How to Become a Business Analyst
Business analysts are strong diplomats who use data to drive decision-making.
Running a successful business is a competitive endeavor. Business managers have the clout to lead and make strategic decisions, but it takes more than charisma and a head for business to solve key problems. Every business needs someone who analyzes data, communicates between departments, and explains to management the risks and rewards of their decisions. If you’re a strong diplomat who can use data to help businesses stay competitive, consider learning how to become a business analyst.
You’ll find the business analyst career path rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business analyst jobs will grow by 11% over the next 10 years—that’s much faster than most occupations. And the pay isn’t so bad either.
A career as a business analyst does come with its challenges: You must have the right education, skills, and qualities to be considered by top employers. Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to become a business analyst.
What Is a Business Analyst?
A business analyst (also called a management analyst) is a professional who bridges the gap between a business’s current position and its future goals. Business analysts work with stakeholders, team members, IT professionals, and company leaders to help solve problems and get a business from point A to point B.
Some business analysts specialize in specific departments. For example, an IT business analyst is an expert in both information technology and business who acts as a liaison between IT and a business’s executives. A business intelligence analyst works specifically with data, creates finance and market intelligence reports, and presents market patterns to business managers.
A data analyst, however, is not a type of business analyst. While there is some overlap between the two professions, there are also differences. While both types of analysts work with data and help companies make positive changes, data analysts have a more technical role. They strive to protect company data in databases as well as ensure that data is consistent and reusable.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Business analysts help businesses improve their overall efficiency, reduce costs, and boost revenues. Typical business analyst responsibilities include:
- Gathering information about issues that need to be solved, such as inefficient processes or budgeting.
- Determining which methods, resources, or personnel are needed to help a company reach its goals.
- Examining financial data and other records, such as revenue, expenses, and employment reports.
- Offering solutions, such as new systems and procedures.
- Conducting data presentations and writing reports to suggest solutions to management.
- Tracking the progress of changes and ensuring that they work.
- Meeting clients’ needs under tight deadlines
Most business analysts work for professional, scientific, or technical services. Others work for government agencies, finance and insurance firms, or directly for companies or enterprises. Some are even self-employed and work on a contractual basis.
Take a look at Monster’s business analyst job description for a better idea of the skills and qualifications sought by employers.
How to Become a Business Analyst
An entry-level business analyst job usually requires a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, finance, marketing, or psychology. However, having a master’s degree in business administration will boost your likelihood of getting hired. There are many colleges and universities where you can pursue a business analyst degree.
Your business analytics education should cover:
- Data mining and analysis.
- Business statistics.
- Accounting and bookkeeping.
- Business management and ethics.
- Communication and critical thinking.
- Legal challenges businesses face.
If you’re an undergrad, check with your college’s administrators to see if they offer a business analytics internship. As an intern, you can expect to write reports, analyze data, and help companies resolve financial and internal issues.
And when it comes to paying for your education, detailed spreadsheets and crunching numbers can help, but you can also check out this list of scholarships for business administration majors.
How to Obtain Business Analyst Certification
While a career in business analysis doesn’t require certification, being certified will give you a significant advantage when it comes time to get a new job, a raise, or a promotion.
One option is to pursue the Certified Management Consultation (CMC) designation from the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). To qualify for basic certification, you need a bachelor’s degree, three to nine years of consulting experience, and a passing score on a written and oral exam. Before taking the exams, you must:
- Submit an application.
- Answer 15 questions.
- Write three engagement summaries.
- Provide contact information for five or six clients who will complete online evaluations.
The first exam is on ethics and consulting competency, and the second is a peer-review oral exam with four parts:
- Presenting your engagements.
- Answering questions on engagement management.
- Answering questions on ethics.
- Answering questions on consulting core competencies.
How Much Does a Business Analyst Make?
According to the BLS, the median business analyst salary is $84,988 per year. If you’re just starting out, you may receive an entry-level business analyst salary of around $55,000 per year. In contrast, the top earners make more than $105,000 per year. Senior business analysts earn a median of $90,435, with the top earners making closer to $107,500.
You can look up the average salary for business analysts in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Business Analyst Jobs
We’ve covered the basics of how to become a business analyst. Now it’s time to put your career into focus. Put your analysis and problem-solving skills to work by determining what employers are looking for in a business analyst candidate and tailoring your application materials to fit their needs. Showcase your accomplishments in your business analyst resume, and demonstrate your communication skills in your business analyst cover letter.
Keep in mind that the key business analyst skills and qualities employers look for when hiring include:
- The ability to interpret data and use it to help managers make smart decisions.
- Strong written and oral communication skills and the ability to present information clearly.
- Good listening skills and the ability to understand the challenges a company faces.
- The ability to work with a team to help a company reach its goals.
- Problem-solving skills and the ability to approach each challenge uniquely.
- Good time-management skills and the ability to meet tight deadlines.
Once you’ve perfected your application materials, check out Monster’s list of business analyst jobs.
Or, try searching specifically in the top five states with the most business analyst jobs:
You could also check out the top five U.S. metro areas with the most business analyst jobs:
Upload Your Resume to Progress Your Career
You’ve learned how to become a business analyst. You’ve got the skills and aptitude to help companies progress. Now it’s time to progress your career. Make Monster part of your strategy. Sign up for free to upload your resume and receive free job alerts and career advice.