Top Free Resources To Help You Become a Data Analyst

    Posted on Thursday, Aug 02, 2018
    Chances are, you or someone you know is curious about the best job in America for three years straight. We may all have different backgrounds, but most of us start from the same place - the bottom. This is everything I've learned in the past year while I was trying to break into the industry


    The Best: Highly accessible for students of all levels, extremely easy to sign up and use. The Worst: Very sparse selection of free courses. Anecdotally I have heard of others finding work in analytics from DataCamp and self study alone but I personally wouldn't count on it. In my opinion, unless your employer is paying your subscription STAT 604 Computational Statistics is the way to go. I††highly recommend the Introduction to R†course from data camp to prepare for this class. DataCamp's pacing is not as good as STAT 604 - it starts excruciatingly slow and then ramps up so quickly that you find yourself going back to previous slides. Why am I still recommending it? I did DataCamp before I started STAT 604 and I honestly think it helped me prepare. On one hand, DataCamp's paid material in R programming is much more comprehensive than the R portion of STAT 604 (which takes up approximately 1/3 of the course). On the other hand, unlike STAT 604 there is no material on DataCamp regarding SAS, the "undisputed market leader in commercial analytics space." More on that later.

    Flatiron's Data Science Boot Camp Prep Course

    The Best:†Good introduction to git which builds your portfolio The Worst:†Full program is $15,000 and in NYC I'm going to be honest, I started this course then closed my browser at the line "Computer Science is a liberal art," and went back to DataCamp where I felt like they appreciated the field. Why am I still recommending this? I thought their Web Development Boot Camp prep course was pretty good and I'm just expecting this will be good quality for the price (free). Plus your work does help build your portfolio. My current employer was looking at my social media presence, and found my git page with my web development work with Flatiron's free courses. If anything it shows initiative to self-study and a basic knowledge of version control (if you really want to learn git this isn't the place to do it but it's a start). Just a reminder that boot camps are not accredited. Even there are some success stories with boot camps, I personally think the cost to benefit ratio just isn't there. If you are really hard on your luck with a little savings and are looking for a career change the $1,500 per month online only may be an option for you. But beware, we all know there are risks and problems associated with for-profit education business models. I saved the best for last so keep reading!

    SAS Programming 1: Essentials†

    The Best: Part 1 of 2 of a truly valuable certification.


    The Worst: Not easy for those without computer experience (Virtual Machine, bios screen) If you're not in the industry you may not have heard of SAS. Despite being a market leader in data analytics, its barrier of entry is speculatively the reason for its lack of presence in the media. There is so much information on the SAS website,†and it can be very overwhelming for beginners. It was for me as well before STAT 604. I wanted to learn SAS but I didn't know where to start. I thought University Edition was only for students who were already majoring in statistics / analytics and assumed that there were no self-study options for me. (When I first looked into SAS it was before I was admitted into TAMU.) Lucky for you I was wrong and SAS University Edition is available for "learners" as well! Which is great since their SAS Programming 1: Essentials online course is free. (Spoiler alert, it is also a part of STAT 604. I wish I had known this before I took the class.) Installing SAS†University Edition†is a bit of a hassle, but it's better than not being able to learn it at all! I remember my first time running a virtual machine, I was pretty intimidated. So if you feel like it's too much you're not alone.†If it makes you feel better, everything that could have went wrong with my installation went wrong. Just follow the instructions and ask the internet if you run into any problems. (Some of the things I had to do - reinstall Java, adjust a setting in my BIOS, change a setting in VirtualBox.) You may be wondering the point of taking STAT 604 if SAS has free resources. The SAS Base Programming certification covers two courses, and only the first is free. However, the STAT 604 prepares you for the certification as well as teaches you enough R to get by. I was lucky enough to land a job just recently with my new analytics skills from the statistics department and even though I'm not done with the course yet, I'm putting my newly gained R knowledge to good use. More on that in another post though.

    You will still have to purchase your own e-Practice exam, Prep guide, and exam voucher since they are not covered with tuition but as a TAMU student you get a 50% discount.

    Jennifer Cai
    Jennifer is a Masters student in the College of Science's Analytics program.

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