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How to Become A Business Analyst

Forbes has listed business analysts among the Top 10 Jobs that offer Work and Family Balance. The publication has also declared the occupation as one of the Happiest Jobs For The Class of 2014. Demand for business analysts is expected to grow in future so pursuing a career in this field can be a suitable option for those who wish to enter the corporate world as well as individuals with strong analytical and problem solving skills.

What do Business Analysts Do?

Also known as management analysts, business analysts are responsible for proposing ways to improve a business’s efficiency. They advice managers on how to make organizations more profitable, and also analyze financial data such as expenditure, revenue and employment reports. Besides, business analysts may also interview personnel, recommend new systems and procedures and develop solutions or alternative practices as well.

Organizations hire these professionals to develop strategies that would help them enter new markets and remain competitive. Some of these professionals may work for a particular business while others work as consultants.

Many business analysts specialize in inventory management and other specialized areas. Some also focus on a particular industry such as telecommunications or healthcare.

Becoming a Business Analyst

If you have business acumen and strong communication and leadership skills, pursuing a career as a business analyst can be an ideal career choice. Business analysts generally hold a bachelor’s degree, but some employers prefer to hire those with an MBA degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Students interested in becoming business analysts can also enroll in the management consulting programs offered at some colleges and universities.

What Courses Will you Study?

The bachelor’s and master’s programs in business administration may instruct students in a range of topics that will help them develop analytical and leadership skills. Courses typically taught are:

  • Management
  • Economics
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Political Science

Business consultants generally participate in conferences in order to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field.

Licenses and Certifications

Business analysts may get the designation of Certified Management Consultant offered by the Institute of Management Consultants USA. For this, candidates must meet the required education and experience levels, and pass an exam, along with an interview. Besides, they may also be required to submit client reviews.

Do I Need Work Experience?

According to the BLS, many business analysts get into the field with years of related work experience. Organizations specializing in a particular area generally prefer to hire business analysts with experience in the relevant areas such as:

  • Information Technology
  • Human Resources
  • Management

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills – Since business analysts have to deal with people including managers and employees, they should have good interpersonal skills. Getting along with people in an effective manner will help them achieve the organization’s goals.

Analytical skills – Absolutely essential to this line of work are analytical skills. Business analysts should be proficient in interpreting different information and must draft proposals based on these findings.

Communication skills – Strong communication is another skill which is useful for business analysts. They should be good communicators of their ideas in both writing and speaking. Good listening skills are also indispensible so that business analysis may understand the organization’s problems and suggest suitable solutions.

Organizational skills – Business analysts must be able to organize their work as well. They should have time-management skills to work under pressure and tight deadlines.

Problem-solving skills – Problem solving skills are also essential for those who seek a career as a business analyst. These professionals should be able to think out-of- the-box and solve clients' problems.

What is the Career Outlook for Business Analysts?

Career prospects for business analysts look positive in the years to come. According to the BLS, employment of these professionals is likely to grow at the rate of 19%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations between 2012 and 2022.

Business analysts held about 718,700 jobs in 2012. About 21% of business analysts were self-employed. According to the BLS, opportunities are expected to be more for business analysts with a certification or a graduate degree. Additionally, professionals with fluency in a foreign language and expertise in sales or public relations may also have better job prospects.

Factors Responsible for the Increased Demand for Business Analysts

Organizations seek ways to become more efficient, to drive up their profits, and therefore there will be an increased demand for consulting services. Development of international business will also spur the demand for these professionals. As local businesses become more globalized,  they will need business analysts to help them make the right strategy for the international markets.

Besides, government agencies will seek the services of business analysts in order to find ways to improve efficiency and reduce expenses.

Where do Business Analysts Work?

Business analysts generally work in the following industries:

  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Federal, state and local governments
  • Insurance companies

How Much do Business Analysts Earn?

According to the BLS, business analysts earned a median annual income of $78,600 in 2012. The top paid professionals earned over $142,580 (2012). However, the precise income depends on a variety of factors such as area of expertise, qualification and experience.

In 2012, business analysts in federal government, management, scientific, and technical consulting services earned more than those who worked for management of companies and enterprises, and insurance carriers.

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