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What Skills Does a Business Analyst Have?

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If you’re interested in pursuing a career path in the business world, you have many different kinds of jobs to choose from. One of these jobs is that of business analyst. A lucrative and rewarding career, the job of a business analyst comes with many responsibilities. You must be qualified for the position, not simply by meeting the typical qualifications such as having the proper education and certifications, but by possessing certain hard skills and soft skills that are vital to the career.

What Is a Business Analyst?

Are you a high school senior ready to declare a major? Or, are you a young professional with several years of work experience under your belt, and you’re looking to switch careers? Perhaps you should consider becoming a business analyst. The role of a business analysis has changed a lot over the years, and today, this job holds an extremely important place in the workforce. With the growth of technology in business, companies must find ways to use and implement technology to expand their reach, earn more capital and make well-informed decisions for the future.

Today, a business analyst’s primary role is to bridge the gap between the business, IT and financial teams by using data to make scientifically backed recommendations and deliver reports to stakeholders and C-level executives. Business analysts present ideas based on data to help businesses optimize costs while improving overall efficiency.

Job Description and Salary of a Business Analyst

A business analyst’s job description varies based on the size and needs of a specific company or business. In general, though, a business analyst’s role involves collecting data, understanding that data, reporting it, making recommendations based on the data, and helping businesses apply those recommendations to make a company more financially sound. A business analyst is usually responsible for:

  • Analyzing data
  • Outlining problems, recognizing trends and using that information to provide solutions for a business
  • Making strong data-driven suggestions and decisions on behalf of the business
  • Developing technological solutions to improve products and services
  • Monitoring and planning
  • Reporting to stakeholders and C-level executives
  • Budgeting and forecasting

Because the role of a business analyst is critical to the needs of a business, they earn a pretty decent salary. On average, a business analyst makes around $74,000 a year. However, this number can be much higher depending on the company, or lower. Additionally, some business analysts may earn bonuses and/or commissions based on the performance of their analysis.

Business Analyst Basic Job Qualifications

To become a business analyst, you will need to possess the right skills and meet the basic job requirements. Again, these qualifications will differ depending on the size, net worth and goals of the business/company you’re applying to, but in general, candidates must have:

  • A two-year degree or a bachelor’s degree in a field such as technology or business
  • Master’s degree also preferred, but not necessarily required
  • CBAP certification usually required

What Is a Business Analyst Skills Test?

If you’re interested in becoming a business analyst, you typically need to get your CBAP certification via a business analyst skills test. This test, like the certification, is called the “CBAP,” which stands for “Certified Business Analyst Professional,” and it’s administered by the IIBA, the International Institute of Business Analysis. IIBA administers other exams for business analysis professionals as well.

The CBAP exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions, which much be completed in 3.5 hours. To qualify to take the test, you must have completed 7,500 hours of business analysis work in the last 10 years as well as 35 hours of professional development over the last four years.

Those who have their CBAP designation will fall into the prestigious category of “leading senior members of the BA community.” In addition to accessing a number of different benefits, such as demonstrated knowledge, marketability and employability, having this designation will help you land the job you want. Business analysts with CBAP certification earn an average salary that’s 13 percent higher than business analysts who don’t have their CBAP.

Business Analyst Skills

In addition to possessing the basic job qualifications, HR will be looking for candidates who have met various points on an analyst skills list. As most candidates will already have the necessary qualifications and the essential hard skills, sometimes it’s your soft skills that set you apart. But, first, which hard skills are the most important?

Hard Skills:

  • Typically, an IT background, as business analysts need to decide what changes to tools, processes, services, software and hardware can be made, as well as other technological systems
  • Data analysis
  • Proficiency with numbers
  • Data visualization
  • Facilitation
  • Public speaking and reporting
  • Ability to create conceptual prototypes
  • Knowledge of business structure
  • Ability to do stakeholder analysis
  • Detail-oriented with emphasis on accuracy
  • Ability to do costs benefits analysis
  • Processes modeling
  • Understanding of databases
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving

While businesses prioritize these skills, most companies prefer someone who is willing to learn quickly and work well with others versus someone who has years of experience but may be stuck in their way of doing things. These types of attributes, of course, come in the form of soft skills, and it’s important to make your soft skills just as desirable ‒ if not more ‒ than your hard skills.

Soft Skills:

  • The ability to formulate trusting relationships quickly, especially with stakeholders
  • Self-managing and self-starters, for example, being able to set your own deadlines on various projects
  • Be able to take feedback, even if it’s harsh, and implement that feedback into something constructive
  • The ability to work even when information is limited and goals aren’t yet determined or discussed
  • The ability to work with others
  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills, including presentation skills
  • Listening skills
  • The willingness to learn new systems quickly
  • Confident, but also humble
  • Creative

What to Put for Analyst Skills on a Resume?

As you can see, to be a successful business analyst, many different types of hard skills and soft skills are necessary. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to list all these on one resume. So, how can you possibly decide which ones are best for HR to see?

The first step in helping you decide which skills to put on your resume (or, to highlight in your cover letter) is to make sure that you mention skills that the company specifically asked for in the job profile. Before they look at your soft skills, they’ll first want to check if your hard skills meet their requirements.

To choose the appropriate soft skills for your business analyst resume, read up on the company’s culture and mission statement to get a sense of what type of employees they like. This can help you gauge the kind of person they’re looking for and which skills they value most.

While this type of career path is competitive, being able to emphasize your strengths will give you a leg up on the competition.