How to Become a Business Analyst

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5 Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst

Step 1 Pursue an undergraduate degree in the appropriate field.

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.

Step 2 Supplement your primary education with computer courses.

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.

Step 3 Get certified.

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.

Step 4 Gain real-world experience.

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.

Step 5 Continue your education while you're working.

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.

FAQ on Earning Your Business Analyst Degree

Business Analyst Salary & Job Growth

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.

Alabama Mean wage annual: $71,410
Currently Employed: 73,110
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%
Alaska Mean wage annual: $78,590
Currently Employed: 13,850
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 0%
Arizona Mean wage annual: $68,190
Currently Employed: 140,330
Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A
Arkansas Mean wage annual: $61,920
Currently Employed: 49,680
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19%
California Mean wage annual: $83,500
Currently Employed: 978,370
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 12%
Colorado Mean wage annual: $77,290
Currently Employed: 178,980
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19%
Connecticut Mean wage annual: $84,300
Currently Employed: 90,370
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%
Delaware Mean wage annual: $77,540
Currently Employed: 27,680
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%
Florida Mean wage annual: $68,610
Currently Employed: 445,980
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 19%
Georgia Mean wage annual: $71,950
Currently Employed: 234,750
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13%
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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.

Finding a Business Analyst Program

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.

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Professional Business Analyst Associations & Groups

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.

  • Business Analyst Learnings

    Visit BAL for career development resources, contacts and networking opportunities, informative articles and blogs and social media groups.

  • Digital Analytics Association

    DAA is a professional organization dedicated to serving business analysts and other professionals whose work involves the use of data and digital platforms.

  • International Engineering Requirements Board

    Professionals in the business analysis field can benefit from the three-level certification concept developed and administered by the IERB.

  • International Institute of Business Analysts

    IIBA is the most prominent and widely recognized association for business analysts around the world.

  • Modern Analyst

    Modern Analyst provides extensive networking opportunities through Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms exclusively for business and systems analysts.

Resources for Business 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.

  • Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK)

    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.

  • Business Analyst Times

    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.

  • The Business Analyst's Guide to Networking on LinkedIn

    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.

  • 'How to Start a Business Analyst Career'

    This book serves as a thorough and actionable guide to becoming a business analyst.

  • ICCP

    ICCP provides assessment, certification, education and ethics enforcement for a range of business, computer and data analytics professionals.