When business improvement projects fail, poor planning and communication are often to blame. It's why 66% of projects aren't expected to finish on time or on budget.
As more companies realize the need to fix outdated processes and adopt new technology to stay competitive, the demand for business analysts remains high. If you’re an analytical thinker with a knack for solving business problems, becoming a business analyst is a rewarding and lucrative career path. You’ll play a key role in your organization and have endless opportunities to grow in your career.
What Is a Business Analyst?
A business analyst is a vital link between a company’s business objectives and IT. They facilitate communication between stakeholders, project teams and developers to execute projects, cut costs and improve quality.
A business analyst defines, prioritizes and gets feedback and approval on business requirements. They then form a strategy to transform those requirements into a plan that IT staff and other team members can execute.
Business analysts are involved in a wide variety of issues, depending on the type of company they work for. This creates a job that is fast paced and ever evolving.
What Do Business Analysts Do?
Business analysts evaluate organizational processes, structures and goals to identify performance gaps and determine information-based solutions. Successful business analysts provide direction and support that positively impact a business’ bottom line.
Business analysts play a critical role in business. They understand the needs of both the business side and technical side and often serve as “translators” between management and IT.
Technical team members rely on business analysts to interpret their tasks in terms and they can quickly act upon. Conversely, analysts can convert technical jargon into more user-friendly terms for management and non-technical stakeholders.
Business Analyst Job Description
Here are some key functions of a business analyst’s job:
- Assess business needs by communicating with management and staff directly, and by conducting surveys and workshops with stakeholders.
- Understand how technological solutions are implemented and create a plan that efficiently uses them to achieve business goals.
- Create detailed business analyses, define business requirements, outline problems and brainstorm solutions for operational and technical changes.
- Work in cooperation with project managers and communicate progress of projects to stakeholders.
- Track and validate solutions, and measure the value of the changes to the organization for further improvements or refinements.
How Much Do Business Analysts Make?
The average entry-level business analyst salary in the United States is $67,000. However, salaries for business analysts can be as high as $83,356, according to Salary.com. Many factors influence salary variances, including location, education, certifications, performance, additional skills and experience.
How to Become a Business Analyst
Whether you’re entering the field with previous IT experience or starting from scratch, there are two paths you can take to become a business analyst.
Want to learn business analyst skills fast? Discover business analysis training courses happening near you.
Apply Directly Out of College
You can apply for entry-level business analyst positions right out of college after earning a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, information systems, human resources or another related field.
As a new grad, how do you stand out from other applicants?
Demonstrating strong communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills will help differentiate you from the pack. Adding business analysis internships to your résumé during college will also give you an edge over other applicants.
Make a Career Transition
If you’re currently working in another area of IT or business, you probably already possess many of the skills required to become a business analyst. For example, a software developer’s analysis and data mining skills transfer seamlessly to the responsibilities of a business analyst.
If you come from a business background, understanding operational processes and project management will give you an advantage in a business analysis career. Transferable skills can help you skip entry-level positions and ease naturally into the business analyst role.
If you lack business analyst qualifications, New Horizons can help.
How to Become a Business Analyst in 3 Steps
There are some important skills you need to master to become a business analyst.
Here’s how to prepare.
1. Learn Core Business Analysis Skills
You’ll need to have these essential skills under your belt as a new business analyst. Each of these skills have corresponding training classes you can take to further your knowledge:
- Documentation skills: Creating clear, concise documentation is critical. Business analysts are responsible for documenting functional requirements, wireframes, business cases and more. Strong documentation and writing skills will help you get started.
- Analysis skills: Business analysts spend a large chunk of time analyzing problems and determining solutions. Knowing how to interpret business, software and information workflows will help you advance in your career.
- Business analysis tools: As a new business analyst, you’ll need to know basic office programs like Excel and PowerPoint and common visual modeling tools like Microsoft Visio. Experience using project management tools is another plus.
- Visual modeling methods: Business analysts are expected to use flowchart methods like BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) to analyze, improve and automate business processes.
- Elicitation skills: Business analysts run special kinds of meetings called elicitation sessions to communicate project requirements to stakeholders. Understanding how to write effective requirements and run efficient meetings is a crucial business analyst job function.
When applying for business analyst jobs, these skills prove you have the fundamentals to be successful in the position.
2. Take Business Analysis Training Courses
Whether you’re just entering the business analysis field or you want to earn a professional certification, taking business analysis training courses will help you acquire the advanced skills you need to get ahead.
Investing in business analyst education should cover a wide range of critical job functions, including:
- Writing compelling business cases and requirements documents
- Supporting strategic business recommendations with sound budgeting
- Best practices in process mapping using Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)
- How to solve practical business problems using Business Process Diagrams (BPDs)
- Being proficient in Agile project management
Check out our full list of business analysis training courses.
3. Earn a Business Analyst Certification
If you’re interested in pursuing a senior business analyst role, consider earning a professional certification.
Business analysis certifications increase your professional development opportunities in your current organization and can boost your salary by an average of 11 percent.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers three certification levels for business analysts.
- Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA): This certificate targets recent college graduates and professionals transitioning careers. Earning the ECBA recognizes that you have entered the field of business analysis.
- Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA): You’re eligible for this certification after two to three years of business analysis experience.
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP): This certification proves you are capable of managing and leading in a business analysis role. It requires five or more years of BA experience.
All three IIBA certifications require a certain number of professional development hours. You can fulfill these hours through approved classes (online or in-person), webinars, workshops and self-directed learning.
The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification is highly recommended for people who want to achieve a senior BA position. Earning the CBAP demonstrates your dedication to the industry and your ability to lead business improvement projects.
Become a Business Analyst With the Help of New Horizons Training
If you want to become a business analyst, investing in professional training will give you the skills to enter the role with confidence.
Whether you want to get certified or add new skills to your résumé, New Horizons offers comprehensive training courses at every expertise level to enhance your business analyst career.
Ready to jumpstart your career as a business analyst? Get started today with New Horizons’ business analysis training courses.