Business Analyst: Educational Requirements

Sep 02, 2019

Degrees in business analysis typically cover the intersections between economics and business administration. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about how to become a business analyst, types of business analysts, and the career outlook for these positions.

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Types of Business Analysts

Business analysts assist management executives, clients, and stockholders by analyzing business practices, identifying potential problems, and providing financial or managerial solutions. Analysts are essential to businesses because of their ability to reduce wasted costs and streamline organizations. Those seeking careers as business analysts may choose to become budget analysts, financial analysts, or management analysts. A job in any of these fields requires at least an undergraduate degree, and financial analysts may need to be licensed. Some firms may prefer that their analysts hold a master's degree.

What Qualifications Do I Need to be a Business Analyst?

To become a business analyst, you should pursue a bachelor's degree in a specific field of business analysis. Bachelor's degree programs in finance, accounting or business administration provide training for college students who want to become business analysts. Introductory courses vary depending on the major, but can include investment management, taxation, and 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 understand how to run a business more efficiently.

Business Analyst Certification

Various professional certifications are available for the different types of business analysts. Budget analysts working for the government can become Certified Government Financial Managers. This credential requires two years of experience working in government budgets, a bachelor's degree with 24 hours of financial management coursework, and passing scores on several exams. Management analysts may pursue a Certified Management Consultant credential to increase their job prospects; this certification requires education and experience in the field, reviews from clients, an interview, and an exam. Financial analysts may be required to hold a license for certain types of financial activities; typically this license is sponsored by an employer and is not necessary to have before getting a job.

Business Analyst Requirements and Salary

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 (2016-2026) 7%* 11%* 14%*
Average Salary (2018) $76,220* $85,660* $83,610*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 a master's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for this career in May 2018 was $76,220. Between 2016 and 2026, job prospects are expected to increase by 7%, which is about average job growth for all occupations.

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 hireable. Obtaining a bachelor's degree is the most typical path to employment, although a master's will qualify candidates for higher paying positions. The average salary of financial analysts was $85,660 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs in this field are predicted to increase by 11% between 2016 and 2026.

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 described above, 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 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average salary for these professionals of $83,610. Job opportunities are predicted to increase by 14% between 2016 and 2026.

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