How To Become a Business Analyst (With Roles and Salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A business analyst helps companies integrate and adopt new systems that innovate their business operations. Technology is a major component in the success of companies, so there's a high demand for business analysts who can help bring meaning to new implementations or systems. A business analyst can also keep a company relevant and competitive, so knowing what the job entails can help you determine if this is the right career for you. In this article, we discuss what a business analyst does, how much they earn and how to become a business analyst.

Related: 9 Essential Business Analyst Skills

How to become a business analyst

Becoming a business analyst typically follows a similar career path as many other business intelligence opportunities. If you would like to learn how to become a business analyst, follow these steps:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

There's no specific degree that you can obtain to become a business analyst. Instead, focus on finding a relevant degree, such as accounting or business information systems. Be sure to choose a course that reflects the skills that you would need as a business analyst, such as business techniques or data analysis. Relevant skills that students can learn while earning their undergraduate degrees include:

  • Understanding business workflow systems and how to analyse them.

  • Presenting compelling findings to stakeholders and managers in a business.

  • Using business modelling techniques effectively.

2. Obtain work experience

One of the best ways to understand the role of a business analyst is to get some hands-on experience of the role. Applying for internships or voluntary positions helps you obtain some real-world experience that can inform you about the role of a business analyst. Ideally, you need to find a company that lets you work alongside a business analyst to get a solid understanding of the work required.

3. Advance your education further

Even with an undergraduate degree, there is still a lot to learn about business analysis. Consider studying for a master's degree or other relevant higher education qualification, such as project management or database analytics. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has several courses that you can take which can increase your knowledge and authority as a business analyst. These courses include:

  • Level 1 - Entry Certificate in Business Analysis

  • Level 2 - Certification of Capability in Business Analysis

  • Level 3 - Certified Business Analysis Professional

These qualifications can help to showcase your level of experience in business analysis. This can be an excellent way to improve your current level of expertise and move into a higher-paying position in your chosen industry. You may also need to show these certifications to move into higher positions in this field.

Related: Business Analyst Cover Letter: Tips and Examples

What is the role of a business analyst?

Work as a business analyst varies depending on what industry you operate within. Typically, as a business analyst, you dedicate your time to analysing workflows and optimising how a business operates. Some duties that business analysts handle are:

  • Assessing a business for weaknesses in how they operate, the systems they use or the policies that they implement. You can achieve this through analysing company data and methodologies.

  • Creating concepts and ideas that improve business operations.

  • Drafting plans that include the benefits and ramifications of any new improvements.

  • Communicating with stakeholders and management about any inspections or assessments.

  • Ensuring the transition to new implementations happens smoothly.

  • Tracking the success and efficiency of any changes to system processes.

To provide a useful service, having a thorough understanding of the industry, including upcoming trends, business practices and projections, can help. You also need to communicate this effectively to management and higher-ups in the company. When things go right for a business analyst, any positive changes they implement help improve how the business operates.

As businesses rely on technology more by the day, expect your analyst role to work alongside the IT department. Here, they can develop new systems to boost the overall productivity and efficiency of workflows within a business. Business analysts use hard data sets as evidence to compare company productivity before and after the implementations.

Related: 8 Interview Questions and Answers for Business Analysts.

What can a business analyst specialise in?

Business analysts branch off into a handful of different specialisations depending on their career path. Below, we have outlined the four most common specialisations for business analysts:

  • Planning: This includes strategic plans and identifying the ever-changing needs of a business.

  • Analysis: This involves inspecting business models to create effective plans to reach new markets.

  • Efficiency: This includes streamlining workflows by making improvements to the overall design of work.

  • Working across departments: This ensures compatibility with current systems to implement innovative business solutions.

Working as a business analyst requires you to work iteratively, bringing in new processes, analysing their effectiveness and making any changes as and when required. The overall goal of a business analyst is to use your business insights and IT innovations to implement new ways of working, which ultimately improve profits and business productivity.

Related: How To Write a Business Analyst CV

How much does a business analyst earn?

The average salary for a business analyst is £42,568. This can vary depending on location, company size, experience and education. As a business analyst, you can advance your careers laterally, depending on your career goals and skill set. You may grow your business analysts career into roles such as business architect, business manager or even a vice president position on a company board. Consider the role you want and the company you would like to work for and compare it to other roles with different companies in the market.

What skills do you require to become a business analyst?

A business analyst needs to be comfortable assessing project models, analysing figures and making realistic projections for a business. To do this effectively, you can benefit from a number of hard and soft skills. Some of these skills are:

Technical proficiency

Being tech-savvy is a huge part of being a business analyst because you use several types of programming files in your work. This may include wireframing tools or software used to make diagrams need be part of your repertoire as a business analyst. As these programs grow in complexity, business analysts are finding benefits from learning new programming languages to improve how they work.

Related: 8 business analyst's skills for CV (and how to improve them)

Communication skills

Being able to communicate your thoughts effectively is pivotal to your success as a business analyst. Both written and verbal communication are necessary for business analysts, as they justify any changes to the workflow to company managers and stakeholders. Business analysts are often responsible for explaining any of these changes across departments.

An ability to analyse

To be a good business analyst, you need to have strong analytical skill. This helps you identify, understand and assess any problems within a company. Your analysis skills can also help you target weak spots in workflows and improve how a company operates.

Strong critical thinking skills

Being able to assess a situation, workflow issue or business dilemma with critical thinking can be helpful for your career as a business analyst. Not only does critical thinking help avoid any avoidable mistakes, but it ensures that all new processes work as intended when it comes time to roll out the changes. Part of your responsibilities in this role is to consider all aspects of business change, so having strong critical thinking skills is essential for your success.

Good problem-solving abilities

Business analysts often look for flaws or issues in workflows in places that you might not expect to find them. From identifying where a company could improve to coming up with novel solutions, you need problem solving to identify issues and create useful solutions that improve business operations and keep stakeholders happy. Your work may involve assisting a company that has several problems, so your ability to identify and solve these problems is invaluable.

Excellent research skills

Finding where the problems are is half of the battle for data analysts. The next step is to decide which changes you want to implement to improve workflow. To do this, data analysts perform several tasks, such as document analysis, information mini and speaking with industry experts about how they might handle the situation.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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