How to Become a Business Analyst

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Business Analyst? What Business Analyst do? Degrees for Business Analyst, Steps to become Business Analyst and much more.

What does a Business Analyst do?

According to Forbes, Business Analyst is one of the most searched job roles in America right now. Business analysts are the fix-it people of the corporate world. They are the bridging gap between the business and IT departments. As such they are required to work with managers, IT teams and relevant stakeholders to develop systems, improve business processes like productivity, output, distribution, etc. and provide technological solutions that drive the company forward.

Technical team members rely heavily on business analysts to interpret their tasks in terms and can quickly act upon. Analysts convert technical jargon into more user-friendly terms for management and non-technical stakeholders.

A Business analyst focuses on four main types of analysis:

  • Strategic planning: they identify the changing needs of the company
  • Business Model Analysis: they define policies and market approaches for the company
  • Process Design: they standardize the workflow of the company
  • Systems Analysis: they interpret requirements for the IT department

Steps to Become a Business Analyst

Following are the steps that will help you establish your goal of becoming a business analyst:

Step1 - Earn an undergraduate degree in the relevant field:

One of the prerequisites to becoming a business analyst is a bachelor’s degree mainly in accounting, finance or business administration. This is the first step towards your goal

Step2 - Equip yourself with computer courses

One of the essentials of becoming a Business analyst is to know some computer programming. Different BA roles require different technical proficiency levels. The more computer skills you have the better chances you have over other candidates.

Step3 - Get an internship or a job

You can gain hands-on experience with summer internships and strengthen your network and contacts so that when you apply for jobs after completion of your studies, it doesn’t become an uphill task to get a job as a business analyst.

Step4 - Get Certified

Business analysts can gain critical supplementary knowledge by achieving a respected certification. You can enroll in the prestigious International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) certification. IIBA is the globally recognized trade association and governing body for the business analyst industry. A credible certification will help you climb the career ladders at a quicker rate. 

Step5 - Enroll in a Master’s Degree

After a few years when you have a much better grasp of the niche, field, and industry you want to continue working for, it would be the right time to pursue a master’s degree focusing specifically on the exact career path. Once you complete your master’s degree program, you will emerge as a highly qualified and sought after candidate who has both advanced level education and real-time work experience. 

Types of degrees for a Business Analyst

Bachelor’s Degree:  For entry level jobs as a business analyst, a bachelor’s degree in business administration or other related degree is a must. Bachelor’s degree program will include classes like accounting, business law, business communication and other specialized classes like accounting management and marketing. A bachelor’s degree program in business administration typically takes 4 years to complete. 

Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in analytics typically takes 2 years to complete. A master’s degree will offer further specialization and help you bag jobs in higher positions like that of  management analyst, operations research analyst, marketing analyst, data scientists and other big data jobs

Certifications: While the prerequisite for a business analyst remains to be a bachelor’s degree, anybody can pursue a career in business analysis with a certification. For fresh graduates with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, an entry level certification will help them bag a job in the industry. Software professionals looking for new career paths can move from their current jobs to become a business analyst and can get enrolled in certification courses. Software professionals already possess some of the skills like analysis and data mining skills. A certification will help them advance their careers. A certification can take anywhere between six months to one year to be completed depending on the course and the concentrations. 

Concentrations to consider to become a Business Analyst 

A business analyst student shares a lot of common core subjects with that of business administration like Principle of Finance, Managerial Accounting, Principles of Management among others. 

The other specialized concentrations include Business Analytics, Advanced Excel and Statistics II.

  • Business Analytics: This is the main concentration. Students will be taught the techniques that drive practical, data-driven changes in a business. Students will learn the practical application of statistical analysis that focuses on providing actionable recommendations.

  • Statistics II: Statistics II elaborates on the basics of statistics and moves into new topics like ANOVA, Chi-Square tests, multiple regression analysis, non-parametric procedures, etc. 

  • Advanced Excel: Advanced excel helps perform complex and large calculations, data analysis, better representation of data and data processing of huge data. It is a Microsoft data calculation and analysis tool which is used by analysts on a regular basis.

Following are the job concentrations for Business Analyst 

  • Business Analyst: Well, the most common and the most expected role is that of a business analyst. It is an entry-level job. As a business analyst, you will act as the link between the management and the tech team, you will analyze the underlying problems and provide technical solutions for the same.

  • Project Manager: The role of a project manager and a business analyst is closely linked. In some companies, the positions are handled by one person while in other companies these are two different roles. While business analysts are responsible for identifying and analyzing business problems, project managers develop detailed plans and coordinate resources to deliver identified problems.

  • Business Process Analyst: The role of a Business Process Analyst was once nearly identical with that of a business analyst. It has however evolved in recent years. The primary focus is on business processes- their identification, categorization and how they can be improved. As a process analyst, they optimize inefficient and outdated approaches often through automation. Most process analysts begin their careers as business analysts before moving onto process analysis.

Stand out skills for a Business Analyst

Having the following skills can help you stand out as a business analyst:

  • Technical Skills: One of the main responsibilities of a BA is to provide technical solutions. Hence, having technical knowledge is a must. More and more business analysts are increasing their technical proficiency with the knowledge of computer programming, big data mining, database management, and systems engineering.

  • Critical thinking and Business Knowledge: Business Analysts must be able to understand the roles of different individuals and departments and how these departments interact and depend on each other. This business knowledge will help them to successfully analyze data points and build strategic plans for the future. Critical thinking is another very important skill for a business analyst. Listening to stakeholders and asking the right questions to determine needs will help them evaluate those needs to ensure they address the underlying problems.

  • Good Communication Skills: Business analyst works as the link between the management and the tech team. They collect information, present to wide-ranging stakeholders, translate and negotiate between parties. Hence, it is imperative for a BA to have an excellent hold over their verbal and written communication skills.

  • Organizational Skills: A business analyst has a lot on their table at any given point in time. They pour over volumes of data on a daily basis. Hence it is important that they know to prioritize their task and be efficient with time and resource allocation. Having good organizational skills will help them complete their jobs on or before time. 

  • Interpersonal Skills: It is a known fact that the management and the tech team are always at loggerheads. Disagreements always occur over prioritizing steps forward. Changes cannot be made without the teams coming to a mutual conclusion. As a link between the management and the tech team, it is the responsibility of the BA to keep them on the same page and get the job done. Without excellent interpersonal skills, it wouldn’t be possible. Hence, interpersonal skills are of utmost importance if you are considering to pursue a business analyst role. 

Business Analyst Salaries

Business Analyst