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Business Intelligence Analyst Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a business intelligence analyst. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and prospects to find out if this is the career for you.

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A bachelor's degree in computer science and a certification in industry-specific computer languages are required to become a business intelligence analyst. Job opportunities are available in the business, education and law enforcement industries.

Essential Information

Business intelligence analysts (BIAs) use computer software programs to go through large amounts of data and locate specific pieces of information to make reports. They then use their findings to create presentations discussing the company's level of efficiency and each department's progress over a selected timeline.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in computer science
Other Requirements Certification in specific computer languages
Projected Job Growth 21% from 2014-2024* for computer systems analysts
Median Salary (2015) $85,800 annually* for computer systems analysts

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options for Business Intelligence Analysts

Job Overview

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), business intelligence analysts, also known as computer systems analysts, aid business managers in making decisions by creating summary reports that discuss a company's current standings. Job openings for computer systems analysts, of which business intelligence analysis is a part, are expected to grow by 21% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The BLS also reports that the median annual salary for computer systems analysts was $85,800 as of May 2014.

In most industries, BIAs work with department managers to verify data input procedures. After creating and implementing programs that cross-examine data from all departments, BIAs then present their condensed findings to top executives by means of live presentations or printed reports.

Business Intelligence Analysis Jobs in the Education Industry

Universities, community colleges, and K-12 school districts all function through the work of multiple departments. The amount of data put out by each department is extensive, and thus BIAs are needed to comb through the piles of data to find strands of specific information.

According to recent job postings, employers in the education industry expect BIAs to create data-mining programs that can produce summary reports of requested information, such as student enrollment or staff productivity ratings. BIAs must also maintain these programs, test them frequently for accuracy and reliability and present reports to committees.

Law Enforcement Career Options for Business Intelligence Analysts

BIAs working in law enforcement, sometimes referred to as crime intelligence analysts, cross-examine data from various departments, such as forensics, gang activity units and administrative support services. Running and testing data mining programs in law enforcement allows BIAs to generate reports showing such statistics as local crimes rates, equipment spending practices and overtime hours.

Many law enforcement agencies expect BIAs to present their findings to prominent members of the community, such as those participating in local politics or commerce. For obtaining additional state and federal funding, law enforcement organizations often request that BIAs submit specific reports that highlight local crime trends and statistics.

Requirements for Working as a Business Intelligence Analyst

Most employers require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree in fields like computer science or business management with a focus in technology. BIAs should also have good communication skills and be able to understand the needs of the institutions and industries for which they work.

Some employers also require BIAs to have additional certification in computer languages and programs. These certifications are industry-created and generally involve passing an exam. In some cases, multiple technology certifications and experience as an intelligence analyst can make up for lack of a bachelor's degree.

Law Enforcement Requirements

Most agencies prefer that BIA applicants possess at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or criminal justice. Since most reports deal with heavy statistical information, law enforcement agencies expect that BIAs excel in mathematics. Most police departments also require strong communication skills for dealing with fellow employees and the public.

Law enforcement agencies use software programs unique to their industry and generally prefer BIAs to have 2-4 years of previous experience. All BIAs working in law enforcement must submit to a background check prior to employment.

The duties of business intelligence analysis professional vary depending on the industry they're working in. For the education system, they're expected to produce summary reports on student enrollment and staff activity, while in law enforcement, they're most helpful in analyzing crime data and generating statistical reports. According to BLS statistics, job growth for computer systems analysts is expected to be at a faster than average rate of 21% for the 2014-2024 decade.

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