Business analysts are the fix-it men and women of the corporate world. Their job is to improve business processes (e.g. productivity, output, distribution, etc.) and their solutions are often technological ones.
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Business Analyst Responsibilities
Business analysts have high-powered, high octane jobs. On any given day, they 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
1. Pursue a degree in business analytics, data science, statistics, computer science, information management, finance or economics.
To be considered qualified for entry level positions in business analytics, a bachelor’s degree is essential. Undergraduate programs in analytics, business functions, and statistics are quite common and vital to developing basic skills in the field.
In order to be considered for analytics positions at a management or higher level, however, an advanced degree like a masters or doctorate will be crucial. Consider enrolling in a masters of business analytics program to separate yourself from the field and achieve career advancement.
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2. Fine tune both your technical skills and business capabilities.
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.
3. Consider additional certifications for business analytics professionals.
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 for 2018: How much does a business analyst make?
Because the term “business analyst” may mean anything from a lower level analyst to an extremely well-paid independent consultant, you’ll find significant variations in salary statistics. According to PayScale, the best-paying jobs for a business analyst (unspecified) congregate around San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Houston – the sites of major global, IT and financial corporations.
Average Salary: $70,170 per year
Median Salary: $59,292 per year
Total Pay Range: $43,008 – $82,755
Business Analyst, IT
Median Salary: $67,500 per year
Total Pay Range: $48,514 – $95,660
Business Intelligence Analyst
Average Salary: $79,613 per year
Median Salary: $65,980 per year
Total Pay Range: $47,972 – $93,533
Note: Salary information from Glassdoor and PayScale was retrieved as of January 2018.
Business Analyst Jobs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports from 2016-2026, the career field of management analysis, closest reported title to business analysts, will experience 14% growth, much faster than the national average.
There are many 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.