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How to Become a Business Analyst

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As seen in March 2022, pedestrians climb the stairs towards the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, California. (Photographer: David Paul Morris—Bloomberg? Getty Images)

Business analysis careers are becoming more popular. Business and data analysts help organizations make data-driven decisions by querying information sources, generating reports, and identifying patterns and trends. In the United States, the role of “data analyst and scientist” is in second highest demand. 2020 survey by the World Economic Forum.

With proper training, business analysts can inform decision making in all parts of the organization, from marketing and sales to human resources and finance. This role can also be adopted in all industries, including IT, finance and insurance, government and public sector, business and professional consulting, and according to the International Institute of Business Analysis, these top five are healthcare. And summarized by the social services industry. ..

Even within a single industry, there is room for a wide range of skill sets. “There is a place for hardcore technicians and coders,” says Brad Price, an assistant professor of business data analysis at West Virginia University. “But there are places for those who want business insights, and there are places for those who are really interested in how to communicate with and visualize data.”

If you are interested in this fast-growing career path, you are not alone. Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming a business analyst:

  1. Get an undergraduate degree
  2. Find entry-level employment in relevant areas
  3. Expand your skill set with a master’s degree
  4. Build abilities with professional qualifications

1. Get an undergraduate degree

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), about 45% of employed business analysts have a bachelor’s degree, while about 34% have a master’s degree. A four-year bachelor’s degree will take you on the path to gaining the knowledge you need to get a job in business analysis.

A particular business or technical degree is not a requirement to break into business analysis, but a solid understanding of mathematical analysis and computer science will help you in your future career. As a result, areas of undergraduate research that may be useful to those interested in becoming a business analyst include statistics, finance, information technology, management, and accounting.

2. Find entry-level employment in relevant areas

People who are trying to enter this field with limited experience are good companions. 64% of active business analysts have less than 10 years of experience. Junior employees working in business analytics may learn on the go by helping more senior analysts with data collection and reporting.

On-the-job learning requires an understanding of the basics of analysis and the technical skills that many analysts depend on, such as statistical software (SPSS, SAS, STATA, etc.), programming languages ​​(Python, R, etc.), and abilities. Perform data mining and data visualization.

3. Get a master’s degree and expand your skill set

You may also want to go back to school. “A master’s degree can serve as a pivot for those who didn’t realize they were interested in this area when they entered college,” says Price. “This is what many programs are doing right now. These programs help people update their skill sets or target them.”

Whether future business analysts have just graduated from undergraduate school or are considering a career shift, a master’s degree can be extended. Fortunately, there are different types of professional products to consider.

  1. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides much of the training needed to hire a business analyst, but generally spans a wider range of topics rather than specialized business analysis course work.
  2. A master’s degree in business analysis generally provides a more coordinated coursework on topics such as prescriptive analytics and the use of data science in business, preparing graduates to tackle real organizational issues.
  3. Even a Master’s Degree Program in Data Science or a Master’s Degree Program in Information Management offers additional options. Combined with business and management coursework, both fields of study may be suitable for those looking for a job as a business analyst.

With so many options, how can potential master’s candidates find the best program for their career? One of the differentiators is the breadth of course work offered.

“Organizations can create a competitive advantage by leveraging the power and insights often hidden in complex data,” said Ohio University’s Master of Business Analysis Online Master (MBAn) Director. William Young says. “Our program is successful because it focuses not only on the development of technical skills, but also on the strategic use of business analytics in the workplace.”

We agree on the price and support the learning-to-learning educational model. “We don’t just teach math, statistics, operations research and information systems,” he says. “What we are doing is helping students develop ways to think about problem solving around a set of tools that enhance data and technology. Get used to Powered by data and technology. “

4. Build abilities with professional qualifications

The field of business analysis also recognizes a variety of professional qualifications that help employers and clients demonstrate competence and subject matter expertise. These include:

  1. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA): Globally recognized IIBA certifications range from entry-level to advanced, ranging from general topics to specialized areas such as cybersecurity analysis, agile analysis, and business data analysis. Covers.
  2. BCS, Chartered IT Institute: The Chartered IT Institute offers business analysis certifications at all levels, from basic to professional. Topics include project management, agile business analysis, business finance, and data analysis.
  3. Project Management Institute (PMI): PMI offers Business Analysis Expert (PMI-PBA) ® certification. It highlights the owner’s ability to define requirements, shape project outcomes, and drive intended business outcomes.

WVU’s Price states that professional qualifications are “added value” and are necessary for a way to complement the master’s program while providing expertise.

“Certifications are usually associated with a particular skill set. I think these master’s degrees can generally actually scale as an individual, depending on which program they go to and how they are taught.” He says. “Certification allows you to actually target an area of ​​the field. [They’re] Learn more about where you want to grow and how you want to grow in the field. “

In business analysis, there are many opportunities

It takes a lot of preparation to move forward as a business analyst, but the median annual income is $ 98,230, which is 14% faster than the average growth rate expected by 2030, so for many people the rewards are striving. Worth it.

From entry-level roles to targeted accreditation and career advancement based on broader graduate research, anyone who wants to play a role in problem-solving and providing actionable solutions to organizations around the world. There is a place for.

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