Looking for the perfect job?
Explore our Career Guides!

Read More

What is a Business Analyst and How to Become One

By Ajoke Aminu


Did you know business analysts are essential to achieving a 62% average rate of successful projects? This career path might be your golden ticket to the business world, but to become successful, there are several business analyst skills to be learned. In this article, we’ll walk you through the business analyst salary overview, and more importantly, the requirements for becoming one.

Career Summary

Business Analyst Salary 

Business Analyst Salary

The salary of a business analyst can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, level of experience, industry, and the specific company they work for.

However, here’s the business analyst salary breakdown, according to Glassdoor:

  • Entry: US$75K
  • Median: US$93K
  • Executive: US$116K

According to Forbes, while the median annual income across the country stands at US$59,428, business analysts often find themselves earning considerably more.

What is a Business Analyst?

A business analyst is a professional who identifies business needs, assesses processes, and recommends solutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness within an organization. Business analysts are detectives in business as they investigate why things aren’t working well in a business process and come up with plans to fix them. They also help make sure everyone in the company understands these plans and works together to make them happen. 

What does a Business Analyst do?

According to every business analyst job description, the role entails actively gathering and analyzing data to identify areas for improvement within a company’s processes, systems, and goals. They collaborate closely with teams to devise strategies and solutions, which could involve implementing new processes or technology. Ensuring smooth communication with stakeholders, a business analyst oversees the implementation process and may conduct testing to ensure alignment with company objectives. Ultimately, business analysts play a vital role in optimizing operations and driving businesses toward their goals.

Business Analyst Career Progression

  • Entry-Level Business Analyst: This role involves the gathering and analyzing of data. It also involves writing down requirements to help find solutions.
  • Business Analyst: Analyzes business processes, identifies needs, and recommends solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability of an organization. 
  • Senior Business Analyst: Leads analysis, guides junior analysts and talks with stakeholders to know what the business needs, and helps plan projects.
  • Lead Business Analyst: A lead business analyst guides other analysts, sets goals, and ensures alignment between stakeholder expectations and project outcomes.
  • Business Analysis Manager: Manages projects, develops strategies, and oversees analyst teams to deliver high-quality solutions.
  • Director of Business Analysis: Here, you collaborate with the CEO, align business goals, and supervise analyst teams. 
  • Chief Business Analyst: This role involves shaping overall vision, promoting data-driven decision-making and collaborating with executives to drive business growth.
Business Analyst Career Progression

Best Aspects of Working as a Business Analyst

  • Exposure to diverse industries.
  • Directly contributing to the organization’s success is rewarding.
  • Diverse responsibilities offer intellectual stimulation.
  • Continuous learning keeps skills relevant and up-to-date.
  • Collaborating with various departments enhances communication abilities.

Worst Aspects of Working as a Business Analyst

  • High-pressure environments can be stressful.
  • Dealing with ambiguity and conflicting priorities.
  • Managing stakeholders with differing agendas can be challenging.
  • Long hours may be required to meet project deadlines.
  • Limited control over project outcomes despite efforts.

Useful Skills to Have as a Business Analyst

  • Strong analytical skills for data interpretation.
  • Effective communication for conveying complex ideas.
  • Detail-oriented approach for thorough analysis.
  • Adaptability to navigate changing business environments.
  • Stakeholder management to foster productive relationships.

Popular Business Analyst Specialties

How to Become a Business Analyst

Business Analyst 5 Steps to Career

In this section, we’ll elaborately delve into the trajectory that needs to be followed on the path to becoming a business analyst. The role of a business analyst is an intellectual one, hence requires specific training and mental preparation before jumping on the field. 

What are the Business Analyst Educational Requirements?

Getting a proper education is an advantageous step to take in becoming a business analyst as it provides foundational knowledge and business analyst skills that are relevant to the field. 

Do I Need a University Degree to Become a Business Analyst?

No, a university degree is not always necessary to become a business analyst. While many organizations employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in fields such as business administration, finance, statistics, or computer science, practical experience, relevant skills, and certifications can also qualify individuals for business analyst roles. 

Getting a proper education is indeed an advantageous step to take in becoming a business analyst as it provides foundational knowledge and business analyst skills that are relevant to the field. A degree in these fields can enhance credibility, attract a higher business analyst salary and increase opportunities for career advancement within the business analysis field. 

However, candidates with strong analytical abilities, communication skills, and industry-specific knowledge may be considered for business analyst positions even without a formal degree. 

Typical Requirements to Become a Business Analyst

As said earlier, most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. So, if you want some edge in this career, you can start your journey by completing a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, a Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics, and other related degrees in the field. 

However, if you’re determined to continue on the path of a business analyst without a degree, then you’ll have to accomplish the following requirements:

  • Attain the basic educational requirements: To effectively build your business analysis skills, you must at least have a high school diploma.
  • Developing your skills: As a business analyst, you’ll need strong analytical skills as they are essential for interpreting data and making informed recommendations. 
  • Obtaining some experience: From entry-level positions to mid-level and senior positions, business analysts require substantial experience. Practical experience allows you to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios and develop expertise in the field.
  • Acquiring certifications: Certifications enhance credibility and demonstrate proficiency for a business analyst. Popular certifications include Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), and Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC).
  • Gaining industry insights: Understanding industry trends, regulations, and challenges enables business analysts to provide more informed insights and recommendations.
  • Networking: Build a professional network by attending industry events, joining online forums, and connecting with professionals in the field to gain insights, advice, and potential job opportunities.
  • Showcase Skills: Create a strong portfolio showcasing your analytical abilities, problem-solving skills, and successful projects or case studies to demonstrate your value to potential employers.
  • Continuously learning: A willingness to learn and adapt is essential for staying current and advancing in the field. Continued education, and professional development courses, can help business analysts expand their knowledge and skills over time.

Can I Become a Business Analyst through Online Education?

Yes, it’s possible to become a business analyst through online education. Many universities and online platforms offer courses, certificates, and even degree programs in business analysis, business administration, data analytics, and related fields. 

Online education provides flexibility for individuals to learn at their own pace and schedule, making it accessible to working professionals and those with other commitments. Additionally, online courses often cover practical skills and tools relevant to business analysis, such as data analysis techniques, business process modeling, and software applications like Microsoft Excel and SQL. 

However, gaining practical experience through internships, projects, or real-world applications of learned concepts is also crucial for becoming a successful business analyst, regardless of the educational pathway chosen.

What are Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a Business Analyst?

Here are some industry-specific authority websites where you can learn skills to become a business analyst:

  • International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA): The IIBA offers resources such as webinars, whitepapers, and articles on business analysis best practices, methodologies, and professional development. 
  • Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK): BABOK is a comprehensive guide to the practice of business analysis, developed by the IIBA. It covers various knowledge areas, techniques, and competencies required for business analysts. 
  • Modern Analyst: Modern Analyst is a community and resource portal for business analysts, offering articles, forums, webinars, and templates for business analysis professionals. 
  • Business Analysis Times: This website provides articles, case studies, and resources on business analysis trends, methodologies, and tools. 

Gaining Practical Experience as a Business Analyst

The path to becoming a business analyst is significantly enriched by practical experience, especially for those without a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Marketing, or Computer Science. This hands-on engagement offers a valuable opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge and essential skills pivotal for success in this role.

Being in a real-world scenario acts as a vital bridge between theoretical understanding and practical application. This hands-on experience facilitates the development of a well-rounded understanding of a business analyst job description, encompassing not only analytical techniques but also insights into industry trends, stakeholder needs, and effective communication strategies.

What are Internship Opportunities for a Business Analyst?

When it comes to getting practical experience, internships are one of your best bets.

Internship opportunities for business analysts can vary widely across industries and organizations, however here are a few to consider for practical experience:

  • Business Analysis Intern: Assisting in gathering and analyzing data, documenting requirements, and developing solutions to business problems.
  • Data Analysis Intern: Working with datasets, performing data cleaning and analysis, and creating visualizations or reports to support decision-making.
  • Consulting Intern: Contributing to various projects for clients, gaining exposure to different industries and business challenges.
  • Technology Intern: Participating in software development, system implementation, or process improvement projects to gain technical skills.
  • Project Management Intern: Assisting in planning and executing projects, tracking progress, and communicating with stakeholders to gain project management experience.
  • Financial Analysis Intern: Analyzing financial data, assisting in budgeting and forecasting, and conducting financial research.
  • Market Research Intern: Conducting market surveys, analyzing market trends, and assisting in market segmentation studies.
  • Operations Analysis Intern: Analyzing operational processes, identifying areas for improvement, and assisting in implementing efficiency measures.
  • Business Intelligence Intern: Working with business intelligence tools to analyze data, create dashboards, and generate insights for decision-making.
  • Process Improvement Intern: Identifying inefficiencies in processes, proposing and implementing improvements to streamline operations.
  • Product Management Intern: Assisting in product development, market research, and product lifecycle management activities.
  • Supply Chain Analysis Intern: Analyzing supply chain data, optimizing inventory levels, and identifying opportunities for cost reduction.
  • Risk Analysis Intern: Assessing potential risks to the business, developing risk mitigation strategies, and monitoring risk factors.
  • Customer Insights Intern: Analyzing customer data, conducting surveys and interviews, and generating insights to improve customer experience.
  • Strategic Planning Intern: Assisting in developing strategic plans, conducting market analysis, and evaluating business opportunities.

What Skills will I Learn as a Business Analyst?

As a business analyst, you’ll develop a diverse set of skills that are valuable across various industries.

Some key business analyst skills you’ll learn include:

  • Analytical Skills: You’ll learn how to gather, interpret, and analyze data to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can inform business decisions.
  • Problem-solving skills: Business analysts are adept at identifying issues within an organization and developing creative solutions to address them.
  • Communication Skills: You’ll learn how to effectively communicate complex ideas and technical information to diverse stakeholders, including both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Requirements Gathering: You’ll learn how to elicit and document requirements from stakeholders to ensure that business solutions meet their needs.
  • Stakeholder Management: Business analysts often work with various stakeholders, including clients, users, and technical teams. You’ll learn how to manage relationships and ensure alignment among different groups.
  • Process Mapping and Modeling: You’ll learn how to visually represent business processes using techniques such as process mapping and modeling to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Data Visualization: You’ll learn how to use tools and techniques to create visualizations that effectively communicate insights from data analysis.
  • Business Domain Knowledge: Depending on the industry you work in, you’ll develop knowledge of specific business domains, such as finance, healthcare, or retail.
  • Project Management: Business analysts often play a role in project management, so you’ll learn skills related to planning, organizing, and executing projects.
  • Technical Skills: Depending on the nature of your work, you may also learn technical skills such as proficiency in specific software tools, programming languages, or database management.
  • Networking Skills: You’ll learn how to build and maintain professional relationships within your industry, which can be valuable for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and career advancement.

What is the Work-life Balance of a Business Analyst? 

Being a business analyst can be quite dynamic, offering both challenges and rewards, but what about finding that sweet spot between work and personal life?

Interestingly, while a business analyst job description can sometimes demand long hours and intense focus, it also comes with its fair share of flexibility. According to a survey by Glassdoor, a whopping 68% of business analysts rate their work-life balance as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’, with a 3.8 star rating. That’s pretty reassuring, right?

One of the perks of being a business analyst is the flexibility it offers. Whether it’s the option to work remotely, choose flexible hours, or even juggle multiple projects, there’s often room to tailor your work schedule to fit your lifestyle. Plus, the variety inherent in the role means you’re constantly learning and adapting, keeping things fresh and engaging.

Sure, there might be moments where keeping up with the workplace culture gets daunting, but overall, business analysts tend to strike a healthy balance between work and play. And let’s not forget the sense of fulfillment that comes from solving complex problems and making meaningful contributions to your organization.

So, if you’re considering a career as a business analyst, rest assured that you can have a fulfilling professional life without sacrificing your personal happiness. With the right balance and mindset, you can thrive both in your career and in your personal pursuits.

What’s the Career Outlook for Business Analysts?

According to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for management analysts, including business analysts, are expected to increase by 10% from 2022 to 2032. Business analysts are in high demand because companies rely heavily on data nowadays. They need people who can understand and make sense of all the information available. This translates to an estimated 92,900 job openings annually throughout the decade. 

From small businesses to big corporations, everyone wants experts who can analyze data and turn it into useful insights for decision-making. These analysts not only work with data but also need to explain it in a way that’s easy for managers and executives to understand. So, if you’re considering a career as a business analyst, the future looks bright and a business analyst salary right now is one of the highest.

Business Analyst Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities of a Business Analyst? 

  • Business Analyst: Working directly within an organization, analyzing business processes, identifying needs, and proposing solutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Data Analyst: Focusing on collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to uncover insights and support decision-making processes within an organization.
  • Systems Analyst: Specializing in evaluating and improving the technology systems and software used within an organization to enhance productivity and meet business objectives.
  • Project Manager: Taking on leadership roles in managing projects, coordinating teams, and ensuring successful project delivery, often involving business analysis tasks.
  • Management Consultant: Providing strategic advice and recommendations to businesses to help them solve complex problems, improve performance, and achieve their goals.
  • Product Manager: Overseeing the development and management of products or services, conducting market research, and collaborating with cross-functional teams to meet customer needs.
  • Operations Analyst: Analyzing operational processes and procedures to identify areas for improvement, streamline workflows, and optimize resource allocation.
  • Financial Analyst: Analyzing financial data, preparing reports, and providing insights to support financial decision-making within an organization.
  • Market Research Analyst: Conducting research, analyzing market trends and consumer behavior, and providing insights to inform marketing strategies and business decisions.
  • Business Intelligence Analyst: Using data analysis tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and visualize data, providing actionable insights to support strategic decision-making.
  • Supply Chain Analyst: Analyzing supply chain processes, optimizing inventory management, and identifying opportunities for cost savings and efficiency improvements.
  • Quality Assurance Analyst: Ensuring products and services meet quality standards by developing and executing test plans, identifying defects, and implementing corrective actions.
  • Customer Experience Analyst: Analyzing customer feedback and behavior data to identify areas for improving the customer experience, increasing customer satisfaction, and driving customer retention.
  • Risk Analyst: Identifying and assessing potential risks to the organization, developing risk mitigation strategies, and monitoring risk factors to protect the organization’s interests.
  • Compliance Analyst: Ensuring organizational compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards by conducting audits, analyzing data, and implementing compliance processes and procedures.

What Type of Companies Hire a Business Analyst?

  • Technology Companies: Tech firms often need business analyst skills to analyze user requirements, improve software products, and enhance internal processes.
  • Financial Institutions: Banks, investment firms, and insurance companies employ business analysts to analyze financial data, identify trends, and optimize financial processes.
  • Healthcare Organizations: Hospitals, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical companies need business analysts to analyze patient data, improve healthcare delivery systems, and optimize operational efficiencies.
  • Consulting Firms: Management consulting firms and advisory firms often employ Business Analysts to work with clients across various industries, providing strategic advice and solutions.
  • Retail Companies: Retailers hire business analysts to analyze sales data, optimize inventory management, and improve the overall customer experience.
  • Manufacturing Companies: Manufacturing firms utilize business analysts to analyze production processes, optimize supply chain operations, and enhance overall efficiency.
  • Consumer Goods Companies: Companies in the consumer goods industry hire business analysts to analyze market trends, conduct consumer research, and develop marketing strategies.
  • Telecommunications Companies: Telecommunications firms hire business analyst to analyze customer data, optimize network performance, and develop new products and services.
  • Energy and Utilities Companies: Energy and utilities companies employ business analysts to analyze energy consumption data, optimize resource allocation, and improve operational efficiency.
  • Government Agencies: Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels need  business analysts to analyze data, improve government services, and enhance overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Should I Become a Business Analyst?

Starting with the first point we made in this guide, becoming a business analyst should be a thing of passion. Now that you’ve read what a business analyst job description is like, you should know that it is daunting enough to challenge your mental health. However, if you’re certain that you have the passion to go through the tides and waves of being a business analyst, then you can proceed to use this article as your guide. 

Becoming a business analyst offers a world of opportunities to those who have a passion for problem-solving, data analysis, and strategic thinking. It’s a role that requires a diverse skill set, including analytical prowess, communication skills, and a keen eye for detail.

Aside from passion, take some time to reflect on what truly excites you. Are you someone who loves digging into data to uncover insights? Do you thrive on finding innovative solutions to complex problems? If so, a career as a business analyst could be a perfect fit for you. Ultimately, the decision to become a business analyst should be based on what feels right for you. 

Careers Related to Business Analyst

Ajoke Aminu

About the Author

Read more articles by Ajoke Aminu