How To Become a Business Analyst [2022 Career Guide]
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The role of a business analyst has come a long way since the late 1970s when a business analyst was responsible for converting analog, paper-based data into digital information. Today’s business analysts use cutting-edge tools to wrangle big data and generate meaningful insights. Business analysts need to understand how businesses function, and the ways in which data can improve them. For that reason, it’s an important role within most corporate structures, and those in this position often bridge the gap between a corporation’s business and software teams
In this post, we’re going to answer all of the questions you might have about a business analyst’s job. We’re also going to go over the business analyst career trajectory and how you can chart your own path through this industry.
What Is a Business Analyst?
Business analysts study the available data, generating insights that can help their organization. They analyze an organization’s documents and work processes to uncover patterns, weak points, and anomalies. Then, they apply both problem-solving and technical skills to generate insights that drive business decision-making. Business analysts are agents of change, and as it’s often said in business if you aren’t growing, you’re dying. Business analysts examine an organization’s processes and then use data to find ways to optimize them.
Business analysts can specialize in business development, business model analysis, process design, or system analysis. While all of these positions are critical to a business’s success, some industries demand specific expertise. For instance, a system analyst is responsible for bridging the gap between their business problems and the available solutions, making this role crucial in the tech industry.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Working in business analytics requires considerable experience in managing and forecasting your company’s financial situation.
Business analysts often start by studying their company’s industry. This helps them understand the standards in that industry, and gives them the ability to benchmark their own company’s performance against competitors.
Then, they start to analyze the systems and processes in place at their own organization. If these processes are analog in nature, then they identify KPIs and find ways to express their performance in terms of data, so that they can study these systems computationally and recommend enhancements.
Ultimately, the job of a business analyst is to recommend changes so that a company’s processes can be improved. These could be improvements to granular processes or interactions within the company. Or, these changes could be larger, structural shifts that overhaul how a company works in a definitive fashion.
If you’re looking to become a business analyst, you can expect to be doing some of the following on regular basis:
- Supervising the implementation of new technological systems
- Working with internal and external stakeholders to upgrade tech systems and work models
- Offering data-backed advice on how to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and revenue
- Analyzing historical data to understand a company’s current standing
- Holding and supervising workshops and training sessions to introduce new tech systems and workflow
How To Get Into Analytics
Now that we know what a business analyst does, let’s find out how to become one, and how to land a job in the industry.
Business Analyst Requirements
It is impossible to succeed as a business analyst if you understand the business fundamentals, such as finance, strategy, operations, and human resources.
If you’re looking to build your business acumen, start by reading the business news. You’ll soon learn about current events in different industries, and who calls the shots at various companies. To further your knowledge, you can read books about business analysts. The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge and Business Analysis Agility are good places to start.
You’ll also need to understand your own company’s functioning. You can ask colleagues from the finance department to walk you through financial statements, so you can learn how balance sheets and cash flows work. Attending quarterly earnings calls can provide important information on how your company is performing and what key metrics you should be tracking.
If you aren’t employed in an organization where this is possible, you can choose any large business and comb through their publicly available information.
What differentiates business analysts from business administrators is their ability to collect and process data. So if you want to be a business analyst, it’s important that you’re familiar with working with data and thinking about how it can contribute to the business.
There are plenty of resources to check out if you’re getting started with data analytics. This list recommends some of the best books for beginner data analysts. There are also online courses available for business analysts looking to build a foundation in data analysis. When choosing a course, make sure that you pick one that fits your mode of learning.
Business Analysis Methodologies
Once you have a grasp of business fundamentals and data analysis, you’ll already have the foundations of business analytics methodologies.
Analysts employ different frameworks and methodologies, depending on the task at hand. Let’s say you’re studying how customers move through the sales funnel. In that case, you would use the Customer Life Cycle approach, which looks at how different customer segments behave in different stages of the sales funnel.
As a business analyst, methodologies like correlation analysis, predictive analytics, and segmentation should all be part of your arsenal. The best way to learn is by taking real-world examples and seeing how you can apply a particular methodology to solve a problem.
Let’s say a company introduces a new product. You could task yourself with using predictive analytics to forecast the sales of that product. The goal is to practice using the right process to arrive at your conclusions.
Storytelling and Communication Skills
As noted earlier, business analysts are often the bridge between the software and business teams, which means that you have to possess soft skills to act as a liaison.
Two skills will come in handy here. The first is being able to give compelling presentations. You don’t need to focus too much on great design or aesthetics; the goal is effective communication. Working on your skills as a presenter can help you communicate with all of the involved stakeholders.
It’s also important to include compelling visualizations in your presentations. Without charts and graphs, people who don’t work with data might not glean insights from a certain set of numbers or tabular data means.
Landing Your First Job
Adjust Your Resume
If you’re looking for a job as a business analyst, your resume needs to reflect that you’ve got the desire and skills to work in the industry. Business analysts with an academic background in a business or software field should highlight that in their resume. Start with your education and list the classes that you’ve taken that are relevant to business analysis.
Self-taught business analysts should emphasize the projects that they’ve worked on, and include a portfolio. Talk about the goals of each project and how you solved the core problem.
Build Connections With Hiring Managers
Connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn and other professional social media sites when you’re looking for a job. If you don’t know any yet, you can start by identifying companies that are hiring business analysts. Then, connect with their hiring managers.
You should do this because it puts you on their radar. Some recruiters look for candidates on LinkedIn, and your chances of being spotted are higher if you’ve connected with them.
You can maximize your chances of landing a job this way by optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Make sure that you mention business analysis in your list of skills. You could also write your LinkedIn headline to convey that you’re looking for an entry-level position in business analysis.
Get To Know Other Data Analytics Students
Get Your Foot in the Door With a Related Job
If you aren’t able to land a job as a business analyst, you can start in other roles in the software industry, and then move into your preferred role when the opportunity comes.
Since business analysts have skills in both business and software, you can apply for jobs such as data analyst, business administration, and project manager. Gaining experience in these fields is good for your resume, and you can move into a business analyst role when the opportunity arises.
How Much Can You Make as a Business Analyst?
Entry-Level Business Analyst
According to Glassdoor, entry-level business analysts make an average annual base pay of $55,800.
Mid-Level Business Analyst
Mid-level business analysts make $87,695 per year on average, which comes out to $42 per hour. The 75th percentile of this group makes $100,000 a year on average.
Senior Business Analyst Salary
The average salary for senior business analysts in the USA is $114,548.
Become a Business Analyst in 7 Easy Steps
Build a Strong Foundation in Business Analysis Fundamentals
Business analysis requires both technical skills and business acumen, so take your time learning the ins and outs of those disciplines.
Take a Course or Get Certified
But if you don’t have four years to spend on a degree, then you can quickly gain credentials by completing a course or certification. Here’s a list of business analysis certifications that will look good on your resume.
Work on Projects
You don’t need to work under the auspices of a company to work on business analysis projects. There are plenty of beginner project ideas out there, which you can do yourself. Make sure that you document your process, and keep a record of your problem-solving approach, so that you can mention those in your portfolio. Speaking of a portfolio…
Create a Killer Business Analytics Portfolio
Your portfolio should show all of the projects you’ve worked on, and list the tools, skills, and programming languages you used to solve a particular problem. If you’re just beginning as a business analyst, then a good portfolio can set you apart from the competition.
Study Data Visualization
This is an oft-overlooked aspect of the business analyst role. You need to know how to visualize data effectively so that you can communicate your insights to your colleagues and interpret your findings yourself. Here’s a tutorial that shows you how to create data visualizations in Tableau. You can apply the same approach to a tool of your choosing.
Find a Mentor
If you’re a young business analyst, it helps to have a mentor. Mentors can advise you on your career path and provide more specific feedback on your portfolio.
You can find a mentor at your current place of work, or on a site like LinkedIn. Reach out to them with a specific ask about the kind of mentorship that you require. It will probably take a few conversations before you can find someone who has the time and matches your needs, so stay patient through the process.
Networking can keep you abreast of happenings in the industry, which will help you land a job. You can grow your network by connecting with business analysts and others in the ecosystem directly via email or on LinkedIn. There are also virtual groups on Facebook and other social networking sites where you can meet others in the industry.
Business Analytics FAQs
Can You Become a Business Analyst With No Experience?
Yes, it is possible to get a job as a business analyst if you don’t yet have experience. You can start with a course or certification. Follow that by building a portfolio of personal projects, which you can put on your resume when applying for jobs. Don’t forget to network in the industry and build relationships with recruiters.
Can You Become a Business Analyst Without a Degree?
While it helps to have a business or computer sciences degree, you can land a business analyst job without one. Recruiters place importance on things like online courses and personal projects, both of which can help you in your business analyst job hunt if you don’t have a degree.
Is Business Analytics a Good Career?
Working in business analytics can be both rewarding and lucrative. The job gives you the opportunity to learn how a business functions, and how to effect changes that can transform it. And, the job market for the field is expected to grow more than 14% between 2016 and 2026.
What Are the Career Opportunities in the Analytics Industry?
There are several different career opportunities for those who want to work in analytics. That includes data analytics, data science, machine learning engineering, database administration, and market analytics.
Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in data analytics? You will be after scanning this data analytics salary guide. When you’re serious about getting a job, look into our 40-hour Intro to Data Analytics Course for total beginners, or our mentor-led Data Analytics Bootcamp—there’s a job guarantee.