Interested in learning data analysis skills but aren’t quite sure where to start? You’re not alone. The jobs of data scientists and data analysts have become some of the most sought after in the recent years. From machine learning algorithms to processing big data with programs like Apache Spark and Hadoop, turning unstructured data sets into valuable, predictive information has become one of the most lucrative skills in the 21st century.
However, there is much more to the job of the data analyst than just data mining and predictive analytics. Transforming raw data into valuable business intelligence is vital to us as consumers and producers of data. However, the power of data analysis has become increasingly important to policy making in many of the governments around the world. France recently proposed a new law, for example, that will allow certain ministries to access an individual’s social media accounts in order to investigate tax avoidance.
With the amounts of data being produced everyday by individuals around the world, the field of data analysis has produced a broad and diverse field of specialists. From data management to data governance, the world of advanced analytics touches the majority of subjects and professions: medicine, law, business, health and more. Because of this, learning statistics can be done from a copious number of perspectives and learned from an even greater number of outlets. It can become overwhelming to decide a starting point that fits your interests and your skill level.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about learning data analytics online. Starting with the different branches within data analysis, you’ll finally be able to start learning the complex data skills you’ve always wanted to learn!
What is a Data Scientist?
What is data analysis and is it different from the job of a data scientist? Whether you're interested in deep learning or business analytics, it's important to understand the differences between data analysis and data science. Here are two brief descriptions and differences within the fields.
- Data Analysis: concerns itself with using statistical methods in order to clean unstructured data and create predictive models, interactive visualizations and insights.
- Data Science: interested less with data visualization and curating insights from data and more with using computer science skills to extract patterns from data.
Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the differences between the two fields, but it can help you start to understand the key aspects of both.
How to Become a Data Scientist Online
One of the best resources for learning algorithms or technical skills for data analysis is the internet. Many of the best data scientists often learn the best by getting hands on experience from the internet, whether from online courses or from getting advice from other data scientists. If you’re interested in learning more about data products and analysis, this is definitely the best route.
Before you start your search, narrow down the field by determining your budget and the subjects you’d like to learn. This will make it easier to find the perfect class or tutorials for your needs. Below are some of the online courses and resources you can access either at a subscription price or for free.
Learning Data Processing and Analysis for Free
If you’re interested in learning the skills involved for the role of statisticians or for big data analytics, much of what you need to learn can be found online for free. Whether you want to learn how to process large amounts of data or if you want to enrol in a bootcamp that teaches you the basics of exploratory analysis, you’ll be able to find the help you need at no cost. Here are some of the best courses or resources you’ll find online.
Fundamentals of Data Analysis
If you’re interested in getting certification, training and more in data science or data analysis, taking online courses for free is the best place to start. If it’s necessary to enrol in a specific course, the service you’re using should tell you whether you need to apply now or later. Here are some of the best free online data science courses.
Offering programs and degrees online, as well as partnering with some of the biggest corporation and universities around the world, EdX is an online platform that provides courses either for free or at a price set by the institutions that partner with them.
Hosting courses in a variety of subjects, you can find free courses on the fundamentals of data analysis from universities and enterprises such as IBM, Microsoft, MIT and Harvard.
If you want to learn the fundamentals of data science, artificial intelligence, programming, autonomous systems, cloud computing, business, and more, Udacity hosts both paid and free courses on their website.
This website is notorious in the data science and business world. Home to many resources for data, they have a data mining course where you can download all the data sources and study material you’ll need free of charge.
Learning Programming Languages
If you’re interested in learning the basics of programming languages like SQL, which resembles R programming, and more, most of the websites listed above have portions of their site dedicated towards acquiring the basics of programming. If you’re looking for websites devoted solely to programming, here are some of the best ones for data analysts.
One of the most notorious resources for data scientists and data analysts, this website provides interactive tutorials where you’ll be taken through each language step by step. Each tutorial builds upon the previous one so that you can apply what you learn almost immediately. Some of the languages they work with are:
- HTML and CSS
Whether you’ve just acquired a data science job, are doing a capstone course or want to eventually get a specialization in data science, Kaggle one of the best places to download data sets. Organized by size, file type, subject, these data sets are made even more special by the fact that they are worked on by a global community of data analysts.
You can create your own notebook, replete with your methodology and code, as well as browse through the digital notebooks of others. Kaggle is the perfect website for getting hands-on experience with data.
Advice for Working with New Data and Concepts
Whether you need advice on data cleaning, need some help on your Capstone project, or need advice on the trajectory of your data science career, online forums can be the best place to bet both technical and non-technical advice. Here are some of the best ones out there.
Created for both people who already have a maths or science career and for those that are still in the learning process, Stack Overflow allows you to ask and answer questions posed by its members. While their focus is mainly for developers, they are very helpful for people stuck on programming code for statistics.
Stack Exchange's Cross Validated
Stack Exchange manages the over 170 community based, question and answer sites related to a number of different subjects from physics to Japanese. Their statistics dedicated website, Cross Validated, can help you with all the concept and code related issues you might be having related to statistics.
Wolfram's Statistics and Probability Community
A great website for students, Wolfram's community is another question and answer forum that is perfect for professionals, academics and students. Perfect for those with specializations in mathematical statistics, statistical maths and probability, you'll get the help you need on everything from homework problems to time series troubleshooting.
Learning Models and Analysis with Online Courses
If you're the type of person who enjoys learning techniques that allow them to go at their own pace, there are other courses you can take online. Udemy offers a variety of different courses in data science and analysis. From data wrangling to solving business problems, you'll get access to both video tutorials and class materials. Prices range from 11 to 170 pounds.
Superprof is another great online platform where you can improve your programming skills, data engineering and more. With tutors also available for in-person classes, you can also take advantage of the community of over 11,000 statistics tutors with the average price of 12 pounds per hour.
Taking University Data Analytics Courses
Interested in pursuing a Bachelor or Master of science in statistics? While it's impossible to review the best of all data analysis programs available in the UK, here are a couple degree programs you should start your search with:
- Mathematical statistics
- Data science
Resources Online for Data Driven Folks
Developing analytic skills such as NoSQL, unsupervised learning, google cloud, or programming skills can be difficult. Whether you're following an unsupervised, online master or are taking one of the many data bootcamps out there, here are a couple of resources to help you prepare and analyse data.
Check out our guide on the best online resources for stats help for more!