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Business Analyst: Educational Requirements

Degrees in business analysis typically cover the intersections between economics and business administration. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for business analysis graduates.

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Essential Information

Business analysts assist management executives, clients and stockholders by analyzing business practices, identifying potential problems and providing financial or managerial solutions. Many of these professionals choose to specialize as either a budget analyst, financial analyst or management analyst. Analysts may be essential to businesses because of their ability to reduce wasted costs and streamline organizations. Bachelor's degree are generally required for candidates, although some firms may request their analysts possess a master's degree.

Career Budget Analyst Financial Analyst Management Analyst
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree; a master's is often required Bachelor's degree; a master's is necessary for advancement Bachelor's degree; a master's is necessary for advancement
Other Requirements Becoming a Certified Government Financial Manager may increase job prospects Licensure through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Becoming a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) may increase job prospects
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 6%* 16%* 19%*
Average Salary (2013) $72,560* $91,620* $89,990*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Students who earn a bachelor's degree or master's degree in business administration, finance, accounting or a closely related field may qualify for work as business analysts. Three common types of business analysis positions are profiled in detail below.

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts study the spending habits and related data of companies and public institutions to determine how capital should be spent to ensure maximum profitability. While they do not make final decisions regarding budgets, their expertise is strongly valued by managers and government officials. Employers typically require that budget analysts possess a bachelor's degree, although many prefer candidates with their master's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for this career in May 2013 was $72,560. Between 2012 and 2022, job prospects are expected to increase by 6%, a slower growth than the national average.

Financial Analysts

Financial Analysts, also referred to as securities or investment analysts, offer advice on investment decisions. Many of these analysts choose to focus on specific products, industries, or markets, in order to make themselves more hirable. Obtaining a bachelor's degree is the most typical path to employment, although a master's will qualify candidates for higher positions. The average salary of financial analysts was $91,620 in May 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs in this field are predicted to increase by 16% between 2012 and 2022.

Management Analysts

Management Analysts, or management consultants, work with the heads of businesses to improve efficiency and, ultimately, profitability. Unlike the other two types of analysts listed in this section, management analysts are more likely to work as freelance consultants. Bachelor's degrees are typically expected of these professionals, while the most successful usually obtain their Master of Business Administration (MBA). In May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average salary for these professionals of $89,990. Job opportunities are predicted to increase by 19%, much higher than the national average of 11%.

Educational Requirements for a Business Analyst

Bachelor's degree programs in finance, accounting or business administration may provide training for college students who want to become business analysts. Introductory courses vary depending on the major, but can include those in investment management, taxation or basic cost accounting. Additionally, some programs require foundational mathematics, statistics or econometrics courses that help prepare students for financial modeling.

Some finance and accounting departments require students to achieve a minimal grade point average in foundational courses in order to be accepted into the major. Once students meet these requirements, they may begin taking more advanced classes in business law, financial accounting or taxation. Students may also begin to acquire more specialized knowledge in these upper-level courses. For example, finance majors may begin learning about estate planning and risk management, while accounting students may delve more deeply into internal controls and auditing.

Practicums or Internships

College students may receive credit for participating in professional practicum or internship opportunities. Finance interns may apply learned techniques in order to create a portfolio of financial assets and demonstrate their investment strategies. Accounting students may gain on-the-job experience analyzing balance sheets and income statements.

Graduate Degrees

Some organizations may prefer to hire those who have earned a Master of Science in Finance, a Master of Accounting or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Through individual and group assignments, as well as case studies, graduate students are able to gain added insight into business analysis.

Advanced courses such as financial strategy, investment management and mathematical modeling further help students hone their skills on cost evaluation and financial decision-making. MBA students may take additional supplemental courses in strategic operations and organizational behavior in order to better understanding how to run a business more efficiently.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics