In 2017, The Economist declared data had replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource. Greater amounts of data are generated daily, and businesses look to those with analytics skills to decipher and transform it from raw material into actionable insights.
Those inspired by data analytics and the expanding use of them across many industries might raise the question, What does a business analyst do? Business analysts serve a key position in a business’s ability to leverage data. They link information technology (IT) with business operations. By using data analytics, business analysts extract, analyze and develop data trend reports. They make recommendations to stakeholders factoring in financial concerns and technological possibilities. Business analysts also make data-driven decisions on product improvements and services.
How does one become a business analyst? Acquiring the necessary experience and education, including a Master of Science (M.S.) degree like the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) provides the expertise needed to succeed as a business analyst in today’s data-driven world.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Business analysts help organizations improve operations by identifying needs. They then innovate solutions, often working throughout an entire organization to locate where changes can provide value and opportunity. This requires collaborating with finance and IT teams to develop data models that drive strategic business decisions.
Business analysts use different skills to complete their work and have a strong grasp of the following methodologies:
- This is the practice of collecting and summarizing data for statistical analysis.
- This is the practice of using the relationship between different quantities to make predictions.
- Eliciting r This is the practice of gathering a project’s technical or business requirements to identify risks and needs.
Business analysts develop a layered understanding of their business. They use techniques such as surveys and interface analysis to identify project requirements and scenarios to test them and seek stakeholder feedback.
Business analysts address many of an organization’s operational issues. For example, a company may have an outdated system that needs revamping or a record of customer dissatisfaction that requires attention. Business analysts study internal operations, including budgeting, pricing and technology for areas of improvement.
Steps to Become a Business Analyst
There are several paths for becoming a business analyst, and all require the right education and experience in the field. Anyone considering a business analyst career should take the following steps:
Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Business analysts must typically possess a bachelor’s degree, along with significant technical knowledge. They must also understand the fundamentals about business structures and operations. Studying computer science or business can provide the necessary foundation in these areas.
Step Two: Gain Work Experience
After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring business analysts can seek an entry-level business analytics job. This allows for hands-on experience in problem-solving and analytical thinking. On-the-job training can also clarify which industry and specialization will be of most interest.
Step Three: Attain a Master’s Degree
Business analysts must have competencies in areas such as predictive analytics, requirements engineering, process modeling and stakeholder analysis. An MSBA trains graduates in analytics methods and specializations and provides a curriculum to cultivate advanced technical skills. Though not always required, an MSBA can improve a business analyst’s competitive edge and chances of reaching senior positions and obtaining promotions.
Business Analyst Salaries
Business analyst salaries can vary depending on the specialization. IT business analysts earn an average yearly salary of $68,364 — in a range from $49,051 to $95,561 according to November 2019 data from PayScale. Those with advanced engineering skills can earn an average of $70,164. Other skills, such as Oracle applications and project management, as well as years of experience, can also be key factors in salary differences.
Business analysis consultants earn an average yearly salary of $76,941 — in a range from $48,715 to $119,695. Those with skills in Oracle applications can make upwards of $82,863. Increased experience can also affect their salaries.
Lead business analysts earn an average yearly salary of $92,997 — in a range from $64,787 to $124,771. With process improvement skills they earn 5 percent more, and their salaries also grow with experience.
Future Growth of Business Analysts
The sheer volume of data that businesses generate today suggests that the demand for business analysts will surely grow. The business analyst role is an integral part of a company’s success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business analyst jobs will grow by 14 percent between 2018 and 2028, faster than the 5 percent national average for all other occupations.
Learn More About Becoming a Business Analyst
The increased demand for data analytics expertise has generated great opportunities in the field. Those interested in data analytics might ask, What does a business analyst do? Learn more about the position and the education required to launch a business analytics career by exploring Maryland Smith’s online MSBA.