Three Considerations for Embarking on a Data-Centric Career

Those interested in entering the field of data and databases face difficulties acquiring the skills necessary to succeed as a data professional. Today’s tech jobs come in all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. Gone are the days of tech positions belonging solely to those skilled in computer science.

Hard skills, while still valuable, are only part of the necessary skill set to be successful as a data professional. But hard skills have a ceiling. Hard skills can be replaced. Soft skills have no ceiling and offer more value than many hard skills.

The internet is littered with information—and misinformation—regarding data and databases, so it’s hard to know how to get started. For those pursuing careers in data, there are a handful of skills crucial to launching and succeeding in the world of data. Specifically, the ability to collect, analyze, and communicate data effectively should make up the foundation of your data-centric career.

These are the skills that will help you succeed in the initial stages and carry you into the future.

Launching a Data-Focused Career

 hese skills are critical—whether you’re looking to pursue a profession as a DBA, database engineer, or anything in between. They enable you to get the most out of data as well asshare the information gathered with business leaders—ultimately, increasing your value-add in the organization and helping to drive the business forward with actionable insights. Important aspects of each core skillset include the following:

Data collection—This refers to the process of gathering and measuring data and information. Obtaining data and using it effectively is vital for all database professionals. On a universal level, tools such as Microsoft Excel are pertinent for data pros to effectively use the information collected.

Data analysis—Once you have collected data, you then need to analyze it and look for the stories the data is trying to tell you. Data professionals use a variety of tools to analyze database performance and data. There is the opportunity to learn languages such as Python or to build data models inside of Power BI. Analyzing data enables you to discover valuable information and potentially even have a say in business decision making.

Communicating data—Collecting and analyzing data is, of course, crucial, but how you convey key learnings and insights is of equal importance. Your ability to share those results with business leaders ultimately shapes how the data will be used in the organization. You can successfully communicate by building data visualizations or showing graphs, but, whatever you do, you should ensure that it is done in a way that will resonate with leadership.

Skill Up to Keep Up

By developing and honing the above skills in a data career—data collection, analysis, and communication of results—there’s virtually no limit to what you can accomplish in your role. On the flip side, failing to develop these core skills will make you vulnerable to losing out on opportunities and, potentially, even losing a job. Without these skills, you’re replaceable. If you don’t feel well-equipped at the moment, you should highly consider skilling up.

Putting It Into Practice

Skill development can be accomplished by taking online courses, listening to webinars, consulting free resources, talking to mentors and others in the same role, and even making your case for business managers to invest in training. For those interested in insights and best practices about databases in general, such as types of databases, how to choose the right database, and additional factors to consider, check out my Database 101 article at