The Only Guide You'll Need On How To Become A Business Analyst
So you think you want to become a Business Analyst? That's great! That's fantastic! Congratulations! You've already taken the first step in becoming one, because you've decided on what you want to do. And that, as you know, is no small feat.
Now we've mapped out the whole process, from setting up a resume through negotiating your offer. Each section from here on goes into specific detail on the obstacles you'll face as you pursue a career as a business analyst.
What It Takes To Become A Business Analyst
So, what does a Business Analyst actually do?
" Business analysts discover the answers to questions no one has thought to ask – they take ownership of problems, develop innovative options and work with others in the organization to determine the correct course of action."
- John Spence, Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America
Business Analysts (also known as business consultants) advise organizations on how to improve their business – finances, efficiency, all the things. They consult with the company's management and basically come up with a plan to make any changes the company needs to, in order to be the best company it can be.
Many business analysts work on a contract basis for several companies—not necessarily just one company at a time. They can do this by being self-employed or perhaps working for a business consulting firm.
If this is the job for you, you should be prepared for some long hours and tight deadlines.
You can read more about it in the articles mentioned above. It's good to get a sense of what the job entails before you jump right into it.
Here's a quick snapshot as we get started.
|Business Analyst Snapshot|
|$40,000 - $100,000|
|Bachelor's - 34.86%
Masters - 31.09%
|Business Process Models
Finance and Financial Management Services
|New York University
George Mason University
1. Understanding In More Detail What A Business Analyst Does
We have kind of glossed over the key functions of a business analyst thus far. In order to give you a better sense of what's in store, we went to the source -- job listings.
Here are some actual bullet points on what people are expected to do as a business analyst from real job descriptions:
- As a Business Analyst you will be responsible for working alongside stakeholders to help grow their business. You'll serve as the conduit between the user and the teams. You will also be working with clients and management to analyze and report significant data.
- Define, evaluate, and validate requirements, business functional design, and technical design for complex business issues. Act as a liaison representing their department and other groups. Coordinate with IT to support problem resolution.
- Understand the software development lifecycle as well as the product development lifecycle. Strong communication is a pivotal skill. You will be working with multiple clients on multiple projects simultaneously.
We suggest simply reading through current, actual, job descriptions to get even more detail. However, there are common themes that can be already be seen. Namely, communicating between two parties, fully defining the scope of the work at hand, and working on multiple projects at once.
2. First Thing's First: School
The first step in becoming a business analyst is getting your Bachelor's Degree. There are some companies that require a Master's for the job, but mostly, a Bachelor's is plenty sufficient.
Having majored in any of the following or related fields will give you a leg up on the job hunt:
- Business administration
- Computer and information science
It can also help to get an internship during or just after your years as an undergrad. You can look for one specifically tailored to students hoping to gain business analyst experience.
3. Gain Some Kind Of Work Experience
This might seem like one of those "easier said than done" points — and yes, we know it's hard to imagine graduating from college and just landing the job you want — but that's not what we're suggesting.
Sometimes, before you can land the job you want as a business analyst job, you need to simply gain experience. It won't be your perfect job, but in the long run, it will help you land it.
Look for entry-level positions in related fields:
- Business management
- Information tech
- Human resources
- Other related fields
These types of jobs will qualify you for a large subset of business analyst jobs. Then, you can start looking for entry-to-mid-level positions as a business analyst.
4. Think About Getting Additional Education
We said earlier that most business analyst positions don't require additional education, but it is an option if you have the ability and the resources.
If you want to be five steps ahead of the rest in a really competitive job space, you might to consider an MBA. Most MBA programs are two years, however, some schools offer accelerated programs.
We took at our internal data of over 50,000 business analyst resumes to see the maximum level of education achieved. Here's the breakdown:
- Bachelor's - 34.86%
- Masters - 31.09%
- Certificate - 2.7%
- Associate Degree - 2.68%
- High School Diploma - 0.86%
- Doctorate - 0.81%
- License - 0.03%
- Other - 8.52%
That means completing a masters puts you ahead of about 60%+ of the field.
If you don't have time for a masters, then think about getting certified.
5. Pad The Resume With A Business Analyst Certification
Once you have some work experience under your belt in the field, it's a good idea to check in on available business analyst certifications. Some employers will even help you pay for such a certification.
There are three different levels of the Certified Management Consultant exam (the CMC). They are: basic, experienced, and management.
With the basic level, you'll need a bachelor's degree, five satisfactory evaluations, and at least three years of work experience.
With the experienced and management levels, you'll need more work experience.
Plus, you'll need to pass a written and oral exam to become certified. All that to say—a certification will most certainly help you stand out in the field, garnering you a higher salary and more competitive position.
6. Prep For The Interview
Business Analyst interviews can be enjoyable or torture, it all depends on if you're prepared for the types of questions that come your way. Typically, there are three types of interview questions to be ready for:
- Behavioral -- Tell me about a time you did...
- Technical -- What makes a fully defined requirement?
- General Interest-- Tell me about yourself.
Behavioral questions attempt to see how you've worked with a team in the past and achieved results. You want to be as detailed as possible for all of your reasoning throughout your story while also demonstrating results.
Techincal questions get out your raw knowledge of the field. Have you worked under certain processes? Are you familiar with certain technologies and software? That kind of thing.
Lastly, general interest questions let the interview learn about you and see if you're a good culture fit for the company. By the end, if you've connected, they should be able to enjoy a plane ride with you.
We have more detailed reading on exactly what kind of interview questions a business analyst can expect.
7. Some Advice You May Not Have Heard Recently - Try To Have Fun
There's a tendency in the business world to take everything "Very Seriously" and forget about that most important F Word – fun!
Being a Business Analyst is a lot of work—no sugar-coating that—but it is also a rewarding, challenging, and stimulating job. If you're the type of person who finds fun in self-determination, helping businesses to succeed, and in working in a fast-paced environment, this might just be the job for you.
So have fun with it.
Detailed List Of Business Analyst Salaries By State
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