Virtually all business analysts have bachelor’s degrees, although many go onto achieve master’s degrees and other advanced education. They often come from academic backgrounds that include undergraduate degrees in accounting, finance or business administration.
While pursuing your undergraduate degree, you should make sure to supplement your education with computer programming, computer science and related courses. Different business analyst niches require different levels of computer proficiency and technical prowess, but business analysts generally serve as the bridge between a company’s core departments and its IT department. The more computer and technical education a person has, the better prepared that person will be when it comes time to look for a job.
Graduates can gain critical supplementary knowledge while making their resumes shine by achieving a respected certification. For many, the first step is to earn the prestigious International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) certification. IIBA is the globally recognized trade association and governing body for the business analyst industry.
You can get an early jump by pursuing summer internships in related fields while you’re still studying. If your school requires or encourages volunteer work, you can offer your skills and time pro bono for a small company that may not be able to afford a more advanced business analyst. If you’re already working in a different capacity, ask your supervisors and managers to consider you for projects that require business analysis, or to put you on a team that includes a working business analyst.
By this stage in the process, you’ll likely have a much better grasp about the niche, field, industry and environment to which you’d like to dedicate your career. This is a perfect time to pursue a master’s degree, an advanced certificate or both, focusing more specifically on the exact career path you’re pursuing. When you emerge from the process, you’ll be a highly qualified candidate with both advanced education and real-world experience.
You might be able to leapfrog over entry-level positions if you’ve worked in an applicable field prior to or during your pursuit of a business analyst degree. For example, software developers often have skill sets that make the transition natural and easy. Just working for a company that employs business analysts could make you stand out to hiring managers who may be impressed by your mastery of that company’s stakeholders, organizational structure and business model.
The Holy Grail of business analyst education is the academic trifecta of IT, business and communication. Business analysts must understand the world of business and the technology that drives those businesses, and they must be fluent in the languages of both departments. A blend of communications, computer science and broad-spectrum business competency is the right formula to use as a jumping-off point for nearly all entry-level business analyst positions.
Visual modeling and other graphic representations are a key part of the business analyst’s toolbox, as is a strong working knowledge of analysis tools that harvest, organize and interpret large data sets.
No matter which specialty you end up pursuing, you’ll benefit from an education centered on sales and marketing, elicitation and facilitation, as well as problem-solving as it pertains to the development of business solutions.
Business analysts must have excellent time-management skills and possess the ability to think critically. Not only must business analysts be able to handle change, but they will be relied upon to continually foster and drive positive change in the environments where they operate.
If you’re considering a career as a business analyst, you’re probably curious about how much money you can expect to earn along the way. According to salary data site Glassdoor, the average business analyst earns $70,170 a year, with the average entry-level employee earning $65,000 and a senior business analyst pulling in an average annual salary of $88,000. Business analysts can also expect to have their checks padded with average non-salary annual compensation of $5,496. That, however, is the average. Salary data site PayScale lists the median annual salary as $58,805 and informs prospective candidates that most data analysts receive raises during their first decade before moving on to other positions after roughly 20 years.
Definitive job outlook predictions and statistics for business analysts are difficult to come by. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks trends and numbers for management analysts, who perform similar duties and whose job title is often used interchangeably with that of business analyst. Employment for management analysts is expected to grow by 14 percent in the decade between 2016-2026, which is faster than projected growth in the general job market. A recent report issued by the University of California, Irvine predicts varied growth for six different business analyst specialties between 2012-2022. The spectrum starts at 6.1 percent projected growth for budget analysts and goes all the way up to 31.6 percent projected growth for market research analysts and marketing specialists.
When researching potential academic programs that could lead to a career as a business analyst, you already know to focus on business or a related field with supplementary study in communications and computer science — but subject matter isn’t the only consideration. Cost is obviously a deciding factor, but so is the method of delivery. Online education, for example, provides distance learners with incredible flexibility in scheduling without sacrificing quality in learning. Accelerated courses will speed up the process, but the individual courses are likely to be heavier and more challenging. You might be able to spend significantly less money by starting your academic journey at a community college or another two-year school, but it’s critical in that case to make sure your credits will transfer when you move to a four-year college or university. This search tool is a good place to start in your journey toward finding the program that’s right for you.
Business analysts connect IT departments with the larger business divisions — and it’s important for them to stay connected to each other, as well. From trade associations and networking groups to industry-specific job boards and ongoing education centers, these groups and communities exist solely to unite and empower both current and future business analysts.
Visit BAL for career development resources, contacts and networking opportunities, informative articles and blogs and social media groups.
DAA is a professional organization dedicated to serving business analysts and other professionals whose work involves the use of data and digital platforms.
Professionals in the business analysis field can benefit from the three-level certification concept developed and administered by the IERB.
IIBA is the most prominent and widely recognized association for business analysts around the world.
Modern Analyst provides extensive networking opportunities through Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms exclusively for business and systems analysts.
Business analysis is a complicated field. The following resources can help you chart your career, pursue your education, learn more about the industry and help you develop a better understanding of what to expect when you start working.
Developed and distributed by IIBA, the BABOK guide is the definitive work for business analysts. Created in conjunction with 150 researchers and writers from 20 countries, the BABOK guide is the closest thing business analysts have to an industry bible.
Dedicated solely to the profession and the industry, BA Times offers webinars, job boards, articles, white papers and other useful resources that are critical both to industry professionals and aspiring business analysts.
This tutorial is designed specifically for business analysts and prospective business analysts who are seeking to expand their networks on the world’s largest professional social media channel.
This book serves as a thorough and actionable guide to becoming a business analyst.
ICCP provides assessment, certification, education and ethics enforcement for a range of business, computer and data analytics professionals.