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The Modern Data Analyst Skill Stack: What You Need To Be Successful In Data Analytics in 2023 and Beyond

Today, I’m sharing the three modern skill stacks that you need to be a successful data analyst in 2023 and beyond.

There is so much information out there today and it’s hard knowing where to start. It’s easy to get lost because there are books, YouTube playlists, blogs, and newsletters that all say something different.

Unfortunately, most data analysts don’t have a roadmap to follow. Nobody ever gave them the checklist.

Use Modern Data Analyst Skill Stacks as a data career checklist so you don’t get lost and give up.

Instead of following a checklist, some data analysts end up struggling:

  • Endlessly picking the “best” tool (there isn’t one)
  • Giving up because they don’t have an in-person mentor
  • Letting impostor syndrome win and never taking the next step
  • Procrastinating until they have more time (there’s never enough time)

But this checklist will keep you on track:

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Stack #1: The Tech Skills Stack

There are only a few fundamental tech skills that every data analyst must have.

Notice how I didn’t say “you have to be an expert in every skill” here. Master the basics as quickly as possible.

Start with these skills

  1. SQL: working with databases
  2. Tableau: visualizing data
  3. Excel: the glue that holds everything together
  4. Python: automation, streamlining, modeling

Don’t get hung up on beginner mistakes

Beginner data analysts get hung up on this list because they think there are better tools.

But SQL and Excel are critical. Tableau and Python can be switched out for other tools like PowerBI and R. But Tableau and Python are what I recommend because that’s what I think is best for the modern data analyst.

If you’re not sure where to start, just use these.

My Tech Skill Stack career progression

Back in 2008, I got started knowing a lot of Excel and some SQL. I first learned SQL by helping reverse engineer a very complex Microsoft Access database system. The original develop had left the company and the database was broken! I helped convert it from MS Access to SQL server, which was much more stable.

I didn’t know any Python and had never used Tableau at the time. I only started using Tableau after about 5 years into my career, around 2013. And I’ve only gotten good at Python in the past 3 years when I took Advanced Python for Data Science at Harvard. It was an incredibly difficult course, but I learned a lot!

You can make a lot of progress very quickly with just one or two of the skills in this stack. You don’t need them all!

Learn more when you are ready

  1. 8 Websites To Sharpen Your SQL Skills
  2. Tableau Dashboards: Beginner’s Guide
  3. 8 Proven Websites To Sharpen Your Excel Skills – Even If You’re New To Excel
  4. The Step-by-Step Roadmap For Data Analysts to Get Started With Python for Performance Marketing Analytics

Stack #2: The Soft Skills Stack

Tech skills are important to get started, but soft skills are critical for success.

Because there are a lot of entry-level data analysts out there that can run queries and analyze data but they have a hard time with the soft skills.

If you’re worried about being stuck in your career, the Soft Skills stack is where you need to focus.

The 3 soft skills you need as a data analyst

  1. Critical thinking: bring creativity, curiosity, and logic to your work
  2. Problem-solving: you have to solve real-world problems
  3. Collaboration: active listening, transparency, and communication

Develop your soft skills to build trust with your coworkers

It’s easy to gloss over these, but that’s a huge mistake. Take a few minutes to reflect on where you’re at in your career: are you 100% happy? If not, these soft skills are worth digging into more.

This is because tech skills will only get you so far. You have to know how to work with others in a way that works for everyone.

For example, as a data analyst, you might get vague or unclear business requirements from a coworker or a client. They need a different cut of data or they want to add something to a dashboard. Without soft skills, you will have a really hard time doing your job well. You will be reliant on your coworkers to spell things out exactly for you, which wastes time and frustrates the people you work with.

Instead, you can use critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration to clarify the business requirements until you understand exactly what you need to do.

Your coworkers aren’t TRYING to be vague with their requirements. But if you can bring some soft skills to the table, you will be a trusted business partner in no time.

How the Soft Skill Stack helped me become a data leader

In one of my data analytics roles, I was responsible for delivering a pretty complex scorecard system that supported more than 8,000 sales reps across the entire United States.

Sure, I had the tech skills to get the job done. But my soft skills were the game changer. I went from “order taker” to project leader because I know how to work with managers and senior managers to get everyone on the same page.

That’s what it takes to be truly successful as a modern data analyst.


  1. Changing Conflict Into Collaboration (Google)
  2. The 3 Specific Professional Skills That Every Data Analyst Must Learn – With Real-World Example Scenarios
  3. 9 Things I Wish I Knew 15 Years Ago When I Was Starting In Data Analytics

Stack #3: The Writing Skill Stack

If tech skills are the foundation, and soft skills are what it takes to get to the next level, then writing skills are what will really set you apart.

And you don’t have to overthink this. By taking just a few minutes extra on your data projects, you will add a TON of value for your clients and end users.

This is because most data analysts just completely skip this skill stack. But you can become the “go to” data person in your company by writing well.

Focus on these 3 writing skills

  1. Headlines: grab attention and make your point quickly
  2. Storytelling: keep the attention and get what you want
  3. Copywriting: how to write so people actually want to read

Don’t make them think too hard

If you don’t pay attention to your writing, you’re missing out on opportunities for advancing your career. You might have an awesome analysis or some code that automates and important process, but if you can’t write about it in an interesting way, nobody is going to realize how awesome your work is.

You owe it to your boss and your coworkers to write well.

And it doesn’t have to be so hard. By focusing on just these 3 skills, you’ll work to get noticed above every other analyst out there.

How the writing skill stack landed me a promotion

I had a manager, Melissa, that really showed me the importance of writing well as a data analyst. For one project early in my data analytics career, I created a Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) adoption report to show leaders in the company how their reps were using a new (very expensive) system.

The analysis was great! And my manager knew that it was going to really help because she had spent time as a manager in the sales division.

But she knew that my analysis wasn’t going to make a difference in the company because I couldn’t clearly communicate the value. I didn’t have any headlines (it was just an Excel file), I didn’t have a story to tell, and I didn’t use any copywriting techniques.

But with Melissa’s help, I fixed up my analysis, presented it to the leaders, and my analysis became a major success and landed me a promotion.

Follow these guides so people want to read what you write

  1. 3 Simple Ways That Data Analysts Can Improve Their Writing – Plus Everything You Need To Get Started
  2. How To Write About Your Data Analytics Projects Without Being Boring – Even If You Don’t Know What To Say
  3. 3 Simple Data Storytelling Techniques You Can Use That Will Have Your Clients Actually Paying Attention To Your Next Data Analytics Project

That’s it!

Here’s the checklist:

  • [ ] Tech skills
    • [ ] SQL
    • [ ] Tableau
    • [ ] Excel
    • [ ] Python
  • [ ] Soft skills
    • [ ] Critical thinking
    • [ ] Problem-solving
    • [ ] Collaboration
  • [ ] Writing skills
    • [ ] Headlines
    • [ ] Storytelling
    • [ ] Copywriting

That’s it for today – I hope you enjoyed it.

See you again next week!

Thanks to this week’s sponsor to help keep Starting With Data free

Sync: The Ultimate Data Connector
Sync is the ultimate data connector for HubSpot/Salesforce and Google Sheets that provides real-time insights, accurate data, and advanced features like custom field mapping, incremental data sync, event triggers, and data visualization. Sign up today and start syncing your data easily with a 30-day free trial. Try Sync Now

Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. View all past issues of my newsletter here.
  2. If you’re ready to build your online data analytics portfolio, my 14-day Data Analytics Portfolio Playbook is for you.
  3. If you want actionable data analytics advice on your specific situation, book a 1:1 coaching session with me today.

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