The 3 Month Roadmap to Becoming a Data Analyst and Mastering Power BI

Mark Jones
August 21, 2023

The role of data analyst is one of the fastest growing professions. Companies have more data than ever before but need help making sense of it to drive smart business decisions.

Data analysts are highly sought after even without a traditional computer science degree. Their main focus is taking raw data and turning it into clear insights through metrics, modeling, visualization and reporting.

The great news is that you can take yourself from beginner to qualified data analyst in just 3 months by following this roadmap. We’ll cover the key technical skills as well as important soft skills like communication and teamwork.

This blog will walk you through the step-by-step path to land your first job, transition careers or level up in your current role. Let’s get started!

The 3 Month Data Analyst Roadmap

Here is an overview of the roadmap - we’ll dig into each part in more detail throughout the article:

  • Weeks 1-2: Excel, Math & Stats Fundamentals
  • Weeks 3-5: Power BI Basics
  • Weeks 6-7: SQL for Data Analysis
  • Week 8: Python & Pandas for Data Prep
  • Week 9: Agile Project Management Skills
  • Weeks 10-12: Resume, Portfolio Building & Interview Prep
  • Throughout: Develop Soft Skills Like Communication and Teamwork

The roadmap is designed around four hours of learning and practice per day. This includes:

  • 3 hours focused on technical data skills
  • 1 hour for improving soft skills

Let’s look at what’s included in each week...

Weeks 1-2: Excel, Math & Stats Fundamentals

We recommend starting with Excel because it’s the most widely used tool by data analysts day-to-day. You’ll should learn:

  • Formulas like VLOOKUPS and PivotTables
  • Basic graphing and charting
  • Filtering and sorting data
  • Applying formatting for readability

Spend time practicing real-world Excel use cases like the budgeting or financial analysis templates available online.

You’ll also need a solid grasp of math and statistics like calculating percentages, ratios, mean/median, standard deviation, etc. Resources like Khan Academy are great for reviewing these fundamental concepts.

How to Learn the Fundamentals of Excel?

We have several free Summit recordings covering both Excel and Power BI within the Collab365 Academy. This will help you get started: 

microsoft excel sessions in the collab365 academy

microsoft excel sessions in the collab365 academy

Weeks 3-5: Learn Power BI

Power BI is one of the hottest skills for data analysts at the moment. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface allows you to quickly import, visualize and share insights from data.

Some of the key things you’ll need to learn are:

  • Connecting to data sources like CSV files or databases
  • Transforming and cleaning data with Power Query
  • Designing interactive reports with slicers and drill downs
  • Modeling data for optimal performance
  • Automating report refreshing and delivery
  • Creating ranked charts, KPI cards and other visualizations
  • Building dashboards to consolidate insights
  • Sharing reports via apps or the web

Hands-on tutorials like our Power BI Jumpstart Challenge are extremely effective at getting you started. You’ll retain much more by actually building reports with real data vs just watching videos. We also have a comprehensive Power BI Success Path that offers 5 certifications and will allow you to become a Power BI Pro. The Power BI Success Path is available with a 7-Day Free Trial (and can be completed within 7-days).

Weeks 6-7: SQL for Data Analysis

SQL is a must-have skill for accessing and analyzing data stored in databases. You’ll need to learn:

  • Querying data with SELECT statements
  • Filtering certain rows with WHERE clauses
  • Handling missing values
  • Joining multiple tables
  • Aggregating data with GROUP BY
  • Subqueries and CTEs for advanced logic
  • Window functions for complex analysis
  • And much more

Again, you’ll cement these skills best by practicing queries on actual data sets. Many resources online provide sample databases to work with.

Here's a free course to lean SQL:

Week 8: Python for Data Prep

While Excel and Power BI are great for analysis, Python is better for preparing and cleaning data. With the Pandas library, you can:

  • Load data from CSVs, databases and web APIs
  • Handle missing values
  • Parse text into categories
  • Standardize formatting
  • Merge datasets
  • And more

Python is a useful tool for a data analyst to learn. Being able to automate data prep workflows provides a lot of value.

Here's a great course to learn Python:

Week 9: Agile Project Management Skills

Data analysts don’t work in isolation - you’ll need skills for collaborating effectively. Agile frameworks like Kanban help teams work together efficiently.

In this week, you’ll learn principles like:

  • Breaking projects into manageable sprints
  • Daily standup meetings to align as a team
  • Using boards to visualize workflows
  • Reviewing work samples frequently
  • Adapting based on changing needs
  • Retrospectives for continuous improvement

Tools like Trello, Jira and facilitate Agile project management for data teams.

Weeks 10-12: Resume, Portfolio Building & Interview Prep

Once you’ve built your skills, it’s time to prepare for job applications.

Key steps include:

Throughout: Develop Soft Skills Like Communication and Teamwork

Hard skills will get you the interview, but soft skills will land you the job. Throughout the 12 weeks, work on abilities like:

  • Business communication - Practice explaining insights from data clearly and persuasively
  • Presentation skills - Speak confidently to groups when sharing reports and results
  • Collaboration - Partner on projects and give constructive feedback
  • Time management - Juggle multiple projects and priorities effectively
  • Growth mindset - Continuously try to improve; don’t fear making mistakes
  • Leadership - Inspire and motivate others on your team

Joining professional organizations and attending local Meetups are great ways to develop these essential skills.

Tips for Effective Learning

Learning technical skills for 40+ hours a week for 3 months can be challenging. Here are some tips to stay motivated and effective:

  • Hold yourself accountable to your goals by sharing them with friends and family
  • Have an accountability partner you speak with weekly to discuss progress and blockers
  • Set up a dedicated workspace or office to “go to work”
  • Take regular breaks during long study sessions to recharge
  • Review materials multiple times and practice skills to truly grasp concepts
  • Explain and discuss what you’re learning with others to solidify knowledge
  • Stay engaged by participating in online communities and forums when stuck
  • Celebrate growth and give yourself credit for showing up each day

Investing in yourself for 12 weeks will pay dividends for your entire career. Stay focused on the end goal and make small gains each day.

Why Power BI is a Key Skill for Today's Data Analyst

As discussed above, having Power BI expertise can help you stand out from other entry-level analysts. Why has it become so critical?

  • Power BI dominates the self-service data visualization space compared to Tableau, Looker, etc. It’s one of the fastest growing skills companies request.
  • Power BI Premium allows admins to manage access and scale to the entire organization.
  • It integrates tightly with Microsoft tools like Excel, Azure Synapse Analytics, Dynamics 365 and more that companies already use.
  • Drag-and-drop simplicity compared to coding languages like R and Python. Enables rapid insights.
  • Allows non-technical users access to data without needing engineering resources. Democratizes data.
  • Flexible delivery options via apps, APIs, the web and mobile. Data insights anytime, anywhere.

Learning Power BI to a professional level will help you stand out in the job market.

Next Steps and Conclusion

Thank you for reading this guide on how to start from scratch and transition into a data analyst career within 3 months!

Here are some next steps to help you get started:

  • Take a free Power BI course like the Power BI Jumpstart Challenge (with a 7-Day Free Platinum Plan Trial ) to experience the hands-on learning approach
  • Join the Collab365 Academy community to get questions answered quickly during your learning journey
  • Create a study plan to stay consistent and motivated; track progress in an Excel dashboard
  • Add connections with data professionals on LinkedIn to start building your network

Please let me know if you have any other questions! The key is to just take that first step and invest in yourself for 12 weeks. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go.

You can absolutely do this. Commit to the roadmap and kickoff an exciting new career in data. I'm rooting for you!

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