Beyond the MSBA: How to Achieve the Business Analyst Skills Needed for Success

The technologically-driven twenty-first century requires individuals that are skilled in processing and manipulating data to discover valuable insights. A Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) offers students interested in pursuing this career path a solid grounding in the business analyst skills required to perform this job. Business analytics is a technical field that deals with data modeling, mining, and management. Data analysts are usually called upon to develop sophisticated methods of batch processing of data to offer their company insights in a wide range of topics.

Business analyst skills are not only limited to the application within a single field. Industries such as the medical field, the manufacturing arena, and even marketing need skilled, trained business analysts. Students that want to follow this career path will need a knowledge of one or more languages that deal with statistical data processing, such as R or Python, as well as a grasp of data systems and how to best apply them. Additionally, specific areas of business analysis require familiarity with the industry itself.

The Master of Science in Business Analytics

The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) gives students a head-start in pursuing a career path in business analytics. Core courses teach fundamental concepts and skills for designing, building, and managing database management systems, alternative methods for modeling organizational data, and the application of delivering data through web-based and other graphical interfaces. Other core concepts taught include data collection, data modeling and analytical algorithms, and data-driven decision making. Preictive analytics is covered with optimization and simulation modeling and solution tools that can be useful in a variety of industries and functions

There are four advanced requirements that extend the skills and knowledge of MSBA business analytic students, including courses like Social Media and Web Analytics, where online platforms, social media, and web analytics are examined in detail. Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Business helps identify strategic values, major types, methods for capturing, and storage of big data. Critical thinking processes are covered in Strategy Analysis, where analytical data generated from observation as opposed to experimental manipulation is studied. Data Processing and Analysis in Python introduces the Python programming language for the purpose of processing, analyzing, and visualizing data. This advanced curriculum simulates decision-making in a real-world environment and takes business analytics to the next level of aptitude and proficiency for professional success.

Students can also customize their MSBA degree toward their area of interest. The application courses take the fundamental and highly developed skills practiced through the core and advanced coursework and apply them in a specific field, such as health care, marketing, finance and supply chain. They are designed to give you the necessary knowledge and skills needed to pursue a well-paying, satisfying career after graduation.

Careers For Those With Business Analyst Skills

The field of business analytics is a competitive one, but jobs exist across several industries. Among the potential jobs available to a graduate holding a Master of Science in Business Analytics are:

Business Analyst Manager

Business analyst managers work towards increasing team productivity and reducing costs, while serving as the interaction personnel between IT and business teams. They are responsible for managing teams of analysts, ensuring that new hires are onboarded and trained, and allocating resources for his or her team.  Key skills for business analyst managers include the following:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Written and verbal communication

Business analyst managers usually hold a master’s degree in business analytics, and though not required, secure a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification to gain a competitive professional advantage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t list data specific to business analyst managers; however, the BLS does project 14 percent job growth between 2018 and 2028 in the field of management analytics. PayScale reports that the median annual salary of a business analyst manager is $103,261 as of November 2019.

IT Business Analyst

The IT business analyst is part IT personnel, part analytics scientist. They work with data processing under multiple software systems as well as offering insight into the potential growth and expansion of a company. The multi-faceted role of the profession focuses on using their business analyst skills in tandem with their knowledge of the industry. Key skills for IT business analysts include the following:

  • Technological proficiency
  • Problem-solving
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Project management

IT business analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in business or computer science, but many organizations seek professionals holding a master’s degree in business analytics. The BLS lists salary information of business analysts under the category of computer system analysts and reports the median annual salary at $88,740 in 2018, with a projected 9 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Project Manager

Project managers in business analytics initiate, plan and execute projects, ensuring that they’re on time and on budget.  Their responsibilities include defining project parameters, subdivision of the project into more workable parts, delegation of those smaller sub-projects to competent personnel for execution, and management of resources through the course of the entire project. An expert knowledge of the inner workings of the industry is necessary to perform this role successfully.  Key skills for project managers include the following:

  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem-solving

While a bachelor’s degree is most often required for project management roles, many employers seek project managers holding master’s degrees in business administration or business analytics. Certifications like the Project Management Professional and Certified ScrumMaster show competency in project management processes, methodologies and potential risk areas. The BLS lists information on project managers in business analytics under the category of computer and information systems managers and reports that their median annual salary in 2018 was $142,530, with a projected 11 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Data Analysis Scientist

Data analysis scientists organize and analyze structured and unstructured big data to find actionable insights, which they translate into reports that other professionals within the organization can understand. Data scientists create optimization algorithms, prediction engines and pattern detection analysis. Key skills for data analysis scientists include the following:

  • Advanced programming and machine learning
  • Advanced mathematics
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Teamwork

Data analysis scientists need a master’s degree in computer science or a related field, and although certifications aren’t required, they can be valuable. IBM, Dell, SAS, Microsoft and others offer various certifications tailored to skill sets. The BLS categorizes data analysis scientists as computer and information research scientists and reports their median annual salary at $118,370 for 2018, with a projected 16 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028.


Consultants in business analytics study, identify and analyze problems within companies. They gather data that is specific to business analytics challenges. Consultants develop recommendations and work with company leaders to optimize operations. They may build company procedures and train employees. Key skills for consultants include the following:

  • Technical aptitude
  • Self-discipline
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Quick learning

Many consultant positions require a master’s degree in a business-related field, such as business analytics. Job prospects can improve for those with a CMC certification. The BLS categorizes consultants under the category of management analysts and reports that their average annual salary in 2018 was $83,610, with a projected 14 percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Find Out More About Maryland Smith’s Business Analyst Program

Business analyst skills will continue to be in demand as technology expands to offer more specialized tools for the collection and storage of data points. Are you ready to embark on the journey to becoming a skilled business analyst? Visit the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business Online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) website today to find out more.


Recommended Reading

Is Business Analytics a Good Career?

Making the Most of Career Detours

What Is It Like to Be a Management Consultant?



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