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What Does a Business Analyst Do? A Career Overview!

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: August 5, 2019

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: August 5, 2019

What Does a Business Analyst Do Your Complete Guide copy

It is in all businesses’ best interests to reduce costs and maximize efficiency. There are many people who play a pivotal role in transforming that goal into a reality. You may have heard of business analysts before and questioned, “What does a business analyst do?”

It’s a good and all too common question. So, we’re here to answer “What is a business analyst?” We will cover what a business analyst does and how to become a business analyst. We’ll also look at how certificate programs in the field can boost your resume, skill set, and knowledge base.

Let’s get to it!

Source: Unsplash  

What Do Business Analysts Do?

The main goal of a business analyst is to help the organization maximize its effectiveness and efficiency, which is achieved by making data-driven decisions.

Business analysts identify areas of opportunity for improvement and then advise on how to make them come to fruition. For example, the business could benefit from enhanced IT processes or better technology. Or, the business may require staff development and training programs. Through their work, business analysts understand the gaps in a business by leveraging data and insights. Then, they share how processes and operations can be adjusted to maximize productivity and reduce costs.

Through their analysis, they create plans to affect positive change. They accomplish this by fulfilling several duties and tasks, such as:

  • Identifying the organization’s technical needs
  • Creating charts and tables for data visualization
  • Communicating their findings and plans with stakeholders
  • Planning the structure of a business
  • Developing financial models that align with business decisions and goals
  • Providing forecasts and budgets
  • Conducting variance and financial analysis

If you’re reading this and thinking that this role sounds a lot like a data analyst, then you aren’t wrong. However, data analysts are more concerned with data and algorithms directly. On the other hand, business analysts use data and insights to make high-level decisions regarding the business and provide input on operations and processes. They often bridge the gap between IT and stakeholders or executives because they communicate the insights in layman’s terms and provide action plans.

How to Become a Business Analyst?

If you have a knack for problem-solving, critical thinking, and using data to achieve desired outcomes, then becoming a business analyst could be the perfect job for you.

This begs the question: how do you become a business analyst? There isn’t just one way to become a business analyst and there’s no right or wrong order of operations.

However, there are a few key steps to follow that will prepare you for the role. These include:

1. Earn a degree

Most employers will seek candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some employers might even prefer business analysts to have a master’s degree, which is especially true of senior-level positions. You can earn your degree in any field related to business or data analysis, such as computer science, business administration, finance, economics, marketing, or a related field.

2. Enhance your skills

Business analysts require a broad array of skills. Along your educational and professional journey, it will be beneficial to sharpen your toolbox of skills. Some skills to focus on for this role include:

  • Communication skills
  • Data analysis
  • Business knowledge
  • Industry experience

You can also enroll in certificate programs that will keep you current with the latest and greatest knowledge.  Students can enroll in the tuition-free programs available at the University of the People to keep their skills up-to-date and further develop themselves. Since business, data, and technology are constantly evolving, it’s beneficial to know the latest and greatest to remain competitive in the space.

3. Earn a certification

It’s also an option to earn professional certifications in this field. Some of these certifications include the IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), IIBA Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA), and the PMI Professional in Business Analytics (PMI-PBA), to name a few. The ECBA certification shows hiring managers that you possess the foundational knowledge of business analysis. The CCBA and PMI-PBA are indicators of experience and capability.

4. Get a job

If you’ve chosen to earn a bachelor’s degree, enroll in a certificate program, or gain professional certification, then you’re ready to apply for entry-level positions, at the very least. With a master’s degree in the field, you can contend for higher-level and more experienced roles. You can perform a job search using “business analyst” as your keyword and see what options are available. Then, it is time to submit your resume and prepare for the interview.  

Source: Pexels 

Job Outlook and Expected Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that management analysts (like business analysts) are currently in very high demand. Per the source, the field is expected to grow faster than average at 14% between 2020 and 2030. The job openings are expected to exist due to people changing careers or retiring.

According to the same source, the average salary in America for management analysts is $93,000 per year. 

Once in the role of a business analyst, you get to aid organizations in reaching their highest potential. With access to data-driven insights, you’ll be able to provide advice and plans to improve. The role is not without its challenges, but that is part of what makes it so rewarding. It will feel like each day is different. The position of a business analyst is great for anyone who enjoys helping others, communicating solutions, solving problems, and making a difference.

Closing Thoughts

So, now you know all there is to know if you’re asked, “What does a business analyst do?” If this type of career sounds like it’s a good fit, then it is best to start by gaining your education and honing your knowledge of the field. This could be by beginning with a bachelor’s degree or enrolling in a certificate program to learn more about the field.

Once you have the skills and knowledge, you can enter the industry in an entry-level role and gain even more experience on the job. You’ll have what it takes to positively impact businesses, so get ready to be the reason for change!

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.