have very very less technical knowledge. I worked in assessments and recently gave up my job for analytics. I am going through the free online courses. Can you suggest how much technical strength should I have before starting to apply for the jobs? Also, many organisations do not consider me as a fresher (in this field) neither do they want to take into account my previous experience.

    Like

  26. Hi Akshay,

    First of all, thanks for the detailed explanation about your path into analytics.

    By reading your story I somehow fall into your category, from tire 2 college, Accenture, Software engineer, Browsed and researched more on analytics.

    I have started learning about data analytics, I joined in datacamp online course. Now in the beginning stage of R language.

    I have plans of doing MS in data science or analytics after completion of this online course, what do you say on that? is it good? The reason why am learning about it before joining is to make myself better that I am fit for the course am taking on MS.

    And how did you switched your skills to analytics in accenture?

    Waiting for your reply thank you!.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karthik,

      Thanks for writing in and good luck on your journey to being an Analyst.

      Masters in Analytics or related discipline is a good option. They do offer good job prospects but I am not so sure about how much technical value do they add to your skill-set. It’s best to do your own research though.

      About switching, I have dedicated the whole blog to it 🙂

      Good luck, hope this helps !

      Like

  27. Hi , I’m Kartik I wanted to know that to get into field of business analytics is it worth it to do MBA in business analytics as the jobs that you get after MBA business analytics is going to be an entry level analyst job

    Like

    1. Hi Kartik,

      I haven’t heard of institutes offering full time MBA in Business Analytics. There are generally diploma/executive courses on it, although I might be wrong. MBA is not essential to get into analytics and I have expanded more on this in my blog as well.

      Like

  28. Hello Sir,
    I am a BCA graduate and interested in Bigdata Analytics. Currently i am doing a Data Analytics course at Digitalvidya. Can you plz suggest how can i become a Analytics Professional and which master degree will help.

    Like

  29. Hi
    I have done BBM and MBA in marketing,and am a fresher and not from computer background . Is this analytics job required computer programming languages.
    Thanks in Advance.

    Like

    1. Hi Teena,

      Some amount of programming exposure is absolutely necessary. Good programming skills are highly recommended if you want to excel. So don’t fear programming, work on it and become good at it. Will help a lot in the long run !

      Like

  30. HI AKSHAY,
    First of all Thank you so much for sharing such a great info on data analysis for beginners.

    MY NAME IS AMIT KUMAR, COMPLETED BSC IT IN 2014 AND STARTED WORKING WITH ACCENTURE AS ASSOCIATE SWF ENG AND WORKED ONLY FOR 3 MONTHS.
    AFTER THAT I HAD STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS WHICH WAS INTO IT HARDWARE IMPORT AND DID IT FOR 3 YEARS.NOW I DONT FIND ANY SCOPE IN THAT BUSINESS AND PLANNING TO GET IN TO DATA SCIENCE BY COMPLETE PG COURSE OFFERED BY REPUITED INSTITUTE WITH PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE OR THE WAY WHICH YOU HAVE GUIDED.

    NOW MY QUESTION IS DO YOU THINK AFTER COMPLETING DATA SCIENCE COURSE I WILL BE ABLE TO GET DESCENT DATA ANALYSIS JOB IN REPUTED COMPANY AS I HAVE 3 YEARS OF BUSINESS EXPERIENCE(GAP)???
    ALSO GUIDE ME HOW SHOULD I PRESENT MY 3 YEARS BUSINESS EXPERIENCE IN CV ???

    INSTANT REPLY WILL BE APPRECIATED.

    IF POSSIBLE PLZ GIVE ME A CALL ON 9029063093.

    GOD BLESS YOU , KEEP HELPING MATE !

    Like

    1. Hi Amit,

      I don’t think I am in the best position to provide any sort of advice here. Frankly if you really want to get into analytics then your best chance would be through an academic course (considering you have a 3-year work gap which can be very hard to explain and you also don’t have any work experience). So try to work on your basic skills, do an academic course (lot are available from reputed universities) and then try your luck to get into analytics.

      Hope this works for you !

      Like

  31. Hello Akshay,
    Your blog is really helpful for a beginner like me. I wanted to know that if it is possible to acquire basic knowledge of data analysis helpful for fresher opportunities in just 6 months?

    Like

  32. Hi Akshay, I have been in the IT industry for 6+ yrs and been working as a developer.Is it too late to switch to data analytics? I have started going through linear algebra, python & stuff.Just wanted to know if a switch is possible at this stage in my career & what process should i follow?

    Like

    1. Hi Alankar, I am not in the best position to answer this considering I have less than 3 years of work-ex. Get in touch with somebody with a similar situation, they will be able to guide you better. Good Luck !

      Like

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