How To Become A Business Analyst

Business analysts specialize in turning raw data into insights that can help companies improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability. They do this by poring over raw data to assess the company’s core operations and systems and identifying areas for improvement. This multi-dimensional job combines data and statistics skills with business acumen and creativity. If you love the challenge of helping organizations grow and thrive, the first thing you need to know is how to become a business analyst.

First, let’s check out career projects, skills you need to become an analyst, and top schools to help you get there.

Career Projections

Businesses of all sizes hire professional business analysts to help them become more efficient and profitable. With the high competition among businesses, this profession is in great demand with tremendous potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts job outlook is solid:

  • Median salary of $95,290 in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Growth rate: +10% (faster than average job growth).
  • Years of work experience needed: less than 5 years.

Subjects & Skills You Need To Master To Become A Business Analyst

You know how to become a business management analyst and which are the top colleges that offer the relevant degree programs. But before you choose this career path, it helps to understand what subjects and skills you need to master to be successful in this field.

A professional business analyst should be proficient in data management, statistics, and analytic techniques. Although the exact subjects and coursework will vary among schools, a typical will include:

  • How to manage and manipulate structured and unstructured data to make informed decisions.
  • How to leverage analytic skills in various business-related contexts.
  • Descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive analytics.
  • Statistics and econometrics for analytics.
  • Advanced statistical techniques and methodologies employed by professionals in the field.
  • Machine learning and AI techniques.
  • How to communicate effectively using advanced oral and visual presentations.
  • How to use advanced statistical and coding software such as SQL and Python.
  • How to apply theoretical analytical skills to real-world problems.

As a business analyst, in addition to technical knowledge, you will also master certain soft skills to be successful in your profession. The three most important soft skills in this role are problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and communication skills.

Top Colleges for Business Management

The Top 10 colleges for a bachelor’s degree in business management is a good place to start your college search.

  1. Babson College
  2. University of Southern California
  3. Chapman University
  4. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus
  5. San Diego State University
  6. Boston University
  7. Emory University
  8. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
  9. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  10. University of Colorado Boulder

This list highlights information about acceptance rates, SAT score requirements, and estimated net price for each of the top 10 colleges.

What’s more interesting is it also highlights the median starting salary for graduates earning a bachelor’s degree for each college. These figures make it easier to choose a college that best matches your academic grades, financial circumstances, and career goals.

undergraduate college

Flickr user Penn State

How To Become A Business Analyst With A Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a business analyst is to earn a degree in business administration, business analytics, or data science.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification you need to gain entry into this field. Few mid-sized to large companies will hire business analysts without this basic qualification.

Even with a bachelor’s degree, be prepared to spend a few years in an entry-level position with an entry-level salary. You will need a few years of experience before moving up the ladder and earning a higher salary.

How To Become A Business Analyst With A Master’s Degree

To start out strong in this field, it can be beneficial to complete a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), business analytics, or data science. Tackling your MBA involves an additional 2 years of study (or more if you are doing it while you are working) and additional post-grad college tuition. If you’re still paying off your undergrad student loans, taking on more student loans can be a daunting prospect.

One way to work around this obstacle is to first work a few years in an entry-level position soon after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. After gaining some practical on-the-job experience, consider going back to school to complete your master’s degree.

Are the additional two years of study and tuition fees worth it? Absolutely! With a master’s degree you’ll get more opportunities to work with larger companies that have more complex requirements. Not only will you get immense job satisfaction but you’ll enjoy a higher salary too.

If you choose to go this route, check out the top 10 colleges for a master’s degree in business administration. Here you’ll find all the information you need to make an informed choice about which college is the best for you to earn a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Level Up Your Career With Business Analyst Certifications

Although not mandatory, becoming a certified business analyst can put you on a fast-track to advancing your career. A business analyst certification will support your resume the professional credentials that larger companies look for.

Earning a certification shows that you’ve completed a standard exam assessed by a neutral third party and validates your professional competence. Obtaining such as certification holds tremendous value. It boosts your marketability and credibility in your industry and instantly puts you at a higher salary level. It also lays a solid foundation for advancement in your industry and increases job security.

There are several business analyst certifications that you can choose from. Each one has different requirements and each one holds a different value. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) are the two leading organizations that offer a wide range of business analyst certifications.

The most common business analyst certifications when you’re getting started in this field include:

Depending on your area of specialization, you can also get any of these specialized business analyst certifications:

How Long Does It Take To Become A Business Analyst?

Exactly how long it will take you to become a business analyst depends on the route you choose.

It generally takes 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree which is the minimum qualification. After a bachelor’s degree, you can start working in entry-level positions, gain some experience, and work your way up from there.

If you enroll in a master’s program immediately after completing your undergrad studies that generally adds another 2 years to earn an advanced degree.

An alternative to starting your MBA right away is to find a job at a company that will help you pay for your MBA program while you are working! It’s a lot of work, but the benefit of letting the company help take the financial burden is a great opportunity.

You can complete your certifications while working so that should not delay your entry into the working world.

You know how to become a business analyst and various certifications you need to advance your career. But it all starts with earning a bachelor’s degree. Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!