How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst? [2022 Guide]

A business intelligence analyst uses data a company has collected and analyzes it to help the company make informed decisions to help improve efficiency. A business intelligence analyst typically uses various tools and techniques to query databases, identify trends and produce reports for management. One goal is to use a mix of big data and an understanding of the business to create actionable insights to help give the company a competitive edge. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a business intelligence analyst.

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University of Dayton

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American University

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Harvard University

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What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst?

If you’re searching for the answer to “what is business intelligence” or “what does a business intelligence analyst do,” read on. Business intelligence is a field that combines data analytics with business acumen. You may want to think of it as applied statistical analysis. The analysis aspect calls on skills in data management, statistics and computer science. The business intelligence aspect comes into play by using data to answer questions and understand trends that are useful for management to guide the company’s strategy.

A business analyst may combine technical and non-technical skills to bridge the gap between management and business analytics. Business intelligence involves understanding the company’s past performance to understand the current state and influence future actions.

Retailers tap business intelligence data to understand which products customers are likely to buy next based on their purchase habits. Another example could be a warehouse company identifying the most frequently shipped products and placing those closest to the packing tables for faster fulfillment.

Business intelligence analysts use data, statistical analysis and data visualization to develop predictive statistical models that inform decision-making. They typically analyze past data to understand the results.

A business intelligence analyst may look at data and identify insights to improve the organization’s ability to make well-informed decisions about future actions. If you’re interested in becoming a business intelligence analyst, you may want to seek courses to learn the following skills:

  • Descriptive analytics
  • Predictive analytics
  • Data collection methods
  • A/B testing
  • Forecasting
  • Correlation and causation
  • Regression analysis
  • Data visualization and interpretation

Other skills include problem-solving and communication.

Business intelligence analysts may work in a variety of industries including marketing, finance or accounting.

Five Common Steps to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

The career path for a business intelligence analyst often begins with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business mathematics, statistics, economic, accounting or related fields, though different career paths are possible. The role requires both hard skills such as data modeling and statistics as well as soft skills like problem-solving and communication.

Obtain a Professional Certificate

One way to get started is obtaining a professional certificate that reflects your skills and expertise.

Depending on the specifics of your undergraduate preparation, data science bootcamps or online business analytics courses may help prepare you for opportunities in your chosen position. Courses may offer a certificate that confirms your participation and completion of the course work. These programs may help you develop specific skill sets or how to use standard business intelligence software tools and data analysis techniques.

Try looking for certifications for specific tools such as

The Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) certification from Transforming Data with Intelligence is tailored to business intelligence practitioners. Before they can take the exam, applicants must meet the requirements, including at least two years of full-time experience and at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Depending on your score on the test, you can complete it at either the “practitioner” or “mastery” level. The certification may help you distinguish yourself professionally with a test-based credential.

Obtaining a professional certificate may help boost your career to find the first job in the field or transition to a new role.

Pursue an Advanced Degree

An advanced degree, such as a master’s in business analytics, may help prepare professionals to advance in their careers. Depending on the desired career path, a master’s in business administration (MBA) may also give students the education they need to continue to rise in their careers.

A master’s in business analytics degree focuses on prescriptive and predictive techniques to help companies understand what they should do in the future and what may happen next in their industry. In comparison, a master’s in data science concentrates more on machine learning, cloud computing and database systems. A business analytics degree typically covers data extraction, manipulation and visualization to answer business operations questions and provide insights for improving performance. Similar to business analytics programs, online master’s in data science programs are available too.

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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.

  • As few as 18 months to complete 
  • No GRE required to apply

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To select a program, examine master’s in business analytics admissions requirements and curriculum. Make sure to look at the prerequisites required and how that fits with your bachelor’s degree. For example, if you lack data science courses and knowledge of data science is a requirement, then you may be required to take classes to ensure you have the skill level necessary for the program. If you plan on maintaining a work schedule while going to school, you may want to consider an online master’s in business analytics.

Apply for a Business Intelligence Analyst Position

The job description for a business intelligence analyst will vary by the company and its role. A business intelligence analyst analyzes a company’s data, as well as industry and competitor data, to understand their company’s performance and position in the marketplace. This may involve working across departments and systems to examine the company’s processes and procedures with the goal of improving financial and operational performance.

You may secure an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study or complete additional training such as an online bootcamp. Some companies may prefer work experience before moving into a business intelligence analyst role. Analysts may also serve as formal or informal project managers, so supervisory experience may be valuable as well.

A resume can showcase your skills and education, and it is important to include certifications and any side projects that highlight your experience.

An interview for a business intelligence position may include a mix of skill and behavioral questions to ascertain the applicant’s soft and hard skills. Employers may look for  confidence in your communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills.

The analyst may also want to demonstrate knowledge of common analytical tools and solutions that could be used in their daily work. Some companies use puzzles or case studies to test applicants’ ability to form a process to understand a problem and find the answer. The question may not have an actual answer, but the company wants to see how the applicant would approach problems with uncertain parameters.

Never Stop Learning

It may be useful for a business intelligence analyst to learn about coding languages and data science tools.

Online courses are available to learn new languages and help you stay current on skills. Some languages are open source or popular enough that free resources are available. Bootcamps and intensive courses are other avenues for getting up to speed.

Here’s a list of the languages and tools to explore to build up technical skills:

The programming languages used may vary by the industry sector and employer, so you may not encounter all of the languages at one company.

Networking Is Key to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

For a business intelligence analyst, networking is a skill that may be helpful in addition to any technical knowledge.

For job seekers, networking is a common way to learn about potential employers and introduce yourself in an informal setting. Through networking, you may learn about open positions that aren’t posted or meet people who would consider finding a place for you in their organization. It also may be a possible way to learn what companies are looking for in hiring for the position. You may also receive feedback in an informal networking setting that you wouldn’t otherwise get in an interview.

For business intelligence analysts working in an organization, networking may help you accomplish your tasks more effectively. An analyst may often work with various departments and groups, so networking may help you get to know those people and form an effective team.

Business Intelligence Analyst Job Outlook

According to the O*NET OnLine, the job outlook for business intelligence analysts is bright. Expected job growth for management analysts is 14%, according to the BLS—much faster than the average job, which has a projected 8% growth rate in the same 2020–2030 time period. O*NET OnLine indicates that about 7,100 openings for business intelligence analysts are projected between 2020 to 2030.

The median business intelligence analyst salary was $98,230 in 2020 or $47.23 an hour. Business analysts may find roles working directly for companies, consulting firms, government entities and as self-employed analysts.

Last updated: April 2022