By bringing business needs together with IT resources, business analysts come up with ways to improve organizations. They listen to leaders, stakeholders, and others at a company to understand a current situation or problem. Then, they work on improving it through data analysis.
If you think you’d be good at helping organizations make important changes to their processes, products, and services, here’s a look at what’s involved in a career as a business analyst.
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Business Analyst Job Description
Companies employ business analysts to help them get from where they are to where they want to be. Specifically, business analysts use data to evaluate processes and procedures, determine what needs to change and how to change it, and present their findings to the company.
Business analysts realize, however, that parameters such as cost constraints and technical feasibility affect what actions an organization can take.
In determining their recommendations, business analysts often perform duties such as:
- Talking to people to understand goals and gain information on current operations
- Questioning assumptions about why problems exist and why things are done in certain ways
- Outlining findings and possible solutions
- Making data-driven recommendations
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Monitoring progress and presenting reports
Types of Business Analysts
Though many job titles say “business analyst,” in some respects, this title is a catchall phrase. And while many business analysts conduct their studies across entire businesses, there are those who focus on specific areas of analysis.
For example, management analysts analyze an organization’s processes and procedures, then recommend ways the company can improve their efficiency. But a compensation, benefit, and job analyst compares compensation and benefit plans, then recommends the best choices for the company.
Other job titles include:
- IT Business analyst
- Systems Business Analyst
- Business Performance Analyst
Relation to Team
A one-size-fits-all description of where a business analyst fits into company structure does not exist. Organizations may employ several business analysts or just one or two, and some places assign them to specific departments, while others put them on projects based on most pressing needs. Leaders often prefer when business analysts do not have an affiliation with a certain team because it allows them to approach a problem from a fresh perspective.
Typically, business analysts work in close association with project managers. They also frequently interact with IT staff and financial reporting teams.
Desirable Skills for Business Analysts
Inquisitive problem-solvers who ask both the “dumb” and the hard questions make good business analysts. Gathering information, however, is only part of the job. These professionals need strong analytic skills to process the data and come up with achievable action plans based on technical feasibility and company resources. Mastery of Excel, PowerPoint, performance analytics software, CRMs, and other tools enables business analysts to sort data and present findings.
The ability to communicate clearly contributes to success in this role. Business analysts regularly interact with others at various levels, so they need to eliminate jargon to present information and instructions in ways that make sense to their audience.
Business Analyst Qualifications
Business analysts commonly hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in business administration, finance, economics, statistics, or another similar discipline. Many business analysts also have a background in IT or development jobs.
Industry-recognized certification can enhance career opportunities. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) awards several certifications to candidates who pass an exam and demonstrate a work history that meets criteria.
- Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
- Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis (IIBA-CCA)
- Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC)
- Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA-CBDA)
Business Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
Glassdoor reports the national average salary for a business analyst as $68,346. Note, though, that this figure can differ substantially based on specific duties and experience. A senior IT business analyst, for instance, makes an average salary of over $90,000.
Similarly, employment projections vary by role, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing growth of 7% to 27% between 2016 and 2026. As an example, demand for management analysts—one of the most common titles within the general field of business analysis—is expected to increase 14% as companies put a greater emphasis on cost-cutting and efficiency.
Your Career as a Business Analyst
Since so many organizations can benefit from the services of a business analyst, job opportunities exist at both for-profit and nonprofit companies as well as with the government. Newcomers often begin as junior analysts and progress into specialized roles or take on larger, more complex projects.
And, if you’re looking for business analyst jobs, we can help! FlexJobs offers flexible jobs in more than 50 different career fields!
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