One of our guest speakers at this year’s TechRepublic Event was Grace Simrall, a data analyst at iGlass Analytics, where she helps companies in a wide variety of verticals (healthcare, retail, finance) achieve their Business Intelligence goals.

I asked Grace what she would recommend someone do if he or she were interested in the field of data analysis. She said she thought it was too soon to tell the value of certification or master’s degree programs in analytics and that it was probably a good idea to actually try out the work before investing in a degree. She said that it’s more important to demonstrate that you’re able to get your hands dirty and execute what’s asked for.

In the meantime, she recommends several free online courses to help you learn what’s involved in the field of analytics and whether you think you’ll like it. Here are some of the free resources she recommended:

1. – Free Hadoop courses

2. Stanford University’s free online courses with two tracks: basic – watch lectures, take simple quizzes; advanced – full class w/homework & tests

3. Youtube University – multiple channels

4. MIT Open Courseware

5. Khan Academy

Grace’s experience with business intelligence (BI) began at the University of Chicago when she implemented an enterprise asset management system that would become the foundation for tracking operational efficiency across the university. Grace received her SB in Geophysical Science from the University of Chicago and her MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Louisville, Speed School of Engineering.