Analysts use various statistical, research, and database tools to help a business improve its processes, products, services, and software. They prepare reports on the company and its frameworks and evaluate its current and future action plans. They also compare and contrast the company’s plans with those of its competitors. Business analysts are also responsible for suggesting organizational changes, from financial investments to funding expectations to product focus. This includes conveying any possible suggestions in a public and private forum, such as preparing them for top management and partners to read or for external stakeholders, including venture capitalists, investors, or journalists. If you have an analytical mind, being a business analyst might be a great career for you.
Take a look at the three prime resume formats from which to choose when creating your business analyst resume.
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Job Duties of a Business Analyst
Businesses depend heavily on your expertise. Your quantitative techniques to analyze data are integral to making decisions as the business world gets smarter through AI and other fast-thinking computer programs.
The primary duties of a business analyst are:
Researching other companies or competitors to compare and measure performance guidelines, including preparing reports that provide a macro and micro overview. This enables the business to stay ahead or in stride with the competition.
Looking for ways to enhance business productivity.
Planning information gathering methods such as document analysis, focus groups, interviewing people, creating surveys, observing old practices, prototyping products including new software, and having onsite visits.
Keeping in touch with managers to ensure any recommended changes work.
Doing a detailed study of company problems like communication breakdown, inventory control, IT matters, and cost-benefit analysis.
Communicating with company personnel at all levels via email, telephone, in person, or writing.
Ensuring you maintain a digital and, if possible, a physical record of your work.
Up-skilling and upgrading your business knowledge to resonate with a dynamic business environment.
Ensuring you are legally compliant and adhere to mandatory standards.
Business Analyst Median Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a business analyst’s median annual salary was $85,260 in May 2019. Thus, there is a high scope in increasing employment for business analysts as companies seek new innovative ways to improve efficiency and control costs.
Top Skills for Business Analysts
As a business analyst, you must demonstrate interpersonal and leadership skills, problem-solving and decision-making skills, and mastery of business analysis best practices. These and more are necessary because you’ll be responsible for eliciting, analyzing, and documenting customer data to understand their needs and how they interact with your business. Then, you must use your findings to develop processes and workflows that address those needs in both easy-to-understand written and visual depictions and work with the team to implement those processes. Let’s take a deeper look at the skills you’ll need to perform these tasks successfully:
- Project management: A business analyst partners with project or product managers to lead and support business project initiatives. Working with cross-functional teams to understand the business requirements and create new workflows entails many steps to get them done. Having project management skills allows you to manage your multiple responsibilities while remaining organized, paying strict attention to detail, and meeting critical deadlines within a high volume, fast-paced environment. You’ll apply project management principles and strategies to manage different priorities simultaneously, optimizing processes to increase efficiency and automate operations.
- Interpersonal and communication skills: Teamwork, collaboration, and partnership are an integral part of a business analyst role, for which you’ll need strong interpersonal skills. That’s because you must partner with internal and external departments to improve business processes. To do this successfully, you must have the ability to build trusted partnerships with cross-functional stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Business analysts also must have high-level written and verbal communication skills, sometimes emphasizing technical writing. This skill is essential for leading sessions, presenting findings, and communicating system modifications to affected groups and leadership. Solid business acumen to understand business requirements from various stakeholders is also required.
- Analytical and research skills: To be a business analyst, you should be process-oriented and analytical but comfortable with ambiguity due to the ever-changing nature of the role. Part of your daily responsibilities will be to research and analyze all aspects of existing business practices and procedures to create detailed plans for executing and implementing new processes. You’ll need to study business partners’ business processes, operations, strengths, and weaknesses to determine opportunities to automate them. Since this role requires you to make data-driven decisions, create product roadmaps and plan business strategy, your research and analytical skills (including data analysis) should be well developed to be successful at it.
- Data analysis and reporting: Part of being a business analyst means you’ll be leveraging data to understand how users interact with a company’s product and how the company can achieve success. For this purpose, you won’t just need to know how to analyze data but know how to use it to implement improvements in the business that’ll address the concerns and needs of customers. This might mean being proactive in proposing analytical reports that will support the ongoing business needs. Also, some roles expect you to lead, create, own and deliver a monthly standard business reporting package to help sales and marketing teams. As a business analyst, you’ll be a strategic partner to management in creating reports, presentations, and relevant data analysis to support day-to-day business decisions. Sometimes, you can even be responsible for the design and development of automated systems to track, analyze, maintain and monitor complex business data, for which you’ll need tech skills.
- Subject-matter expertise: Businesses offer different products and services in various industries. A business analyst coming into a tech company, for instance, should have subject-matter expertise in networks, databases, and other technology-related areas like programming languages. At the very least, possessing expertise in the business units they support is expected. This is necessary because you’ll serve as a liaison between the business community and their customers or users. Using the tech company example, you’ll serve as a liaison between the business community and the IT organization to provide technical solutions to meet user needs and even assist in the business process redesign and documentation as needed for new technology. You’ll also be translating high-level business requirements into functional specifications for the IT organization and managing changes to such specifications.
- Leadership skills: Besides overseeing the life cycle of changes to business systems and processes and preparing detailed status reports for executive management, a business analyst must support large transformational projects through requirements workshops and training activities. Demonstrating team leadership, management, and project implementation are crucial skills to improve business processes. As part of your duties as a leader, you must create, maintain and obtain necessary training guides, documents, and user manuals for reference and use of employees. You’ll also be overseeing cross-functional teams to implement changes, for which you’ll need consultative solid and advisory skills.
Educational Requirements for Business Analysts
To become a business analyst, you need to consider a few considerations when choosing your educational path. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to get a job in this field:
DegreeA business analyst’s minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in a subject such as business or business analysis.
The University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Miami, University of Vermont and Auburn University are reputed universities that offer undergraduate business analyst concentrations.
Different fields of business analysts require different levels of computer proficiency and technical abilities. Business analysts are often a bridge between a company's main functions and its Information technology department.
so, the degree you get can be in a technology-related field such as computer science, information systems, computer engineering, systems engineering, or in a business-related field such as business administration.
For the technical fields, you can check out some of the offerings for a B. S. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, University of Michigan or New York University. Alternatively, a computer engineering degree from Purdue University and the University of Michigan, New York University, is great for working for tech companies. Other majors that you could consider in tech are:
Information Science from Cornell University, Computer Information Systems and Computer Systems Engineering from Arizona State University, or some of Purdue University’s degrees in Computer Engineering Technology, Integrated Business and Engineering, and Computer and Information Technology.
For more general business-related degrees, you can check out the major in Business Administration from Arizona State University and University of Michigan.
Depending on the type of business and the responsibilities of the role, you could also consider a finance-related field such as accounting or finance, but these are not as common. Some employers will consider equivalent work experience, about five to 10 years of professional experience in a similar role in implementing business systems.
Nonetheless, it’s essential to remember that this role usually asks for previous related work experience. The number of years you need to have varies depending on the company, but it can range from anywhere between one to seven years.
CertificationsThere are different types of business analysts, and therefore the educational options may differ depending on which one you choose. Some organizations offer certified business analytics skills courses.
- Universities and Colleges: Harvard Business School online provides a complete wide range of lessons, including online certificate courses in Describing and Summarizing Data, Hypothesis Testing, and Multiple Regression. You can also opt for a certificate program in business analytics from UC Berkeley Extension and the University of Washington.
- Online education companies: There are many companies like Udemy that offer courses for aspiring business analysts. You can learn various analytical techniques for business analysis, including the documentation and criteria for the role. Another company is Coursera, which offers a specialization where you can learn how to make data-driven business decisions and achieve fluency in business data strategies. Another helpful course, for example, is the Google Project Management Professional Certificate offered by Coursera to enhance your project management skills. You could also train in SQL since many tech and non-tech companies are looking for candidates who have anywhere between adequate to proficient skills using it. You could check out Udemy’s courses in SQL, such as their Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) Training.
- Non-profit associations: The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) is a nonprofit professional association for business analysts. The IIBA® certification helps business analysis professionals develop the role’s relevant skills and critical competencies. It offers multilevel certifications. These certifications enhance your market worth, chances of employment, and your earning capability at a global level.
- Software companies: Depending on which field of business analyst you choose, different online education specialties are available. For example, suppose you decide to be a business process analyst (BPA) or a business systems analyst (BSA). In that case, you can choose to take online certification programs for BPA and BSA, respectively.
As part of the role of a business analyst, you’ll master software that’s useful for data analysis. Some companies like Microsoft offer certifications in the software tools you’ll need. Employers are usually looking for proficient candidates in using Excel, Tableau, PowerBI, and Oracle software. A few options you can consider are:
- For Tableau software: Tableau Certification
- Microsoft software: Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate (Excel and Excel 2019), Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals, Exam DA-100: Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI, or learn to use Power BI in Microsoft Learn.
- For Oracle software: Oracle Business Intelligence Training and Certification
Business Analyst Resume-Writing Tips
There are many ways to present your credentials as a business analyst, depending on your relevant experience and skills. Consider the points below while building your resume:
- Include relevant historical business analyst experience: Include only your relevant experience. Do not write essays; use only bullet points for readability.
- Appropriate usage of language and grammar: Use specific but straightforward language. Use short sentences. Do not use generic language. For example, state that you worked in a garment manufacturing company for 18 months and interacted with the project and IT teams. Do not say that you worked in a manufacturing company for “about two years” and interacted with “various” staff.
- Specify achievements with results: Always use action verbs and support them with facts and figures. For example, don’t mention you prepared valuable reports. Instead, say you prepared “five detailed project reports and gave 10 recommendations which helped the business increase its sales by 25%.”
- Add certificates: Add any kind of related certification. Ensure that you provide a link to how that certificate helped your company grow, such as completing a short-term software development course.
Is there any scope of growth for a business analyst?
Yes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business analysts will grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for business analysts will increase as businesses pursue their search for approaches to improve cost-effectiveness.
How does one become a business analyst?
Those who aspire to become a business analyst may follow these four simple steps:
- Procure a degree in business analysis.
- Get the relevant work experience.
- Obtain a Business Analyst certification.
- Choose to work in a professional organization.
To be a successful business analyst, one needs to have relevant data mining and analytical problem-solving skills.
How do I know if I have an analytical mind?
If you understand patterns and trends and derive relevant conclusions, you could have an analytical mind. There are lots of quizzes and tests online which you can attempt to test your analytical skills.