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What is a Business Intelligence Analyst and How to Become One

By Ibrahim Okunade


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available out there? Businesses do, too, and they need skilled professionals to turn this data into gold. That’s where a Business Intelligence Analyst steps in. They wield the power of analysis to guide companies toward smarter decisions. If you’re dreaming of becoming such a wizard of data, this is the guide to light your path.

Career Summary

Business Intelligence Analyst Salary

Business Intelligence Analyst Salary

Business Intelligence Analyst Salary

Anyone considering a career as a business intelligence analyst will want to know what a typical business intelligence analyst salary is.

Here is the salary breakdown according to Glassdoor:

  • Entry Salary: US$80K
  • Median Salary: US96$K
  • Senior Salary: US115$K

With this breakdown, it is safe to conclude that a typical business intelligence analyst salary is higher than the national average salary for workers in the United States, which was reported to be around $60K.

What is a Business Intelligence Analyst?

A Business Intelligence Analyst is a professional who uses data to help businesses make better decisions. They collect, analyze, and interpret large data sets, then present their findings to improve strategies. This role combines technical data skills with an understanding of business needs.

Business Intelligence Analyst Job Description

A Business Intelligence Analyst’s job includes gathering and processing data to identify trends and insights that aid business decisions. Usually, they use various tools and techniques to analyze data, creating reports, dashboards, and visualizations. A BI Analyst’s work supports strategic planning as it provides actionable intelligence on market trends, customer behavior, and operational efficiency.  These professionals work hand in hand with different departments to ensure data-driven decision-making across the organization.

Business Intelligence Analyst Career Progression

  • Junior Business Intelligence Analyst: Entry-level position focusing on data collection and elemental analysis.
  • Business Intelligence Analyst: Develops reports and dashboards, conducts in-depth data analysis, and presents insights to stakeholders.
  • Senior Business Intelligence Analyst: Takes on more complex projects, mentors junior analysts, and plays a key role in strategic decision-making processes.
  • Business Intelligence Developer/Engineer: Focuses on designing, building, and maintaining BI solutions, including databases, data warehouses, and visualization tools.
  • Director of Business Intelligence: Leads the BI strategy for the organization, manages large-scale projects, and collaborates with senior management to drive business growth.
Business Intelligence Analyst Career Progression

Best Aspects of Working as a Business Intelligence Analyst

  • High demand for data analytics skills across sectors ensures strong job security and competitive salaries.
  • Many roles offer remote work and flexible hours, improving work-life balance.
  • Direct influence on business strategies and outcomes by providing data-driven insights.
  • There is a clear progression path into senior analytical and management roles.
  • BI analysts can work in a wide range of industries.

Worst Aspects of Working as a Business Intelligence Analyst

  • Managing vast amounts of data can be challenging and sometimes tedious.
  • Pressure to deliver insights and reports can lead to stressful periods.
  • Constant focus on data and numbers makes the role restrictive.
  • They have to deal with data inconsistencies, integration problems, and software glitches. 

Essential Business Intelligence Analyst Skills

  • Data and Statistical Analysis
  • Data Visualization
  • Business Acumen
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Technical Proficiency

Popular Business Intelligence Analyst Specialties

  • Data Analytics and Visualization
  • Data Mining
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Market Intelligence
  • Operations Analysis
  • Supply Chain Analysis
  • Healthcare Analytics

How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

Business Intelligence Analyst 5 Steps to Career


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

Yes, in many cases, having a degree is a strict requirement to become a Business Intelligence Analyst. Employers often prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in fields such as Computer Science, Information Systems, Statistics, Mathematics, Business Administration, or related disciplines.

Why Is it Important to Get a Degree in Computer Science for a Business Intelligence Analyst Career?

The importance of a relevant degree in fields like Computer Science and Data Science for an up-and-coming business intelligence analyst cannot be underestimated.

The reasons include:

  • Foundational Knowledge: A degree in fields such as Computer Science, Information Systems, Business Administration, or Data Science provides foundational knowledge in areas critical to BI, including statistics, data analysis, programming, and business processes.
  • Structured Learning Path: Formal education offers a structured path to gaining the comprehensive skills needed in BI roles. It covers a broad range of topics that are essential for understanding and managing complex data environments.
  • Credential Recognition: Many employers view a degree as a baseline requirement for analytical roles. It serves as a validation of your dedication and ability to grasp complex concepts, which are crucial in BI.
  • Access to Advanced Roles: A degree can be a stepping stone to more advanced positions or further education, such as a master’s degree in Business Analytics, Data Science, or an MBA with a focus on analytics, which is often required for senior-level positions.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Computer Science?

The time it takes to get a degree in Computer Science largely depends on the type of degree you are pursuing and your educational path.

Here’s a breakdown of the common degree levels in Computer Science and the typical duration for each:

  • Associate Degree: For an associate degree in Computer Science, you can expect to spend two years to bag the degree. This degree is often pursued at community colleges or technical schools and can be a stepping stone to a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science generally takes about four years of full-time study to complete. However, this can vary based on factors such as the country, institution, and whether you take summer courses or have transfer credits. 
  • Master’s Degree: A Master’s degree in Computer Science can take 1 to 2 years of full-time study after the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. The exact duration can depend on the program’s structure (coursework-only, project-based, or thesis-based) and whether the student attends full-time or part-time.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Degree in Computer Science?

The cost of pursuing a Computer Science degree ranges between $9,934 and $32,635. The specific cost of bagging your Computer Science degree is dependent on the type of institution you choose (public vs. private), whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student, the duration of your program, and the level of the degree being pursued (undergraduate vs. graduate). 

Can I Become a Business Intelligence Analyst Through Online Education?

Yes, you can become a Business Intelligence Analyst through online education. Online education platforms offer a wide range of courses, certificates, and degree programs that cover topics relevant to business intelligence, data analysis, and related fields. Many reputable institutions and online learning platforms provide courses in areas such as data analysis, SQL, data visualization tools (e.g., Tableau, Power BI), statistical analysis, and more.

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

Becoming a Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst requires a blend of data analysis, technology, business acumen, and communication skills.

Here are some web resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Kaggle: Kaggle is a platform for data science and machine learning enthusiasts. It hosts datasets, competitions, and tutorials that can help you sharpen your data analysis and modeling skills. Participating in Kaggle competitions and exploring datasets can be a valuable learning experience.
  • DataCamp: DataCamp specializes in data science and analytics courses, including topics relevant to business intelligence, such as SQL, Python, and R, and data visualization libraries like ggplot2 and matplotlib.
  • Towards Data Science: The platform hosts numerous articles, tutorials, and case studies related to data science, business intelligence, and data analysis. You can find valuable insights, best practices, and real-world examples shared by professionals and experts in the field.
  • is a repository of publicly available datasets from the U.S. government. Exploring these datasets can provide valuable opportunities for practicing data analysis and visualization skills with real data.
  • Data Science Central: Data Science Central is a hub for data science and analytics professionals. It provides articles, webinars, tutorials, and resources on topics such as data visualization, data mining, predictive analytics, and big data.

Relevant Certifications for Business Intelligence Analysts

Apart from the conventional degree programs, you can also consider adding business intelligence certifications to your resume. These certifications demonstrate your specialized knowledge and skills in the field, commitment to professional development, and an understanding of current industry standards and practices.

Here are some of the ones you can consider:

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP): Offered by TDWI (Transforming Data With Intelligence), the CBIP certification is recognized across the industry for validating the skills and knowledge of BI professionals. It emphasizes a foundation in data warehousing and BI.
  • Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate: This certification focuses on individuals who leverage Power BI to perform data analysis. Candidates learn how to prepare data, model data, visualize data, analyze data, and deploy and maintain deliverables. It’s particularly useful for analysts who use Microsoft tools and services in their data analysis processes.
  • Databricks Certified Associate Developer for Apache Spark: For analysts working with big data, this certification validates skills in using Apache Spark for large-scale data processing and analysis. It’s suitable for those using Spark to perform complex data transformations and analyses.
  • SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4: For those using SAS in their data analysis, this certification demonstrates expertise in SAS programming skills, data manipulation techniques, and error handling. It’s suitable for analysts who need to process and analyze large data sets.

Practical Experience

Practical experience is a game-changer for business intelligence analysts. It’s where they get to dive into the nitty-gritty of data and essentially learn by doing. This hands-on approach sharpens their skills in using analytical tools and gives them a front-row seat to how businesses really work. Plus, it’s a fast track to becoming the go-to expert in their field, opening doors to bigger opportunities and making them a hot commodity in the job market.

What Are Internship Opportunities for a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Getting thrust into the intricate world of business intelligence without prior experience can be overwhelming and daunting. Internships serve as invaluable stepping stones for aspiring BI professionals, offering a hands-on opportunity to immerse oneself in the intricate world of data analysis, reporting, and decision-making processes within organizations.

Here are some of the top internship opportunities for business intelligence analysts:

  • Data Analysis and Reporting: Interns may assist in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data from various sources to identify trends, patterns, and insights relevant to the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Database Management and Data Cleansing: Interns may be responsible for maintaining and updating databases, ensuring data accuracy, and performing data cleansing activities to eliminate errors and inconsistencies. 
  • Business Intelligence Tool Support: Interns may provide support for business intelligence tools and platforms used within the organization. This may involve troubleshooting issues, assisting users with tool functionality, and providing training and documentation as needed.
  • Market Research and Competitive Analysis: Interns may conduct market research and competitive analysis to gather insights into industry trends, customer behavior, and competitor strategies. 
  • Project Support and Collaboration: In some organizations, interns collaborate with cross-functional teams to support business intelligence projects and initiatives. This may involve participating in meetings, documenting requirements, contributing to project plans, and assisting in the execution of project tasks.
  • Data Visualization and Storytelling: As an intern, you may work on creating compelling data visualizations and narratives to communicate insights effectively to stakeholders. Through this, you may experiment with different visualization techniques and storytelling approaches to convey complex information in a clear and engaging manner.
  • Process Improvement and Optimization: Interns may contribute to process improvement efforts within the business intelligence function by identifying inefficiencies, proposing solutions, and implementing best practices. 

Important Business Intelligence Analyst Skills You Will Learn

While learning the ropes as a budding business intelligence analyst, you will pick up some key skills.

Here are the top business intelligence analyst skills you’re expected to learn on the way:

  • Data Analysis: Business Intelligence Analysts excel in analyzing large datasets to extract meaningful insights and identify trends relevant to business objectives. They employ statistical methods, data mining techniques, and visualization tools to interpret data effectively.
  • SQL and Database Management: Proficiency in SQL (Structured Query Language) is essential for querying databases, retrieving relevant data, and performing data manipulation tasks. Business Intelligence Analysts often work with relational databases and data warehousing systems to access and organize data for analysis.
  • Data Visualization: Business Intelligence Analysts are skilled in translating complex data into visually appealing and easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and dashboards. They use visualization tools like Tableau, Power BI, and QlikView to create compelling visual representations of data insights.
  • Business Acumen: Business Intelligence Analysts possess a strong understanding of business processes, goals, and metrics. They collaborate closely with stakeholders to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and deliver actionable insights that drive informed decision-making and strategic planning.
  • Communication and Presentation: Effective communication is crucial for Business Intelligence Analysts to convey insights, findings, and recommendations to diverse audiences, including executives, managers, and technical teams. 
  • Technical Proficiency: Business Intelligence Analysts continuously enhance their technical skills and stay abreast of emerging technologies and tools in the field of data analytics. They may learn programming languages like Python or R, explore advanced statistical methods, and adapt to evolving data analytics platforms and frameworks.
  • Attention to Detail: Business Intelligence Analysts demonstrate meticulous attention to detail in data analysis and reporting processes. They ensure data accuracy, consistency, and reliability by validating and verifying data sources.
  • Team Collaboration: Business Intelligence Analysts collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, including data engineers, business stakeholders, and IT professionals.

What’s the Career Outlook for a Business Intelligence Analyst?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of operations research analysts, a category that includes roles similar to business Intelligence analysts, is projected to grow by 23% from 2022 to 2032. This growth rate is significantly faster than the average for all occupations. The upward trend means there is a high demand for analytical roles, including Business Intelligence Analysts, fostering positive prospects for those on the career path.

Business Intelligence Analyst Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities for a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Job opportunities for Business Intelligence Analysts are plentiful across various industries and sectors. These professionals are in demand due to the growing emphasis on data-driven decision-making and the increasing volume of data generated by organizations.

Some common job opportunities for Business Intelligence Analysts include:

  • Data Scientist: As a data scientist, you will use advanced analytics and machine learning techniques to extract insights from large datasets and develop predictive models to optimize business operations.
  • Data Engineer: Data Engineers design, build, and maintain data pipelines and infrastructure to ensure the availability and reliability of data for analysis and reporting.
  • Reporting Analyst: Reporting Analysts create and maintain reports and dashboards that visualize key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide actionable insights to stakeholders.
  • Market Research Analyst: Market Research Analysts collect and analyze data on market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive landscapes to inform marketing and product development strategies.
  • Financial Analyst: Financial Analysts analyze financial data, perform budgeting and forecasting, and provide insights to support investment decisions and financial planning processes.
  • Consultant: Consultants leverage their expertise in business intelligence and data analytics to advise clients on strategic initiatives, process optimization, and performance improvement.

What Type of Organizations Hire Business Intelligence Analysts?

Business Intelligence Analysts have a wide range of job opportunities across various industries, reflecting the growing importance of data-driven decision-making.

Key sectors include:

  • Technology and Software: Companies specializing in software development, IT services, and technology innovation often hire BI Analysts to optimize product development, customer satisfaction, and market strategy.
  • Finance and Banking: Financial institutions and banks employ BI Analysts to analyze market trends, assess financial risks, and improve operational efficiency.
  • Healthcare: In the healthcare sector, BI Analysts help in improving patient care operational efficiency, and managing healthcare costs by analyzing clinical data and healthcare processes.
  • Retail and E-commerce: Retailers and e-commerce platforms use BI Analysts to understand consumer behavior, optimize supply chains, and enhance customer experience.
  • Manufacturing: In manufacturing, BI Analysts can help streamline operations, improve production processes, and manage inventory through data analysis.
  • Consulting Firms: Many BI Analysts work in consulting roles, advising multiple clients across sectors on how to leverage data for strategic advantage.
  • Government and Public Sector: Government agencies and public sector organizations also employ BI Analysts to improve services, manage resources effectively, and inform policy decisions.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Business Intelligence Analyst?

The work-life balance of a Business Intelligence Analyst can vary depending on the organization and specific project deadlines. Typically, these professionals work a standard 40-hour week, but they may experience periods of overtime during critical project phases or when analyzing large datasets to meet tight deadlines. Many organizations are adopting flexible work policies, allowing for remote work and flexible hours, which can significantly improve work-life balance.

Should I Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Opting for a career in business intelligence analysis is a good fit if you like working with data and making sense of numbers to help businesses. This job is about finding trends and insights in data, which can help companies make smarter decisions. You need to be good at using tools for analyzing data and be ready to keep learning as technology changes.

Take a brief look at the business intelligence analyst job description provided above and consider whether it’s a role you see yourself thriving in. Surely, it is a job that can take you to many different industries, and there’s a lot of room to grow. But it’s important to think about if you’re ready for a career that mixes tech skills with business know-how. Make sure you’re okay with learning new things often and balancing your work with your personal life. If this is something you can do, get started today!

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Ibrahim Okunade

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