Growth Trends for Related Jobs
The work of business analysts helps companies solve problems and expand into complex economic markets. Business analyst requirements often serve as road maps for implementing high-tech solutions that increase revenues or streamline production. To become a business analyst, you must get an education and gain experience within an industry. Once you earn your credentials, you could land a job with one of America’s top employers and earn a comfortable income.
Business Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
The role of a business analyst varies by industry and company. Most business analysts apply their skills to solving business problems or implementing changes that can help a business expand or capitalize on a market. Their jobs often involve carrying out large-scale information technology projects. But the nature of their work typically requires them to work with people in multiple departments.
The responsibilities of a business analyst often include:
- Budgeting projects and forecasting costs or revenues
- Planning projects and monitoring implementations
- Variance analysis to determine differences between planned costs and unplanned financial outcomes
- Marketing analysis to determine the profitability of a product line and overall company revenue
- Monitoring business data and metrics to track performance or productivity
- Financial modeling, operational modeling and product pricing
- Defining business requirements and issuing performance reports to executives
- Streamlining reporting processes across the organization
- Implementing reporting processes that ensure regulatory compliance
- Documenting IT requirements and creating project plans
- Defining strategies to resolve problems or make improvements within IT infrastructure or organizational structures
- Serving as a liaison between an IT department and other departments
- Business analyst requirements gathering over multiple departments
Business Analyst Requirements Examples
Business analysts often work across an entire organization to solve problems and implement programs that help businesses achieve market goals. Engineering plays a key role in many implementations, but business analysts also must work closely with marketing professionals, project managers and product managers.
For example, an online mortgage brokerage decides it wants to start charging an application fee when customers apply for a mortgage. The analyst must decide the requirements, budget and timeline of the project and then assemble a multi-departmental team to carry out tasks such as back-end system configuration, marketing requirements and salesforce training requirements. The analyst might gather information from mortgage product managers, customer service agents, compliance officers and sales representatives. They will work with project managers from various departments to carry out the intricate tasks of the project specifications.
A hospital tasks a business analyst with implementing a pilot program to test a new virus detection software. The business analyst might work with nursing management to determine their training requirements and how the implementation could impact staff and patients. The analyst might solicit the advice of the legal department to determine if the program’s virus reporting complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. After creating a business analyst requirements document, which would include budgeting, staffing needs and timeline requirements, the business analyst could move forward to work with IT staff to implement the software installation.
Business Analyst Essential Qualities
Education, experience and industry knowledge can help you land a job interview, but to succeed as a business analyst, you must:
- Be an analytical thinker and have the desire and ability to solve problems
- Have a keen interest in technology and the capability to apply tech solutions to resolve business issues
- Possess business skills and understand how your company can best compete in the economy
- Understand the complexities of cost-benefit analysis
- Have advanced technical writing skills
- Possess good communication skills to discuss highly technical concepts with engineers and executives
- Understand modeling methods and case development
- Have strong leadership skills to implement business plans
Business Analyst Education
To work as a business analyst, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most employers prefer business analysts with degrees in business, business administration, management or information technology. Some colleges and universities offer degree programs specifically designed for aspiring business analysts.
For example, Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska, offers the bachelor of science in Business Analysis and Management program. The coursework provides students with a firm foundation in management and analysis, along with the technical knowledge many employers need. The curriculum covers topics such as:
- Information systems analysis
- Assessing business cases
- Defining business strategies
- Developing IT solutions
- Business analyst requirements gathering
- Managing organizations
Bellevue offers the degree program on-site or online, and it’s designed to prepare students for certification after they graduate.
Business Analyst Career Path
Business analyst degree programs are relatively new. Some employers look for workers with a certain type of degree, but most want candidates who have a specific skill set, which usually includes:
- Advanced analytical skills
- Advanced skills in Microsoft Excel
- Experience working with executive-level decision-makers
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Business analysis requires expert knowledge of the industry in which an analyst works. They must have advanced knowledge in the managerial and technical aspects of their industries. For example, a business analyst in the telecommunication industry might have years of prior experience managing engineering teams. A seasoned human resources manager might seek a new career as a business analyst for an online employee recruiting company.
Some people choose business analyst careers as a new challenge or after they’ve reached the burn-out point in an otherwise successful career. For instance, experienced software developers can apply their vast knowledge of the development life cycle to business analysis within the same industry. Business analysis jobs can provide a path for experienced professionals to take their careers to the next level.
Some people begin their careers as business analysts, but typically in entry-level positions. It takes years of experience within an industry to gain the knowledge needed to meet business analyst requirements.
Business Analyst Certification
To advance your career in business analysis, you need certification. In fact, many employers only accept job applicants who have achieved business analyst certification. The International Institute of Business Analysis offers the most sought-after certifications, including Certified Business Analysis Professional and Certification of Competency in Business Analysis.
Some universities offer certification preparation programs that help business analysts prepare for the IIBA’s CBAP and CCBA examinations. For example, Villanova University’s Certification in Business Analysis program includes three courses:
- Essentials in Business analysis, an eight-week course
- Mastering Business Analysis, a 12-week course
- One eight-week elective course in Essentials of Business Intelligence, Essentials of Business Process Management or Lean Innovation and Management
Business Analyst Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer data on workers with a “business analyst” title but does track management analysts. According to a BLS study, management analysts earned a median salary of more than $83,600 in 2018. A median salary is the wage at the center of a profession’s pay scale. Top earners made nearly $154,000. Analysts working in the technology and science industries earned the best salaries.
According to data collected by the career website Glassdoor, business analysts earn an average base salary of more than $69,000, plus $1,500 to $15,000 in additional cash compensation.
Business Analyst Job Outlook
According to a BLS study, jobs for management analysts should increase by around 14 percent, through 2026. Government regulation, rising costs and a rapidly aging population will create significant demand for business analysts in the healthcare industry.
In a 2016 study, Jennifer Lenahan Cleary, director of Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Career Explorations Initiative, found job postings for more than 47,000 entry-level business analyst jobs over the course of a year. Most of the employers sought graduates with business administration and management degrees, and about 40 percent preferred applicants with computer science degrees.
Her research found that around one-third of employers needed business analysts who could handle a range of business issues, not just IT. Top business analyst employers include:
- Anthem Blue Cross
- Ford Motor Company
- General Electric Company
- J.P. Morgan Chase Company
- M&T Bank
- UnitedHealth Group
- Robert Half: Business Analyst Job Description Guide
- Villanova University: How to Become a Business Analyst
- Villanova University: Business Analysis Goals in Action
- Villanova University: Certificate in Business Analysis
- Bellevue University: Bachelor of Science in Business Analysis and Management
- Rutgers: Career Focus: What Employers Want from a Business Analyst
- Rutgers: Jennifer Lenahan Cleary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Management Analysts
- Glassdoor: Business Analyst Salaries
Michael Evans’ career path has taken many planned and unexpected twists and turns, from TV sports producer to internet project manager to cargo ship deckhand. He has worked in numerous industries, including higher education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, journalism and travel. Along the way, he has developed job descriptions, interviewed job applicants and gained insight into the types of education, work experience and personal characteristics employers seek in job candidates. Michael graduated from The University of Memphis, where he studied photography and film production. He began writing professionally while working for an online finance company in San Francisco, California. His writings have appeared in print and online publications, including Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool and Bankrate.