Education logo

What Sets a Data Scientist Apart From a Data Analyst?


By LekhanaPublished 7 months ago 6 min read

It is clear why there is confusion between data analysts and data scientists because both of them "analyze" data. Data science is a relatively new field, which exacerbates the problem. Indeed, there are differences in how a company defines its data scientist profession if you look at job advertisements for data scientists. Instead of a data scientist, they frequently need a data analyst or data engineer. As a result, a more apparent distinction is required between data scientists and data analysts because there is a perceived weak division between them. In light of this, our goal is to contribute to resolving the fundamental query surrounding the distinction between a data scientist and a data analyst.

However, a critical distinction between the two is the degree of complexity and in-depth knowledge required of data scientists at each stage of the data science cycle. There are actually similar functions between the two.

Here, the emphasis is on the "science" of data, which calls for a degree of scientific reasoning and systematic investigation above and beyond just drawing "actionable" conclusions from a nicely organized data set. As a result, there are at least three fundamental distinctions between a data analyst and a data scientist: the central issues or challenges, the development of models, and the comparison of past and future performance.

Before moving on, don’t forget to explore the data science course online, which is the comprehensive data science and AI training for working professionals led by tech leaders.

1. Starting with a Question for Analysis

Data analysts typically already have a question clearly stated and in line with company goals. Because they already have a set of predetermined parameters for their study, their analysis is pre-defined in this sense.

The fundamental issues or questions that the data may or may not address, however, are the responsibility of data scientists. This is a more hazy vantage point because data scientists must sift through the information to decide whether the central query or issue can be resolved or addressed in light of the gathered information. If the problem or question and the data do not agree, another round of exploratory data analysis is typically carried out, or the problem or question is reformulated.

The data scientist may assign a data analyst to discover trends, produce intermediate data visualization outputs, and produce department-dependent reports (such as sales, customer service, accounting, etc.) for evaluation once the primary problem or query has been identified.

As we can see, while both professions perform analysis, data scientists do it at a higher level. To get to the next stage in the data science cycle, data scientists use advanced statistical tools and conduct hypothesis testing throughout the entire analytical process.

2. Analytics and Model Construction

Data scientists and analysts use statistical models. A greater level of complexity is required to create the statistical models where the primary separation appears. More specifically, data scientists develop statistical models and employ ML algorithms for improved predictive and inferential accuracy using their highly developed statistical expertise.

A data scientist can also handle this activity. However, a data analyst may clean the target dataset as part of the pretreatment stage. Any raw data must be converted into a clear, structured format for this to work. A data scientist will then choose the optimal machine learning model and deploy it. This can be a time-consuming and highly iterative process that can be challenging but does involve understanding the right tools for fine-tuning the various modular parts.

The process doesn't stop there, though. Every model will eventually need to be adjusted, especially in light of all businesses' rapid and intense globalization, where scalability becomes a problem. A data analyst can examine the model's performance, who will then report their results to the data scientist, who will decide whether to re-optimize the model or create a different, more reliable one. Data analysts thus carry out a more focused task inside the broader cycle of insight extraction.

3. Comparing historical research with forecasting future advancements

Although data scientists and analysts can use trends to better inform strategic decision-making, the examination of previous performance, as opposed to anticipated improvements, is the crucial distinction. As previously mentioned, the automation of predictive measures through machine learning is one more aspect. A data analyst who has received extensive training and education can understand the metrics derived from predictive models. Still, it is the data scientist's responsibility to assess the model's accuracy and identify when and where it needs to be updated.

As a result, a data analyst's main objective is to evaluate what has already happened and share this information with other stakeholders (including data scientists). A data scientist will assess previous performance, contrast the current trend with the findings from the prediction model(s) in use, and then recalculate as necessary and as current performance trends change. In conclusion, a data analyst's work focuses on descriptive and retroactive procedures for the facts that the data reveals. Data scientists are primarily concerned with making predictive and prescriptive forecasts about what the data means for the future and how stakeholders can improve their performance, particularly to meet KPI metrics or other business objectives.

Toolkit for data science

Some people argue that one more differentiation among data scientists is their choice of tools. However, this is not always the case. During their jobs, data analysts and scientists frequently utilize the same software or programming languages, such as Excel, Tableau, R, Python, SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, SQL, MySQL, Cognos, etc. Both will also require some expertise with the software, reporting, and laws exclusive to their employer, depending on the industry. Instead of being two different types of tools, the distinction, in this case, would be one of degree or what those instruments are employed explicitly for. You can master these tools with the online data science course offered by Learnbay.

Using Both Parties' Skills

In conclusion, the fundamental distinctions between data analysts and data scientists are those of granularity. This indicates that, despite some overlap in some tasks, there is a distinct division when we look at what each does daily. Notably, data scientists may carry out the duties of a data analyst easily (at least, they should be able to). Data analytics should be second nature to a data scientist, without a doubt.

  • Both make use of data visualization and are required to present their findings. Nevertheless, depending on whether the results are descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive, the objectives of their studies also diverge to the extent mentioned above. It's also true that both must address a particular issue or provide a specific response (or set of problems and questions). However, data scientists support the development of the question and assess its validity in light of the facts at hand (hypothesis testing).
  • Data analysts frequently use a predetermined set of queries. Data scientists, however, have more difficulty navigating. They must know how to formulate a topic accurately before setting up a research cycle and deciding whether to stick with the original question or pursue alternative avenues. When to make changes without introducing bias to the query or the targeted data set (in machine learning, there are mathematical controls for this aspect).
  • Data scientists are the designers of these technologies in terms of statistical models. Data analysts also use those tools but don't create them collectively; instead, they use them for descriptive analysis and comparing the results to key performance indicators (KPIs).

    Final Words!

To be clear, both data analysts and data scientists perform crucial roles. But to fully utilize each other's skills and abilities and benefit both employers and employees, businesses and job seekers need to understand the key distinctions between the two. If you’re looking for resources to advance your career in this field, then check out the trending best data science courses, which are co-developed by IBM. Enroll and become a certified data analyst or data scientist in your preferred industry.


About the Creator

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.