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The ideal business analyst enjoys solving problems and learning about an organization’s processes from top to bottom. If that sounds like you, keep reading—the following guide outlines how to become a business analyst.
As a business analyst, you smooth out the kinks in an organization’s processes, improving business efficiency. These professionals make above-average wages and can expect faster-than-average employment growth over the next decade.
To become a business analyst, you can expect to follow a relatively straightforward path that includes a bachelor’s degree and a few years of professional experience. After that, you can decide whether a master’s degree or a business analyst certification is the appropriate next step for your career.
What Is a Business Analyst?
What does a business analyst do? Read on to learn about these professionals day-to-day tasks and typical work settings.
Role and Responsibilities
Business analysts identify the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in an organization’s processes and find technological solutions for removing them. Acting as liaisons between IT teams and management, business analysts translate the programmers’ and data specialists’ findings into practical remedies to reduce costs and increase competitiveness.
Business analysts work in professional office environments, usually as full-time staff members at corporations. Contract positions entailing hybrid or fully remote work are also common. The latter may still require some face-to-face communication, however, since business analysts work directly with business owners, chief stakeholders and IT personnel.
How to Become a Business Analyst
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The minimum education requirement for becoming a business analyst is a bachelor’s in business administration or a similar field. This undergraduate degree will teach you core competencies like accounting, analytics, finance and marketing. In addition to a business-related major, aspiring business analysts might consider a minor in communications or information technology.
The International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) reports that 48% of business analysts hold a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education. That said, some employers prefer applicants with MBA degrees or similar credentials under their belt. We’ll explore these graduate degrees in a later section.
Gain Experience in the Field
Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, plan to complete a few years of hands-on experience to develop the skills needed to succeed as a business analyst.
Two jobs that can effectively prepare you for a business analyst career include software developer and quality assurance engineer. Software developers analyze clients’ needs and use that information to create prototypes of new products. Quality assurance engineers test and refine new products, fixing any bugs found during testing.
Payscale reports that entry-level software developers make an average annual salary of around $67,000. Entry-level quality assurance engineers make around $64,000, according to Payscale.
Consider a Master’s Degree
A graduate degree bolsters your credentials and can lead to better career opportunities, including more advanced roles and higher salaries. Two of the most popular options for business analyst master’s degrees include a master’s in business analytics and an MBA. Both degrees usually take one to two years to finish and can help you stand out.
Among business analysis professionals surveyed by IIBA, 36% hold a master’s degree as their highest level of education.
Consider Professional Certification
IIBA offers three core certifications, recognized across the industry, that can demonstrate your qualifications to potential employers:
- The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)™, for beginning and junior analysts
- The Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®), the standard choice for mid-level professional analysts
- The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®), IIBA’s highest-level certification, open to seasoned professionals
IIBA reports that CBAPs earn 25% more than non-certified business analysts.
Salary and Job Outlook for Business Analysts
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for management analysts—including business analysts—is $93,000. The BLS projects the field to grow by 11% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Business Analyst
Is a business analyst an IT job?
Not quite, though many business analysts specialize in information technology. Business analysts work closely with IT professionals and should be well-versed in certain aspects of IT, such as data analysis.
Is business analyst a high-paying job?
Yes. As noted above, the BLS reports a median annual wage of $93,000 for business analysts. This is significantly higher than the median of $45,760 for all jobs nationwide.
Does business analyst require coding?
Business analysts tend to take a more wide-angle view of business processes, so the position usually doesn’t require coding. If you work extensively with raw data, however, knowing programming languages like R or Python would be necessary.