Business analysts help improve business processes (e.g. productivity, output, distribution, etc.) and their solutions are typically technological ones.
Business Analyst Responsibilities
On any given day, a management analyst, also known as a business analyst may be asked to:
- Establish the objectives and scope of business and IT systems
- Identify multifaceted organizational problems and devise data-driven solutions
- Conduct statistical analyses, surveys, training workshops and tests
- Recommend changes to processes, personnel or product offerings to make internal departments more efficient
- Invent new systems (e.g. stock control) or alter existing ones
- Make specific IT recommendations and support their implementation
- Act as a liaison between management and technical developers (e.g. system architects)
Business analysts have varying degrees of technical know-how. Some tackle each job by employing their know-how in business administration, finance or management. The benefit of this approach is that they can see the “big picture” – the scope of the challenge within the industry. Others come at the problem with extensive knowledge of IT processes.
Note: Although the roles are often merged in small companies, the job of a Business Systems Analyst (BSA) may be much more technical in nature (e.g. coding, designing programs, etc.) than a conventional analyst. When you’re looking at job descriptions, examine the fine print to determine what your tasks might be.
How to Become a Business Analyst
Below are common steps to become a business analyst.
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree is the first step to becoming an entry-level business analyst. Common programs of study include business, finance, and economics and may help you develop skills in the field. However, some employers may prefer candidates who have earned a master’s degree.
2. Pursue a degree in business analytics, data science, statistics, computer science, information management, finance or economics.
In order to be considered for analytics positions at a management or higher level, however, an advanced degree may be necessary to continue up the ranks. Consider enrolling in a masters of business analytics program to separate yourself from the field and achieve career advancement.
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3. Fine tune both your technical skills and business capabilities.
Common Technical Skills for Business Analysts
- Statistical analysis software (e.g. R, SAS, SPSS, or STATA)
- SQL databases and database querying languages
- Programming skills (if possible)
- Survey/query software
- Business intelligence and reporting software
- Data mining
- Data visualization
- Database design
Since new data tools are being invented every day, this technical list is subject to change.
Business Skills for Business Analysts
- Analytic Problem-Solving: Employing best practices to analyze large amounts of data while maintaining intense attention to detail.
- Effective Communication: Using reports and presentations to explain complex technical ideas and methods to an audience of laymen.
- Creative Thinking: Questioning established business practices and brainstorming new approaches to data analysis.
- Industry Knowledge: Understanding what drives your chosen industry (link) and how data can contribute to the success of a company/organization strategy.
4. Consider additional certifications for business analytics professionals.
You may earn certifications to help demonstrate your capabilities core skills, learn about latest variants of software and technology, or branch out into a specialization. Certifications may help if you are interested in advancing to a new position after you’ve been working for some time. Employers may not necessarily require specific certification, but your chosen certification may signal competency in a specialty area.
An Interview with a Real Business Analyst
We interviewed Chris Hunter, Business Analyst at Monster Worldwide, to find out what it takes to succeed as a business analyst. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of being a business analyst, their impact on Monster’s overall success, and Chris’s advice to students.
A: The best advice I can offer to interested students is to ask any and all questions early. Our job is to understand data, explain patterns, showcase trends and offer insights, all of which can be a complex process, so ask away!For students and recent grads, I highly recommend finding a job via Monster! But in all seriousness, finding the right business analyst role requires patience and diligence. I assumed I’d find work right out of school, but it took more than half a year to find this ‘monster’ opportunity.
Lastly, students should access great resources, such as industry books, trade articles and more, to understand the variety of roles that they may find themselves in. Likewise, keeping up on trends, data environments and new methods will always add to your skill sets. Whether through a certification, class or conference, always be hungry to keep learning and growing.
Business Analyst Salary in 2021: How much does a business analyst make?
According to 2019 data from the O*NET, Business Analysts make an average of $85,260 per year. Below are some salaries for a few similar jobs, according to the BLS.
Average Salary for Business Analyst $85,260
Total Pay Range: $49,000 – $154,000
Average Salary for Financial Analyst: $85,660 per year
Total Pay Range: $52,540 – $167,420
Average Salary for Budget Analysts: $76,540 per year
Total Pay Range: $50,230 – $116,510
Business Analyst Jobs
O*NET reports from 2019-2029, the career field of business analysis, will experience 8% growth, much faster than the national average.
There are a number of job responsibilities that a business analyst in an organization must be prepared to handle. From interpreting trends in sales and purchasing to making predictions about future consumer behavior, business analysts are prepared to use data to help businesses and organizations succeed. Working in tandem with various departments, such as market research, product development, and top-level management, business analysts are an integral part of a corporation’s overall strategy – both internally and externally.
Business Analyst Professional Organizations
- International Institute of Business Analysis
- Association of Business Process Management Professionals International
- International Institute for Analytics (IIA)
- American Statistical Association
- SIGMOD (ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data)
- Digital Analytics Association
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Last updated: August 2020