The need for senior business analysts continues to rise in concert with the need for businesses to gather data on their operations. Senior business analysts turn large data sets into valuable solutions by applying advanced mathematical techniques designed to pinpoint things like production overspending, customer preferences and software shortcomings.
The position requires a multifaceted skill set, including analytical skills, used in the interpretation of large data sets, and business savvy, used in determining how to prioritize one’s time and communicating the results to departments and leaders who most benefit from the information. For those interested in developing these skills, an online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business can prepare them not only for careers in this space but for leadership positions at companies.
The sections below outline the function of senior business analysts, their salary potential and the benefits of earning a graduate degree.
Big Data and the Growth of Business Analytics
The International Data Corp. (IDC) reports that revenue from big data and business analytics is expected to reach $260 billion in 2022, and that banking, manufacturing, professional services and government are the industries making the largest investments in the field. With expansion comes growth in senior business analyst salaries, as firms seek to employ qualified candidates to meet the changing needs of their customers and business.
Over half the worldwide investment in big data and business analytics solutions comes from the United States, which has emerged as their largest market. Technological advancements such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools have bolstered the business analytics market by multiplying the volume of available resources and inlets available for financial exploration and cost-saving.
For example, using historical data sets, business analysts develop analytics solutions that more efficiently project future outcomes regarding customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Similarly, business analysts tasked with improving processes within a company might concentrate on how effectively a particular software performs relative to alternative options. If their data set reveals some weaknesses, they can either make recommendations regarding better employee training or for choosing an alternative software. As these solutions improve, these professionals’ capacity to provide insight into various departments, businesses and organizations broadens.
How to Become a Business Analyst
The educational and experiential steps listed below serve to highlight a common pathway to becoming a senior business analyst. Salary expectations for those who complete all of these steps, especially earning the MSBA, are high, and growth for related positions such as management analyst is 14% from 2018 to 2028, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree serves as the first step to gaining an entry-level position in this field. Typically, workers need either a business or a STEM focus (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) to qualify for these roles. By studying business topics such as finance, economics and management, these students are better equipped to realize the goals set for them by employers. Likewise, by earning a degree in a STEM field, students understand the processes, equipment and challenges facing the ever-growing technological side of business.
Step Two: Gain Work Experience
Having work experience is an important aspect of becoming a business analyst. Internship opportunities completed while pursuing an undergraduate degree provide graduates with the hands-on exposure needed to serve as immediate assets to companies looking to hire. All things being equal, HR departments will prioritize candidates with experience over those with just degrees. As such, students interested in earning a senior business analyst salary should search for positions that include interacting with data sets to draw conclusions, demonstrating to potential employers that they have already performed similar job functions.
Step Three: Earn a Master’s Degree
For individuals who wish to gain a competitive advantage, earning a master’s degree can be a valuable pathway to career advancement. For business analysts, a Master of Science in Business Analytics is an advanced degree that can open many doors in the field. This degree highlights the technological proficiencies needed to become a business analyst and fosters the business-oriented mindset needed to interpret the data that these professionals will use to improve business processes.
Benefits of the Master of Science in Business Analytics
An MSBA from the University of Maryland can provide the skills and experience necessary to qualify for analytical leadership positions. It includes data-specific topics that apply to a wide range of industries, including healthcare, finance and marketing. Core courses introduce students to the accumulation, organization, interpretation and application of data sets for businesses.
Technical skills developed over the course of the program include experience in database management, data mining and programming languages such as Python. Students of the program also learn to develop soft skills, such as communication and leadership. Performing the duties of a business analyst is much different than communicating the results to colleagues unfamiliar with the technicalities. Business analysts need to be able to do both. Likewise, knowing how to lead a team enables business analysts to produce qualitative results in a timely and efficient manner. Graduates of the MSBA program receive instruction and practice in both.
With an MSBA, business analyst candidates can signal to employers their in-depth understanding and mastery of the necessary advanced mathematical techniques for this position. Students can enter the field with confidence, knowing that their coursework has exposed them to both foundational and advanced aspects of the business analyst position.
Senior Business Analyst Salary
According to an August 2019 PayScale report, the average senior business analyst salary is about $83,000 per year. Those in the late-career stage of their employment earn about 11% more than others with the same job title, and those just entering the position earn about 14% less, according to the same report. Prospective business analysts should also note that salaries change based on location, educational background and professional experience. For example, workers inside or near cities typically make more per year than those who work in rural areas.
The type of industry in which a business analyst works also affects salary. According to 2018 BLS data, management analysts working in the science and technical industries make more than those working for the government. Similarly, 2018 data from the BLS reports that financial analysts in the securities and commodities industries are paid the highest.
Industry website BA Times lists depth of knowledge and experience as the most important characteristics defining a business analyst. Once individuals have gained experience through the completion of various projects, they qualify for leadership positions. Commercial off-the-shelf projects, new development projects and support projects are three key project types in which senior business analysts should have experience, according to BA Times. By gaining experience in the field and developing a network of professional connections, candidates can potentially achieve lucrative, rewarding business analytics roles.
Learn More About the MSBA at the University of Maryland
Earning a senior business analyst salary is the result of years of dedication and educational experience. The skills developed over the course of the Online MSBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business can prepare graduates for mid-level and advanced positions in this field. With this head start, these workers can go on to gain the experience they need to take on leadership roles.
Those hoping to get an upper hand on the competition and complete an MSBA should consider the Maryland Smith Online MSBA program. Learn more about this program today.