How to Get Hired as a Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analyst

Business intelligence analysts take an organization's accumulated data and turn it into information that leadership can use to make business decisions.

Organizations are quickly embracing the use of big data analysis, which has increased their activities in data mining, cleansing and reporting. Business intelligence analysts can help them drive their business with verifiable data. Joey Lagone, branch managerH for Robert Half Technology, says, "Decisions made from the information provided by the business intelligence analyst can have an immediately quantifiable return on investment.”

Business intelligence analyst salary projected to increase

Business intelligence analysts are in high demand, and employers are prepared to pay skilled talent well. Robert Half Technology’s Salary Guide reports that the business intelligence analyst salary in the United States is expected to increase 6.2 percent this year — with average starting compensation ranging from $113,750-$164,000.

You can use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find salary information specific to your city.

What employers look for in a business intelligence analyst

Qualifications to become a business intelligence analyst include:

  • A strong background in all aspects of database technology, with an emphasis on the use of analytical and reporting tools
  • Several years of experience with database queries, stored procedure writing, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) and data cube technology
  • A bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems or engineering
  • Strong verbal and written communication, analytical and problem-solving skills

For students who aspire to become business intelligence analysts, Lagone recommends taking courses in SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Analysys Services (SSAS) and SQL Server development. Due to the heavy use of analytics and exposure to standard tools and techniques, he also suggests that an internship in the financial industry can help students make valuable contacts and find a mentor. Lagone also recommends that professionals already in the market for business intelligence analyst jobs look for "progressive companies that utilize their IT departments to help drive business decisions, rather than just keeping the company running.”

The business intelligence analyst at work

Business intelligence analysts design and develop enterprise-wide data analysis and reporting solutions. They also review and analyze data from multiple internal and external sources. After performing their analysis, business intelligence analysts communicate their results and make recommendations to senior management. They also may be asked to develop data cleansing rules. Most business intelligence analysts will spend much of their time responding to management’s requests for specific information, but also may be expected to explore data independently to identify patterns and trends and provide new insights to the business.

Lagone says that candidates need the ability to make rational and logical decisions to ensure the data used represents is accurate and well-sourced. He adds, "Business intelligence analysts are traditionally very analytical and able to make decisions based on data — not opinions."

Look to Robert Half Technology's latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting compensation trends for a wide range of IT jobs — including business intelligence analyst.


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Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 11/15/14.