How to Become a Business Analyst

How to become a business analystBusiness analysts, also known as management analysts, analyze an organization and propose ways to improve its structure, efficiency, and profits. Business analysts determine an organization’s needs or objectives and then improve its ability to meet them. They help an organization solve its problems by analyzing relevant data, reporting their findings, and recommending a course of action. As businesses grow increasingly complex, so do the challenges that they face. By pursuing a career as a business analyst, you can help organizations remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Business Analyst Education Degree Requirements

Business analyst education degree requirements vary widely. For entry-level business analyst positions, you may only need a bachelor’s degree. Some employers require business analysts to have a master’s degree in business administration. You may also need to have experience in the industry in which you plan to consult. Few schools offer formal training for business analysts, but many fields of study provide a suitable education for aspiring business analysts, because the occupation encompasses a wide range of disciplines.

Common college majors among business analysts include business administration, accounting, economics, statistics, computer science, and engineering. There is also a non-mandatory certification for business analysts called the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation offered through the Institute of Management Consultants, which may give job seekers a competitive advantage.

Self-motivated people tend to do well in a business analyst career, because the job requires you to work with minimal supervision. You also need strong interpersonal skills, oral and written communication skills, creativity, and time management skills. In addition, business analysts need project management, analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking ability, as well as the capacity to work well with different types of people.

Becoming a Business Analyst: Career Outlook

The rise of information technology has expanded employment opportunities for business analysts. Other areas in which a business analyst may specialize include human resources, marketing, and logistics. Both public and private organizations employ business analysts. Business analysts may work as solo practitioners or as part of large organizations that employ numerous consultants.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of management analysts is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Despite rapid growth in this sector, the competition for business analyst jobs is expected to be significant, because the pool of applicants is so large and people from diverse educational and career backgrounds can qualify.

Business analyst jobs are attractive to many people, because they are challenging, allow you to work independently, and have a high salary potential. The median annual wages of management analysts was $78,490 in 2011. Business analysts working at large firms in major metropolitan areas typically tend to earn the highest yearly salaries.

If you are considering becoming a business analyst, keep in mind that there is no road map. While there are many “soft” skills that you need to develop, such as organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills, it is not necessary to pursue a specific educational or career path to become a business analyst. One of the best ways to build a career as a business analyst is to pursue a degree in a related field and then gain experience working in the industry in which you wish to consult.