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What is a Business Intelligence Developer and How to Become One

By Lace Brunsden


Business Intelligence Developers play a critical role in analyzing data to inform strategic business decisions. If you’re interested in leveraging data to drive business success, this article will outline the path to becoming a Business Intelligence Developer, including the necessary skills and educational background required for this dynamic and impactful career.

Business Intelligence Developer Career Summary

Business Intelligence Developer Salary

Business Intelligence Developer Salary

The average BI Developer salary differs depending on where you find your information.

According to Glassdoor, the average BI developer salary can be summarized as follows:

  • Entry-Level: USD 97,000
  • Median: USD 114,000
  • Senior: USD 134,000

What is a Business Intelligence Developer?

A Business Intelligence (BI) Developer is a specialized software engineer who focuses on designing, developing, and maintaining BI solutions within an organization. Their primary role involves converting raw data into meaningful and actionable insights that can help in strategic decision-making. They work closely with stakeholders across the organization to understand their data needs and deliver reports and visualizations that guide business operations, improve efficiency, and drive growth.

Business Intelligence Developer Job Description

The BI Developer job description encompasses data modeling and warehousing to structure diverse data sources for analysis, conducting data analysis to uncover trends and insights, developing tailored BI solutions, and collaborating with stakeholders to meet their data reporting needs. Additionally, the BI Developer job description involves ensuring the ongoing maintenance and accuracy of BI tools while staying updated with the latest trends in the field. Essentially, BI Developers are key to transforming complex data into actionable intelligence, facilitating informed decision-making across organizations.

Business Intelligence Developer Career Progression

  • BI Analyst: You’ll focus on data analysis and reporting, helping in the collection and interpretation of data to support business decisions.
  • BI Developer: Responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining BI solutions, including data warehousing, reporting, and analytics.
  • Senior BI Developer: Takes on more complex projects, often leading BI initiatives, mentoring junior developers, and contributing to strategic planning.
  • BI Manager: Oversees the BI team, managing projects from inception to completion, setting objectives, and aligning BI strategies with business goals.
  • BI Architect: Focuses on designing and implementing comprehensive BI systems and strategies, ensuring scalability and alignment with business needs.
  • Director of BI: Responsible for leading the organization’s BI function, setting vision and direction, and ensuring that BI initiatives support business objectives.
  • Chief Data Officer (CDO): Responsible for overseeing all data management practices, data technologies, and data governance across the organization, ensuring data is leveraged as a valuable asset.
Business Intelligence Developer Career Progression

Best Aspects of Working as a BI Developer

  • Impact on Decision-Making
  • High Demand Across Industries
  • Continuous Learning and Skill Development
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Competitive Salary and Career Growth Opportunities

Worst Aspects of Working as a BI Developer

  • Tight Deadlines and High Pressure
  • Constant Need for Up-to-Date Technical Skills
  • Data Quality and Integration Challenges
  • High Expectations from Non-Technical Stakeholders
  • Balancing Between Rapid Technology Changes and Business Needs

Useful Skills to Have as a BI Developer

  • Proficiency in SQL and Database Management
  • Expertise in BI Tools (e.g., Tableau, Power BI)
  • Data Modeling and Warehousing Techniques
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking
  • Communication and Collaboration Skills

Popular BI Developer Specialties

  • Data Warehousing
  • Data Visualization
  • ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Development
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Dashboard Development

How to Become a Business Intelligence Developer

Business Intelligence Developer 6 Steps to Career


Do I Need a Degree to Become a BI Developer?

While having a degree, particularly in fields such as computer science, information technology, or data science, is commonly considered a traditional pathway to becoming a Business Intelligence Developer, it is not strictly necessary for everyone. The key to success in this field is the ability to demonstrate proficiency in relevant skills such as SQL, data analysis, BI tools (like Tableau and Power BI), data modeling, and understanding of business processes.

Can I Become a BI Developer Through Online Education?

Yes, you can become a Business Intelligence Developer through online education. The rise of online learning platforms has made it increasingly feasible to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for a career in Business Intelligence (BI) without traditional degree programs.

Here’s how you can leverage online education to pursue a career as a BI Developer:

  • Bootcamps: BI and data analytics bootcamps are intensive training programs that focus on practical, hands-on skills needed in the industry. These boot camps can range from a few weeks to several months and are designed to equip you with job-ready skills.
  • Certifications: Earning certifications from recognized organizations or software vendors can validate your skills to employers. Certifications in specific BI tools, data analysis, or data management can significantly boost your credibility. 
  • Build a Portfolio: As you learn, apply your skills to real-world datasets and projects. Create a portfolio showcasing your ability to extract insights from data, build reports, and develop dashboards. This portfolio can be critical in demonstrating your capabilities to potential employers.

What Are Some Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a BI Developer?

To become a Business Intelligence Developer, numerous authoritative and industry-respected web resources offer courses, tutorials, and certifications.

Here are some highly recommended websites:

  • Microsoft Learn: Offers free learning paths and modules specifically designed for learning Microsoft technologies, including Power BI and Azure, which are crucial for BI developers focusing on Microsoft’s ecosystem.
  • Tableau Training and Tutorials: Tableau’s official website provides training videos and tutorials for all skill levels to master Tableau, from beginner to advanced users.
  • DataCamp: Specializes in data science and analytics education, offering interactive courses on R, Python, SQL, and BI tools like Power BI and Tableau, focused on hands-on learning.
  • Pluralsight: Offers a wide range of courses and learning paths focused on BI, data analysis, and various BI tools, catering to beginners and advanced users alike.

Practical Experience

What are Internship Opportunities for a BI Developer?

Internship opportunities for aspiring Business Intelligence Developers are available across a wide range of industries, including technology, finance, healthcare, retail, and more. These internships can provide hands-on experience with data analysis, reporting, dashboard creation, and use of BI tools.

Here are some types of internships you might find:

  • BI Developer Internships: Directly focused on developing and implementing BI solutions, including data warehousing, data modeling, and report generation using tools like SQL, Tableau, and Power BI.
  • Data Analysis Internships: Focus on analyzing data to extract insights, often using statistical software, SQL, and visualization tools. This role can serve as a stepping stone to a more specialized BI Developer position.
  • Data Engineering Internships: Concentrate on the design, construction, and maintenance of the data architecture that BI solutions depend on, including databases, data warehouses, and ETL processes.
  • IT and Systems Internships with a Focus on BI: Offer exposure to the broader IT environment, with specific projects or responsibilities related to BI systems, data management, and analytics.
  • Product Management or Marketing Internships with Data Analytics Components: While not exclusively BI roles, these internships can provide valuable experience in using data to inform product or marketing strategies, including customer analysis, market trends, and performance metrics.

What Skills Will I Learn as a BI Developer?

As a Business Intelligence Developer, you will acquire a diverse set of technical, analytical, and business skills that are crucial for turning data into actionable insights. These skills not only enable you to support decision-making processes within an organization but also prepare you for a variety of challenges in the data-driven world.

Here are some of the key skills you will learn:

  • SQL and Database Management: Proficiency in SQL for querying databases, along with understanding database management practices to retrieve, manipulate, and analyze data efficiently.
  • Data Warehousing: Knowledge of data warehousing principles, including the design, implementation, and maintenance of data warehouses to consolidate data from multiple sources.
  • ETL Processes: Skills in Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) processes for data integration, ensuring that data is accurately extracted from various sources, transformed into a suitable format, and loaded into a data warehouse.
  • Data Modeling: Ability to create data models that represent complex business processes and relationships between data, facilitating easier data analysis and reporting.
  • BI Tools Proficiency: Expertise in BI and data visualization tools such as Tableau, Power BI, and QlikView for creating dashboards and reports that communicate insights clearly and effectively.
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking: Developing the ability to analyze data, identify trends and patterns, and think critically about the insights derived from data to support business decisions.
  • Problem-Solving: Learning to approach business and data challenges with innovative solutions, troubleshooting issues as they arise during the BI development process.
  • Project Management: Skills in managing BI projects, including planning, execution, monitoring, and closing projects effectively, often working within time and budget constraints.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Enhancing communication skills to articulate data insights and recommendations to non-technical stakeholders, and collaborating effectively with team members and departments across the organization.
  • Understanding Business Processes: Gaining insights into how businesses operate, including key drivers, performance metrics, and the strategic importance of data-driven decision-making.
  • Data Governance and Quality: Knowledge of data governance principles and practices to ensure the integrity, accuracy, and security of data used in BI processes.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a BI Developer?

The work-life balance of a Business Intelligence Developer can vary significantly depending on several factors including the industry, company culture, project deadlines, and the individual’s role within the team.

Here are some insights into life as a Business Intelligence Developer:

  • Project-Driven Workload: The workload for BI Developers often correlates with project timelines and business reporting cycles. During the end of fiscal periods or when major projects are due, you might experience higher workloads and longer hours to meet deadlines.
  • Flexible Working Arrangements: Many organizations offer BI Developers flexible working arrangements, including remote work options and flexible hours. This flexibility can contribute positively to work-life balance, allowing developers to manage their time more effectively.
  • Continuous Learning: The field of BI is rapidly evolving, with new tools, technologies, and methodologies continually emerging. BI Developers often spend time outside of traditional work hours learning new skills or staying updated with industry trends, which can impact work-life balance.
  • Collaboration and Meetings: Your role may require collaboration with various departments and stakeholders to gather requirements, present findings, and implement solutions. The need for meetings and collaborative work can vary, sometimes requiring availability beyond standard work hours, especially in global companies across different time zones.
  • Stress and Pressure: The nature of BI work, which directly impacts decision-making and business strategies, can sometimes be stressful. The pressure to deliver accurate and timely insights can impact work-life balance, particularly during critical business periods.
  • Opportunity for Autonomy: Many BI Developers report having a degree of autonomy in how they manage their projects and tasks. This autonomy can lead to a better work-life balance, as individuals can often set their own pace and manage their schedules to some extent.

What’s the Career Outlook for a BI Developer?

The career outlook for Business Intelligence Developers in the USA is very positive, reflecting the growing importance of data-driven decision-making across all sectors of the economy. BI Developers fall under the broader category of software developers, data scientists, and analysts, for which demand is expected to grow significantly.

The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow 23% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Business Intelligence Developer Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities of a BI Developer?

The job opportunities for a Business Intelligence Developer are diverse and abundant, reflecting the growing reliance on data across various industries. BI Developers have the flexibility to work in virtually any sector, including finance, healthcare, retail, technology, and government.

Here are potential positions and opportunities that BI Developers might pursue:

  • Business Intelligence Developer: Directly responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining BI solutions. This role involves creating data models, developing dashboards and reports, and analyzing data to support business decisions.
  • Data Analyst: Focuses on analyzing data to identify trends, develop reports, and make recommendations based on data findings. This role often serves as a stepping stone to more specialized BI positions.
  • BI Consultant: Works with businesses to assess their data needs, recommend BI strategies, and implement solutions to improve decision-making and business processes.
  • Data Engineer: Specializes in designing, building, and managing a company’s data architecture, including databases, data processing systems, and ETL (extract, transform, load) tools.
  • Data Scientist: Goes beyond traditional BI roles by using advanced statistical methods, machine learning, and predictive modeling to extract insights and make predictions based on data.
  • BI Architect: Designs and implements comprehensive BI systems and architectures, ensuring that the BI infrastructure supports the organization’s data needs and reporting requirements.
  • Product Manager (BI-focused): Manages the development and strategy of BI products or tools, ensuring they meet market needs and user requirements.
  • Marketing Analyst: Uses BI tools and data analytics to understand market trends, customer behavior, and campaign performance, supporting strategic marketing decisions.
  • Supply Chain Analyst: Applies BI tools to analyze supply chain data, helping to optimize operations, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.

What Type of Companies Hire a BI Developer?

Business Intelligence Developers are in demand across a wide range of industries, as organizations of all sizes seek to make data-driven decisions.

Here are the types of companies that commonly hire BI Developers:

  • Technology Firms: Companies that specialize in software, hardware, and IT services often hire BI Developers to analyze data, improve products, and optimize operations.
  • Finance and Banking: Financial institutions, including banks, investment firms, and insurance companies, rely on BI Developers to analyze financial data, manage risk, and improve customer service.
  • Healthcare: Hospitals, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical companies use BI to improve patient care, manage healthcare costs, and analyze clinical data.
  • Retail and E-commerce: These companies hire BI Developers to analyze customer behavior, optimize inventory, forecast sales, and enhance the shopping experience.
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturers use BI to streamline operations, manage supply chains, and improve product quality through data analysis.
  • Consulting Firms: Consulting firms, especially those specializing in technology and management, hire BI Developers to provide expertise and solutions to their clients across different industries.
  • Government Agencies: Local, state, and federal government agencies use BI to manage data related to public services, resource allocation, and policy making.
  • Telecommunications: Companies in this sector employ BI Developers to analyze network data, customer usage patterns, and optimize service offerings.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Agencies and marketing departments use BI to analyze campaign performance, customer demographics, and market trends to optimize strategies.
  • Transportation and Logistics: Companies in this sector rely on BI to optimize routes, manage fleets, and analyze logistical data to improve efficiency.

Should I Become a BI Developer?

Deciding to pursue a career as a Business Intelligence Developer is a significant step that demands careful consideration of your personal interests, skills, and the comprehensive insights discussed in this article. This role not only offers the chance to be at the forefront of data-driven decision-making across various industries but also promises a dynamic and fulfilling career path marked by continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies. If you have a keen interest in data analysis, technology, and their application in business strategy, and you find satisfaction in solving complex problems and making impactful decisions, then a career in BI could be well-suited for you.

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Lace Brunsden

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