Do you love digging into data to find answers and insights? Are you constantly thinking of ways to improve or expand upon existing processes at your workplace?
If so, a career as a business analyst might be a great fit for you! Researchers predict that the value of the global business analytics market will reach $93.3 billion by 2025. This is a fast-paced and growing field, and there’s always room for someone with a fondness for numbers and an eye for system design.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the different types of business analyst jobs available, as well as the roles you’ll be expected to fill. We’ll also cover the academic and professional training required to begin your corporate journey. This way, you’ll know exactly which steps to take when you’re ready to land your dream position.
What is a Business Analyst?
In short, a business analyst envisions the steps and processes required to take a company from Point A to Point B. Executives often bring one into a project team to help analyze and assess what’s going on and what could be done differently to improve efficiencies.
As soon as they begin work on a project, a business analyst will learn as much as possible about the organization at hand. They obtain these insights by working one-on-one with various company stakeholders, including:
- Department leaders
- Subject matter experts
- C-suite executives
- Project team members
Through these conversations, a business analyst can more clearly understand the current pain points within a team. From there, they can work with existing resources to determine how to solve them and move forward. In many ways, they offer the new perspective and fresh set of eyes that a company needs to push past a roadblock and find long-term success.
What to Expect: Business Analyst Jobs and Duties
Are you wondering, “Should I become a business analyst?” If you enjoy solving complex intrapersonal issues and finding new ways to achieve organizational efficiencies, then the answer could be a resounding yes.
However, before you go down this path, it’s important to understand what a typical day in the office might look like for you. In many cases, business analysts work on dedicated project teams focused on one or more initiatives. For instance, a company might hire an analyst to help implement a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform across the enterprise.
Once you’re officially on board, a few of the main tasks that you can expect to perform include:
- Working one-on-one with project team members
- Balancing the priorities and deadlines of multiple projects
- Documenting business processes to define and solve problems
- Creating diagrams to model how work is done
- Analyzing actual processes against documented policies and regulations
- Brainstorm a solution, along with steps and requirements to get there
- Lead requirements gathering sessions and ensure organizational readiness
These are only some of the duties you’ll help oversee as a business analyst. Primarily, you’re the point of contact responsible for bridging the gap between the “technical” side of a change and the “people” side of it.
Business Analyst vs. Project Manager
If you read the business analyst job description above, you might wonder how this position differs from a traditional project manager. While many of the roles will overlap, project managers don’t typically act as intermediaries between the IT department and the rest of the organization.
You’ll be responsible for working with both sides in your role, making sure each one is up-to-date as the project progresses. Take technical jargon, for instance. You’ll be the person communicating technical updates with project team members, which will require translating complex terms and processes into verbiage that they can follow and understand.
At the same time, you’ll also work closely with IT members and computer programmers. You’ll help them understand department-specific lingo to ensure the new system meets the entire workforce’s needs. Again, this requires a level of flexibility, agility, and refined business sense that a project manager may not possess.
Academic and Professional Training
There is no strict educational standard required to become a business analyst. Likewise, employers don’t usually require a specific type of training or certification before allowing you to begin work. However, there are certain steps you can take now to lay the foundation for a healthy job outlook in the future.
Let’s take a look at what to study if you want to advance your career.
When hiring a business analyst, most companies will require at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. If you already know this is the career you want, it’s best to pursue your degree in a related field.
- Business management
- Business administration
- Finance and accounting
- Political science
- Information technology
Be sure to highlight any applicable college coursework on your resume. This includes any capstone or final-exam projects that required extensive research in an area.
It isn’t uncommon for a business analyst to get hired right out of college. As long as you’ve earned an applicable degree, most of your official training will be hands-on work that occurs through your job.
However, some large companies may require you to work your way up through the ranks. For instance, you might start as a junior business analyst first. Then, you’ll advance into more of a senior position with time and experience. Before and after you graduate, you can also seek an internship or externship to learn more about this position and make sure it’s the right fit for you.
Once you’re trained and working full-time, you can also look into continuing education to learn more about new developments in your field!
Again, industry certification isn’t always necessary to secure work as a business analyst. However, it can help you position yourself as a more attractive job candidate when you’re looking for new work.
In general, one entity awards these certifications: The International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA). The IIBA offers a few different certification programs, including:
- Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- Energy Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
- Certification in Cybersecurity (CCA)
- Agile Certified Professional (AAC)
Most business analysts focus on the first two IIBA certifications, as they are the most general. However, the ECBA, CCA, and AAC certifications are more specific and niche in nature, which could work in your favor if you want to specialize in a certain aspect of this field.
Skills and Competencies Required
What does it take to be a great business analyst? Is pursuing your degree, training, and certification enough?
While it’s important to meet the hard skill-sets required for this job, the soft skills are equally critical. To succeed in this space, you’ll need to possess the right characteristics and competencies. To successfully analyze what a business needs and how to get it there, you’ll be required to demonstrate:
- Technical proficiencies
- In-depth computer knowledge
- Problem-solving skills
- Attention to detail
- Strong communication skills
- Math and computation skills
- Writing skills
This is a job that will require you to use both sides of your brain every day. You should be just as comfortable punching numbers and solving complicated accounting issues as you are with resolving team member conflict and organizing project deadlines. If you love all aspects of business management and want to be heavily involved in every facet of a project, then this could be the ideal position for you.
Where Do Business Analysts Work?
Most business analysts work in a traditional, corporate office setting. They assist companies across every niche, industry, and sector. Usually, you shouldn’t need to travel on an extensive basis. However, keep in mind that some business analysts may travel to meet with executives face-to-face or facilitate widespread team meetings.
In this role, you can expect to work full-time, following normal business hours. While some stringent deadlines may require you to work the occasional overtime hours, this shouldn’t happen on a repeat basis.
Start the Path to Become a Business Analyst
Now that we’ve covered what this position entails and the different types of business analyst jobs on the market, are you ready to take the next step? If so, it’s never too early to begin putting a plan in place. Studying, training, and reviewing now can make all the difference when you’re ready to apply for your first job.
On our platform, we make it easy to access the career-related resources you need to succeed. In addition to our informative articles, we also provide in-depth reviews on online training courses and test prep programs, so you know how to invest wisely.