An FAQ that gets asks in tech communities and Quora is "What is the difference between data analyst and data scientist?"

I am going to attempt to answer it based on experience and discussions I have with friends, employers and tech community. Most of you maybe familiar with the 4 levels of Analytics namely:

1-Descriptive  - Describing the past

2-Diagnostic - Why the past happened?

3-Predictive - Based on current observation what is the likely outcome?

4-Prescriptive  - How can I take advantage of the likely outcome?

So both data analyst & #data scientist, performs in all 4 levels. Its more on the emphasis and methods.  

The data analyst is focused on Level 1 & 2, finding out what has happened and the reason for the past. They still perform Level 3 & 4 but with less sophisticated tools like simple extrapolations or centrality measures. So the data analyst are more involved in the business intelligence or reporting side of things. The methods/tools they are more focused on is designing business performance metrics, Data Visualization and dashboard design. In addition they will need good analysis skills to look out for possible trends and patterns in their work.

The data scientist on the other hand focused on the Level 3 & 4, they often use more sophisticated tools like machine learning models for their analysis and in some organization build data products from it. Mathematical models have a lot more involvement in their work and they often discuss which machine learning model is suitable, the implementation of the machine learning learning model etc. You can see from here now, their methods/tools are usually machine learning model, optimization model, heuristic algorithms etc. The maths that they deal with are more sophisticated compared to the data analyst.

Possible Career Path

Having said that, I strongly believe that there is a career path from data analyst to data scientist and if one is interested, becomes an AI scientist as well. I also believe that data scientist should do reporting work as well, so they are familiar with the nuances of the organization's data and business (operations, revenue model, market it is serving etc). And...both job roles have to perform data cleaning. I find it quite laughable and sad at the same time when I hear people tell me that they came across a data scientist (must be by title only) that does not know how to clean data. So yes! All job role that deals with data have to learn to clean data.

Hope the post will have clarify what the two different job roles, data analyst and data scientist are about.