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How to Become a Business Analyst

Business Analyst

How to Become a Business Analyst

What Does a Business Analyst Do?

Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst

Skills Needed to Become a Business Analyst

Business Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

FAQs: How to Become a Business Analyst

Are you considering a career as a business analyst? If you are, this guide has got you covered! In it, we’ll go over how to become a business analyst, what business analysts do, their career outlook, and more!

Becoming a business analyst is an excellent career choice for those who enjoy problem-solving and are interested in helping companies succeed! This career is not only rewarding but in high demand, as almost every industry needs business analysts! 

To learn more about how to join this profession and excel in it, read on!

What Does a Business Analyst Do?

Let’s start with the basics; what does a business analyst do?

Business analysts are largely responsible for identifying inefficiencies in businesses and recommending solutions to improve their performance. The exact roles of these professionals include:

  • Identifying and communicating with key stakeholders
  • Communicating between various departments 
  • Gathering, reviewing, and analyzing business data, such as KPIs, financial reports, and other key metrics
  • Using data analytics tools to identify patterns, trends, issues, and insights
  • Assessing options for process improvement
  • Creating solutions to meet business needs
  • Assisting in project management activities
  • Managing changes to business processes by creating training manuals and communicating with affected parties
  • Maintaining documentation regarding various projects, processes, and operations
  • Identifying and creating long-term business goals and developing plans to achieve them

Joining this career can offer you a high degree of flexibility because various industries require business analysts. You’ll often also have the option of working remotely or in-person. Some of the most popular industries that business analysts enter are:

  • Finance and Banking: to analyze financial data and identify ways to improve profitability
  • Information Technology: commonly in software development companies or IT consulting firms to test, evaluate, and recommend new ways to enhance software and IT processes
  • Healthcare: to organize and analyze patient data, streamline processes, identify ways to save costs, and improve patient outcomes
  • Retail: to identify trends and patterns in sales data, revenue growth, and customer behavior to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Manufacturing: to optimize production processes, manage supply chains, reduce costs, and improve quality
  • Government: to analyze data regarding demographics, behavioral, consumption, and other factors to help develop policies to improve services and outcomes
  • Non-profit: to assist with the development of strategies for fundraising, outreach, and impact

Business analysts may work for just one company or as independent consultants, providing their expertise to multiple clients at once on a contract basis. 

Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst

Now that you know what this profession entails, the next step is to learn how to become a business analyst

There isn’t just one path to join this profession. Often, people begin working at a company in an entry-level position and work their way up as they gain expertise and experience. However, these are the general steps people to take to become business analysts

Step One: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Most business analyst positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and many employers prefer candidates who have a degree in a related field, such as business administration, finance, economics, or even computer science

It’s also recommended that you minor in communications or information technology to best prepare for the field. 

Bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years to complete. Regardless of the college you get into, ensure you take courses involving mathematics, statistics, finance, accounting, and business. 

It may even help to take a few psychology classes to help understand human behaviour if you’re planning on working in a field like healthcare or retail! 

Step Two: Join Internships

While obtaining your bachelor’s degree, you should focus on developing your analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, as these are vital to succeed in the field. Consider participating in internships, co-op programs, or other experiential learning opportunities to gain practical experience and make connections in the industry.

Step Three: Consider a Master’s Degree

While a graduate degree is not required to join this field, having it can bolster your credentials and lead to more career opportunities, higher salaries, and advanced roles. Around 36% of business analysts hold a master’s degree, so it’s worth looking into!

The most popular master’s degrees business analysts pursue are MBAs or Master’s in Business Analytics. These degrees take one to two years to complete.

Step Four: Gain Work Experience

After completing your degree(s), you’ll be expected to gain work experience before qualifying for business analyst positions. Many entry-level business analyst positions require one to three years of experience in a related field. 

The two recommended jobs that students seek out to gain this hands-on experience include becoming quality assurance engineers or software developers. Both of these jobs involve assessing clients’ needs, using that information to create new prototypes, and refining existing and new products for efficiency.

Some companies also provide formal on-the-job training programs and mentoring. These programs can be an excellent way to gain experience and develop skills while beginning to get your feet wet in the field.

Step Five: Develop Your Technical Skills

Business analysts need strong technical skills to work with large data sets, analyze reports, and develop insights. They should be proficient in database management, understand how to use data analysis tools such as SQL and Excel, and have a good grasp on programming languages such as Python or Java.

Business analysts also need to be familiar with data visualization tools to create reports and presentations that communicate their findings to stakeholders. While you can develop the majority of these skills as you gain experience in related fields, you should also work on them during your spare time. 

There are many online courses, some free and some not, that can help you develop these technical skills. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) can also help you find training resources. Consider taking on projects on the side that can help build your resume and prove your interest in the field. 

Step Six: Consider Certification

This step in becoming a business analyst is not necessary, but can advance your career and make you a more competitive applicant. The three core certifications that business analysts pursue are:

  • The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA): for junior analysts just beginning their careers
  • The Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA): for mid-level business analysts
  • The Certified Business Analyst Processional (CBAP): the highest-level certification for seasoned professionals 

All of these certifications are offered through the IIBA. According to recent studies conducted by the IIBA, certification holders earn 25% more than non-certified business analysts!

Step Seven: Stay Up-to-Date With Trends

The field of business analysis is constantly evolving, with new tools, techniques, and practices emerging all the time. It’s important you stay up-to-date with the trends in your industry to remain competitive and effective. 

You may do so through your own research, attending workshops, joining forums, or pursuing additional courses or certifications to learn about new tools as they emerge. 

Skills Needed to Become a Business Analyst

To ensure you become the best business analyst possible, hone the following skills:

  • Analytical Skills: to interpret data, identify patterns and trends, and make informed decisions based on that analysis
  • Problem-Solving Skills: to find areas that require improvement, analyze the root causes, and develop solutions to address those problems
  • Communication Skills: to communicate effectively with stakeholders at all levels of the organization, including executives, managers, and end-users and explain technical concepts in simple terms 
  • Technical Skills: you’ll require a good understanding of software development processes, programming languages, and data analytic tools
  • Project Management Skills: to manage projects effectively, including developing project plans, refining processes, and managing resources
  • Time Management Skills: you must know how to prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget
  • Interpersonal Skills: to work effectively with others, including team members, stakeholders, and end-users and build trust with their clients
  • Leadership Skills: you may be responsible for leading project teams or managing stakeholders, so you must be able to motivate your team to reach the company’s goals

These are just eight of the key skills needed to become a successful business analyst. To ensure you thrive in your career, it’s essential you continue to develop these skills and stay current with industry trends.

Business Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

The final factor to discuss when exploring how to become a business analyst is their salary and job outlook. As we’ve already explained, business analysts are vital parts of almost every industry. They ensure businesses run smoothly by improving their productivity and profitability. As such, they are in high-demand.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected 11% job growth in this field, which is much faster than the average. Additionally, these professionals are well-paid for their expertise, with their median annual salary being $93,000.

Business analysts are paid the highest in New York, where they make an average of $120,730 a year, however there are more than double the job openings per year in California

FAQs: How to Become a Business Analyst 

In this guide, we’ve covered the basics of this lucrative and in-demand profession. For any remaining questions about how to become a business analyst, read on to find your answers!

1. How Long Does it Take to Become a Business Analyst?

The timeline to become a business analyst depends on several factors, including the education you pursue and your experience. All business analysts must obtain a bachelor’s degree in a business-related program which will take four years to complete. 

Then, you can also gain a master’s degree if you wish to become a more competitive applicant. This will add one to two years to your timeline.

Once you’ve completed your education, you will have to gain at least one to three years of hands-on experience in the field before qualifying for entry-level business analyst positions. All in all, you can expect the process to take between five and nine years!

2. How Do I Start a Career In Business Analytics?

The first step to starting a career in business analytics is to gain the right education. Considering you’ll be working in both business and finance, choose a major that is related to these subjects.

To make yourself a more competitive applicant, you should also minor in communication or information technology as these subjects are crucial to the field. As you complete your degree, participate in internships, co-ops, or other learning opportunities to begin honing your professional skills and building your network. 

You may complete a master’s to bolster your credentials, but it is not necessary. Once you graduate, begin gaining as much hands-on experience as possible. Use the relationships you created through your internships to your advantage! Continue honing your technical and soft skills and taking on projects to build your portfolio.

3. Is It Hard to Become a Business Analyst?

Becoming a business analyst can be demanding. You’ll be expected to complete at least one difficult degree and seek opportunities to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the field. You will have to keep busy and take on projects to ensure you build a comprehensive resume and stand out as an applicant.

4. Can I Become a Business Analyst Without a Degree?

Due to the technical nature of this work, it is very unlikely to become a business analyst without a bachelor’s degree. 

5. How Can I Become a Business Analyst With No Experience?

Becoming a business analyst without any experience will be difficult, considering most entry-level positions require at least one year of experience. However, if you pursue a master’s degree, such as an MBA, you will be more qualified for these positions because of your advanced education and training. 

Nonetheless, business analytics are best learned through practice, so it’s best you try to gain experience through co-op programs or internships during your studies at the very least!

Final Thoughts

Becoming a business analyst requires a combination of education, work experience, technical skills, and networking. By following the steps outlined in this guide, aspiring business analysts can develop the skills and experience needed to succeed in this lucrative and rewarding profession



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