A business analyst aims to help businesses improve their processes, products, and services through collected data and analyses. They work closely with IT, software developers, and other innovative disciplines to ensure the company they work for is as efficient as possible. In this article, we discuss the details of being a business analyst, where you can work with this profession, and how you can become one.
What is a business analyst?
Business analysts work primarily with data and solutions. It's common for business analysts to use storytelling through data and data visualization.
Business analysts work primarily with IT and financial departments within organizations. The business analyst will create models that will influence business decisions depending on the data and information they've gathered. A business analyst will work to add value to products, services, etc., and will gauge whether changes to these processes are possible when comparing them to the company's technological and financial restraints.
A business analyst will need to have experience with forecasting and budgeting in a professional setting. Understanding regulatory and reporting requirements in your industry will also prove useful for those working or interested in this field.
Business analysts can perform any of the following tasks for companies:
- Analyzing: Building analyses of various problems and creating solutions for businesses based on collected data
- Evaluating: Determining business requirements
- Reporting: Managing pricing reports
- Budgeting: Managing business demands and evaluating whether outsourcing or in-sourcing is required. Business analysts must also analyse various projects, the data associated with these projects, and their respective budgets
Business analysts work particularly well in software development. They analyse programs and current data to identify trends and functions that can be used to improve solutions. This professional tends to work more with front-end development; wherein, data is compiled and organized.
Where do business analysts work?
The good news is that business analysts can work nearly anywhere. Their careers can bring them to companies in the technology industry, as well as nonprofit organizations, finance companies, and even government agencies. Most often, business analysts work in information technology or management consulting.
If you're looking for more variety in your career, business analysts can also work for several agencies at once. Many analysts will have a primary job with one organization and several jobs as consulting analysts with other organizations. In this sense, they frequently work both "in-house"; wherein, they manage projects for a specific employer, or they can work for a consulting firm.
Business analysts are important figures in any company or organization, which is why you can expect to have a salary that matches. The average business analyst will make $69,273 per year and the average starting salary is around $52 000. Someone who has a good combination of skill and experience will have a salary that's closer to $150 000 per year.
As time goes on, business analysts are becoming more in-demand and there aren't enough professionals to fill these positions. As such, those looking to jump into this field can expect increased job security.
How to become a business analyst
Here is a step-by-step guide to become a business analyst.
1. Get an education
The first thing you'll want to do is get the right education. The majority of entry-level careers in this field will require a university degree. While you only need to have an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree may prove useful.
2. Get work experience
Before you start working in this field, it will be useful to gain work experience as a business analyst. While this is discussed in more detail below, you can get work experience through internships and by working in other departments at a company you're interested in applying to. This will provide you with more knowledge and contacts within that organization.
3. Apply to several places
You should apply for several positions that appeal to you. This will provide you with more versatility and leveraging power to find the job that really works for you.
Educational requirements and training
Becoming a business analyst requires a combination of education, training, and skills. Here's a more in-depth look at becoming a business analyst.
Business analysts typically require bachelor or equivalent undergraduate degrees in the field. Degrees in things like accounting, business, or related industries will be satisfactory in most situations. For those looking to gain extra skills and training, it may be best to take courses in math or statistics.
If there's a company you've set your sights on, you should find out whether you'll need a master's degree because some business analyst jobs do require graduate degrees in business and financial fields. A master's degree will allow you to find higher-paying jobs and will qualify you for jobs at higher levels in organizations.
Training following education
A lot of the training required for business analysts is done while working or while you're in school. A lot of these programs will require you to do an internship. The training received during internships will depend on the organization you're matched with. They may ask that you complete formations on IT systems, programming, and statistics.
There are several skills needed to become a great business analyst. Here's a list of some of them.
- Effective communication: A business analyst will need to communicate any of their findings and recommendations with their colleagues. Moreover, an analyst will communicate with several disciplines in the company and will need to communicate effectively with each one.
- Problem-solving: As a business analyst, your main job will be to find problems and solve them. As such, you'll also need to be able to think quickly on your feet.
- Organization: Because of how much information data analysts collect over time, they need to be able to organize that data in functionally. You need to be able to keep track of various information and will need to have a clear view of every detail.
- Theoretical knowledge: If you're going to be drafting analyses and presenting solutions to different departments, you should have a good idea of how those departments work within the organizational structure.
Tips for becoming a business analyst
Here's a list of tips and tricks for those who want to become a business analyst in Canada.
Narrow down where you want to work
Because business analysts can work anywhere, you'll likely want to narrow down the scope of your interests. When it eventually comes down to interviews, it will be useful to familiarize yourself with particular domains, so you can showcase your knowledge when you're in front of the hiring manager. Moreover, understanding your domain will give you a better idea of how the organization you're applying for will function.
Work on your behavioural skills
Becoming a business analyst means having good behavioural and communication skills. Moreover, you'll need to hone in on these skills to both pass your interview with the hiring manager and to excel as a business analyst. You can practice your communication and interview skills with those around you.
Create your resume
Your resume is going to be the hiring manager or recruiter's first impression of you. Your resume should only include information that pertains to your career and studies as a business analyst. It should also be clear of any and all jargon.
Find a good internship
Finding the right internship for your needs will be vital. This will provide you with the professional experience necessary to jumpstart your career. This will also help you to narrow down the industries you're interested in and will help you to work on your professional skills. You can also ask your supervisor questions and to truly learn about the career before you finish your education.
Another great way to gain experience and to improve your standing as a future business analyst is to volunteer in the field. Volunteering keeps you engaged in your community and, as such, is extremely valuable on a resume. Find a company that can provide you with more experience. You can also volunteer to network and build connections that will later serve you when you start applying for jobs.
Consider getting certified
Certifications can set you apart from your competition and will make you a more desirable candidate to recruiters. These improve performance by keeping you up-to-date with current innovations in the field and by educated candidates on market opportunities.
Certifications like IIBA and ECBA are viable options for those who are looking to become certified in Canada.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.