Business Analyst Careers: Opportunity and Diversity

Business Analyst Careers

Whether you’re already working as a business analyst or just considering this career path, the future looks bright and the choices are varied. The rapid evolution of information technology and the rise of big data have opened the door for multiple types of business analyst careers, which are growing quickly.

Both public and private organizations employ business analysts. These professionals may work alone or as part of a large company that employs numerous full-time specialists and consultants.

What do companies expect from business analysts?

Companies typically seek business analysts with experience in financial analysis, data flow analysis and project management. Hiring managers also seek technology proficiency, particularly in Excel, data mining and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Duties typically include:

  • Assisting with planning, implementation, improvement, monitoring and support of business information systems across multiple departments
  • Ensuring that business data and reporting needs are met
  • Developing and monitoring data quality metrics
  • Organizing and formatting reports for distribution
  • Effectively communicating with all levels of the organization

Where do I fit in?

A business analyst career isn’t something you just fall into, typically. It’s usually the result of planned efforts. So, how do you figure out your next step up the career ladder?

First, you need to assess your current level. Are you staff, senior or manager? Each role requires different skills. Some rely more on technical attributes and others focus on leadership skills.

When deciding where to go in your position, you need to consider where your strengths lie. Are they grounded in systems knowledge or business analyst competencies? And how do you want to grow your business analyst career — within a company or as a consultant

There’s no one clear path for business analysts. As a result, consider the following: 

  • Focus on the core business analyst skills required, and solidify yourself as a solid contributor.
  • Try a lateral move. Experience is often limited by expertise. Lateral moves can provide real value and shift people into new contexts while testing competencies.
  • Think about what’s next. There are many senior-level business analyst roles as well as a number of interesting career options outside of business analysis.

What’s the outlook for compensation?

One reason demand for business analysts is so high is that more organizations want to make their big data actionable for decision making. Depending on their needs, employers are recruiting for full-time positions, engaging consultants, or using a combination of both staffing strategies.

Because these in-demand specialists can be difficult to find — and retain — many companies are prepared to offer highly skilled business analysts competitive compensation.

According to the latest Salary Guide for accounting and finance from Robert Half, business analysts, business systems analysts and business intelligence analysts at staff, senior and manager levels can all expect to see above-average increases in pay this year. As an example, the national average starting salary for senior business analysts at large companies ($250+ million in sales) is expected to range between $81,750 and $105,750 in 2016. That’s an increase of 5.0 percent from 2015.

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Additional resources for business analysts

Building an Accounting and Finance Team to Capitalize on the Promise of Big Data: See this report, developed by Robert Half and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) for insight on the specific business analytics skills managers most commonly seek, and the nontechnical or “soft” skills that they prioritize most often when hiring.

8 Common Business Analyst Interview Questions: Whether you’re just embarking on the business analyst career path or you’re a longtime professional in the field, preparing to address common types of business analyst interview questions can help ensure you’re ready to impress a potential employer when you’re looking for projects. View this post for tips.

How to Prepare for Business Analyst Interview Questions: Job descriptions stand as your guide for anticipating the types of technical questions you might field in a business analyst interview, as they will usually outline the specific knowledge you will need to bring to a business analyst position. Other types of business analyst interview questions are likely to focus on the three areas outlined in this post.

The Business Analyst Resume: How to Make Yours Stand Out: Employers of all types are in hot pursuit of skilled business analysts to help them support big data-related initiatives and to improve fiscal efficiency. But they’re also very discerning when selecting these professionals for their team. So it’s important for business analysts to make sure their resume stands out from the crowd. This post suggests several business analyst resume strategies to consider.

This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.