Web Analytics is one of the hottest fields these days. A lot of people are planning to switch careers and many students are looking to start their career in Web Analytics but don’t know where to start. This article is for aspiring web analysts to help them make a transition into web analytics field.
Skills required to be a Web Analyst
First and foremost you need desire and passion to be a web analyst. Desire and passion will get you where you want to go. I believe (and this is my opinion only), if you have the desire and passion then you can acquire other skills. Not everybody will agree with me but again, that’s my view.
The other most important skill that you need is analytical skill. If you are a person who always looks at the problem from a different angle than most of the other people, you have what it takes. If you can put different pieces of the puzzle together to form a complete picture you have the skills to be a web analyst. If you can critically look at things, you have the skills.
Other skills and education that will come in handy are:
You don’t need a college degree but a lot of employers look for it and I look at it when hiring a candidate. Business, Marketing, Accounting, Statistics and Technical degrees will be very helpful in getting you the job but I have seen Web Analysts with very diverse educational background.
I highly recommend reading the series of interviews I conducted with several web analysts. This will give you an idea of what they think are the skills required to be a web analyst. They also have advice for people who aspire to a career in this field.
Learning about web analytics
There are several resources available to learn about Web Analytics. There are several blogs on Web Analytics where you can get all levels of information on this subject.
First and foremost you should join WebAnalytics group on Yahoo. This forum is a great source of information. You will find all levels of web analysts in this forum. This is a free for all forum, even if you want to stay on the sideline and just read messages, you can learn a lot. If you have any question on this subject, feel free to ask at this forum.
Buy a copy of Web Analytics Demystified by Eric Peterson and a copy of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushi. These are the two best resources for all levels of web analytics, especially for those who are just starting. Here is a list of books recommended by other web analysts
Online Course by University of British Columbia
If you are prefer to learn in formal way then I recommend the course offered by University of British Columbia. You can learn more about this course at http://www.tech.ubc.ca/metrics/curric.html. (Full Disclaimer: I am one of the associate instructors for this course). This course is offered in partnership with Web Analytics Association (WAA).
Reading blogs, articles and whitepapers is another way to expand your knowledge. There are several blogs out there which touch on various topics on Web Analytics and other related topics. I would recommend you familiarize yourself with the Web Analytics field (see above) before reading these blogs. Both of these blogs have a list of lots of other blogs on Web Analytics. I won’t give you a list of top 10, top 20 blogs because it all depends on what topic you are trying to learn more about. The more you read the better you will understand this field. If you do not have time to go to each and every blog every day you can setup blog alerts on Google for “Web Analytics”
Gaining Practical Experience
This is one of the biggest challenges facing people who want to start a career in Web Analytics. Employers don’t want to hire you if you don’t have experience and you can’t get experience if you don’t have job. (See Getting a Job for more information)
Google Analytics has made it really easy for anybody to get a web analytics tool. This tool is completely free with all the documentation to help you get rolling. If you have a website, deploy this tool and play with it. This will help you understand how web analytics tools and reports work. To gain further experience, tap into your network, I am sure somebody (a friend of a friend of a friend…) will allow you (especially if you are willing to do it for free) to provide reporting and analysis on their site (real site).
Getting a Job
Bloggers and analysts write about the shortage of Web Analysts all the time. There are plenty of companies who are looking for web analysts but are not able to fill the open positions. But when you look at open positions they all need at least 2+ year of experience in omniture, webtrend etc. So what do you do when all you have is some Google Analytics experience on your blog and a certificate from UBC?
As I said before, you don’t need any experience to find a job in this field, all you need is analytical mindset and desire to learn and grow. There are companies who will hire you, train you and provide the support to help you grow. Even though the job requirements asks for 2+ numbers of years in web analytics or web analytics tools, the fact is that there is indeed a shortage of experienced web analytics people. So the companies might be willing to settle for someone without any experience as long as the candidate can demonstrate analytical thinking, desire and passion, and of-course a certificate from UBC will help. Chances of you getting a job without any real experience are pretty good. However, keep in mind that these companies might not be able to relocate you, so you will be limited by the opportunities in the companies in your geographic area.
My advice is that if you see such a job opening, go ahead and apply. If the company has a senior analyst who is willing to teach then you will get a call.
During the interview process make sure that there will be someone who is willing to provide you on the job training. That will make your life easy. You will probably learn faster than those who don’t have that kind of support.
Also, make sure to understand what your role will be. I am amazed to see that some of the job postings want everything on the earth: Omniture, .Net, SQL, Marketing Analysis, Business Objects and the list goes on. If you do apply and get a call from these companies, make sure you clearly understand what you are getting into and that’s what you want to do.
Go ahead and email me (batraonline at gmail) your resume and I will see what I can do for you.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me or a leave a message with your contact information.
Note: This post is an updated version of the blog post that I wrote in 2006.
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