How to Become a Business Analyst in 2022

Since business analysts, sometimes known as management analysts, make data-driven business decisions, prototype products and make IT recommendations, they are central to the operations of several large companies—with a number of professionals boasting desirable salaries to match.

But how do you become a business analyst, and what should you expect once you’re hired? Here are some common steps to consider to become a business analyst:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Pursue an advanced degree.
  3. Fine-tune your technical skills and business capabilities.

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Harvard University

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Certificate in Business Analytics

Harvard’s 9-month certificate program equips high-level executives with the data and analytics skill set to lead their organizations to the industry forefront.

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Pepperdine University

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Master of Science in Business Analytics

Earn your MS in Business Analytics online from Pepperdine University. Learn advanced tools like Python, Tableau, SQL, Hadoop, and Excel.

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Syracuse University

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Master of Science in Business Analytics

Looking to become a data-savvy leader? Earn your online Master of Science in Business Analytics from Syracuse University.

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University of Dayton

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Master of Business Analytics

Gain in-demand analytics skills with an online master’s in business analytics. Complete in as few as 12 months.

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American University

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Master of Science in Analytics

American University’s online MS in Analytics program prepares students to apply data analysis skills to real-world business practices. The program can be completed in 12 months. No GMAT/GRE required. 

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Steps to Become a Business Analyst

Though every journey is different, becoming a business analyst generally requires you to complete a number of steps. Let’s examine them in turn.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree is usually the first step to becoming an entry-level business analyst, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Though there are no specific requirements about what you study, having a background in finance, business, economics, marketing or psychology may prove useful.

Please also note that while you normally only need a bachelor’s degree to become a business analyst, some employers may expect prospective candidates to have earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) too.

2. Pursue an advanced degree in business analytics, data science, statistics, computer science, information management, finance or economics.

To pursue a business analytics position at a management level—or even higher—you may need to complete an advanced degree. Consider enrolling in a master’s in business analytics or a master’s in business administration program to distinguish yourself in a crowded field. These programs generally only take one year to finish.

3. Fine-tune your technical skills and business capabilities.

Beyond taking formal business analytics courses at a university, candidates may explore other avenues to expand their technical skills—unsurprising, given how important IT is to the profession. Though there are many potential areas of study, here are some common choices available at bootcamps across the country:

A number of supplementary online business analyst courses are also available from universities. Generally lasting weeks, these programs cover a range of topics from checking warehouse inventories to harvesting spreadsheet data. Whatever you study, modules are often self-paced, meaning you can bolster your education while continuing to work. In short, decide on a focus and then make it happen!

If you’re unsure you can meet the steps above, check out our guide on how to become a business analyst with no experience.

What Is a Business Analyst?

Business analysts are increasingly crucial to successful business operations across a variety of industries. But what does it mean by working as a business analyst? Acting as a bridge between the business community and technical solutions providers, business analysts ensure new IT projects are designed and implemented properly. Whether developing a new database or boosting a firm’s cloud capability, business analysts are responsible for guaranteeing that projects meet business objectives and boost the company’s bottom line.

Because they’re so integrated into the world of IT, business analysts often keep abreast of new technology, knowing what’s on the horizon and how it could support a firm’s people and processes. At the same time, they anticipate broader business challenges before they appear, being as comfortable in the boardroom as they are in the tech department.

Finally, business analysts keep an eye on how completed projects are progressing. From preventing hacks to tweaking the backend, their work keeps going.

What Does a Business Analyst Do?

With a number of overlapping responsibilities, business analysts are always busy. On any given day, they might be asked to complete a wide range of tasks including:

  • Identifying opportunities for improvement in business operations and processes
  • Meeting customers and users, as well as subject matter experts and other stakeholders, to understand their IT needs
  • Prototyping and modeling products and processes
  • Designing or modifying business or IT systems
  • Solving business problems and designing technical solutions
  • Documenting the functional and technical design of an IT system
  • Working with system architects and developers to ensure the system is properly implemented
  • Helping to test the system and create system documentation and user manuals
  • Facilitating workshops to establish shared understanding among diverse stakeholders
  • Understanding when a system is out-of-date and organizing a replacement

Overall, business analysts have varying degrees of technical know-how. The benefit of this approach is that they can often see the big picture—the scope of the challenges within their industry. On the other hand, some come at the same problems with extensive knowledge of IT processes. And then there are those who are comfortable in both camps.

Certain roles (like a business systems analyst) may be much more technical than others (PDF, 154 KB). So, when you’re looking at job descriptions, examine the fine print first, or be ready to brush up on your coding skills.

Business Analysts Skills

What makes a good business analyst? Focused on both business and technology, business analysts are comfortable in a range of work environments. Here are some common business analyst traits, according to O*NET OnLine. Remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Communication Skills: Understanding client needs. Explaining changes to management. Problem-solving with IT. Communication is central to a business analyst’s day-to-day—so it’s important to hone your spoken and written skills as you start out in your career.

Technical Skills: Business analysts are comfortable in the world of IT. In practice, that means they understand the latest software, what it can do and any limitations it may have.

Analytical Skills: As the name suggests, finding practical solutions to theoretical problems requires analysts to be deeply analytical. After all, one part of the job is analyzing data, documents, user input surveys and workflow—all sharpening business practices.

Decision-Making Skills: Responsible for the implementation of complex IT systems, business analysts often make important decisions. Those who plan to pursue a business analyst career will have to assess complex situations, receive input from stakeholders and then promptly select a way forward.

Managerial Skills: Whether planning project scopes or directing staff, handling changes or forecasting budgets, one thing is certain: Business analysts often employ project management skills.

How Much Does a Business Analyst Make?

Though the job isn’t highlighted by name, the BLS reports that management analysts (synonymous with business analysts) earned a median annual salary of $87,660 in 2020. The highest earners earn significantly more, with the top 10% making more than $156,840.

Geography is an important factor in determining salary. According to the BLS, for example, management analysts in New York earned a mean annual salary of $113,560 in 2020 compared to $84,120 in Florida. For more information on how much a business analyst makes, explore our business analyst salary guide.

Business Analyst Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the demand for management analysts is due to grow by 14% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Once again, it’s important to understand that this varies by location.

Wherever you work, you’ll be expected to handle a number of responsibilities. From interpreting trends in sales and purchasing to making predictions about future consumer behavior, business analysts are trained to use data to help businesses and organizations succeed. Working in tandem with other departments, including market research, product development and top-level management, business analysts contribute to a corporation’s overall strategy—both internally and externally.

Business Analyst Professional Organizations

Need professional assistance? Want more information? There are a number of business analyst professional organizations, so reach out if you have any questions!

Interested in a Different Career? Check Out Our Bootcamp Guides Below

Business Analysts FAQs

Still have questions about becoming a business analyst? Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to consider as you gather information about the field and the profession:

How do I become a business analyst?

There are various ways to become a business analyst. You may want to determine your career goals as a first step, then gain a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Some skills such as analytical and communication skills may help you grow to be a good business analyst. Learn more about how to become a business analyst.

What are the qualifications required to become a business analyst?

The qualifications for business analyst positions vary depending on the organization and an analyst’s career goals. A bachelor’s degree is typically required for most business analyst positions. However, a master’s degree in business analytics may be useful for more advanced roles.

What are the steps to become a business analyst?

Everyone’s path is different, but there are a few common steps you may take to become a business analyst—the first of which is earning a bachelor’s degree. Depending on your career path, you may need other qualifications, including certifications or an advanced degree.

What is the career growth for a business analyst?

According to the BLS, the demand for management analysts (the same as business analysts) is due to grow by 14% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, this growth varies depending on where you work and which industry you focus on.

Last updated January 2022.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.