defines analyst as, “a person who reviews and examines data or information for a specific area.” That definition covers any number of roles in any number of industries, so how do you know if you want to be an “analyst?” At Technomics, we have several major capability areas that are staffed with analysts from a wide variety of technical backgrounds. Analysts are trained in mathematics, operations research, economics, accounting, computer science, or engineering. Each of these disciplines focuses on applying many of the same skills to examine different sets of data or information.

Throughout your education and your career, you have been developing analytical skills. You may have some or even all of the skills that an analyst needs and calls upon daily. What are these skills that make an analyst successful and high-performing? If you have any gaps in these skills, how can you learn or develop them?

Let’s take a look into an analyst’s toolkit and find out.

Foundational Knowledge

  • Probability and Statistics
  • Algebra
  • Linear Algebra
  • Numerical Methods

If you missed any of these courses in college or need a refresher, there are some great online learning resources that you can do for free and at your own pace. Khan Academy offers many basic mathematics courses that are free and self-paced, including probability and statistics, algebra, and linear algebra. Coursera is another online learning institution that offers both free and paid courses in a wide range of subjects that are taught and administered by top universities around the world. They even offer certificates for completing the required courses in specialization areas. If you prefer a traditional classroom environment, many communities offer continuing education courses throughout the year that can refresh your memory for any of these topics.

Computer Skills

  • Excel
  • Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
  • Access/Database Design
  • Automated Cost Estimating Integrated Tools (ACEIT)
  • R (Programming Language)
  • Monte Carlo Simulation

Depending on the person, computer skills may come naturally or can be a real challenge to develop. Continuing education courses usually include specific classes on Microsoft products such as Excel and Access, as well as VBA. Coursera has a highly popular course from Johns Hopkins University on R programming to perform statistical analyses. ACEIT provides several modes of training including open courses, one-on-one training, and on-site training, as outlined on their website. In developing my own computer skills, I have found that some of these skills can be self-taught using tutorial references, such as Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA and the Access 2013 Bible.

Management Skills

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®) Guide that is maintained by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is the go-to for an instructional reference and for best practices in project management. It covers each of these skill areas and much more. Continuing education courses are frequently offered for project management that can broaden your knowledge and earn you professional development units (PDUs) toward maintaining a project management certification.

Management Knowledge

  • Acquisition Process (may be industry specific)
  • Product Development Process/Milestones
  • Contract Types

If you work with government clients, the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) provides a course via distance learning on Fundamentals of Systems Acquisition Management, or ACQ 101, that covers the acquisition process, milestones, and an overview of contract types.

Supporting Skills

  • Presentation/Public Speaking
  • Technical Writing and Documentation

The best way to develop your presentation and public speaking skills is through practice – something that Toastmasters International knows all about. Find a club in your area that provides the supportive environment you need to get out of your comfort zone and to boost your confidence so that you can be ready to defend your analyses.

What would you add to your toolkit? Comment below or share via LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Contact us to get in touch with one of our talented analysts and learn what skills they use in their daily work.