Should I Become a Business Analyst?
Business analysts, also know as management or business consultants, advise organizations on how to improve efficiency, finances, and various other aspects of business. They consult with management to plan and implement solutions or changes based on the needs of a company.
Few business analysts work for a single company; the majority are hired on a contract basis in order to evaluate an organization and submit their recommendations. Analysts may be self-employed or represent a business consulting firm. Travel is required to each client's location and although schedules are usually full-time, longer hours are often required in order to meet deadlines. This job can be high stress as meeting the demands of clients in the time-frame allowed is not always easy.
Business Analyst Education and Career Requirements
A bachelor's degree is standard, and occasionally employers prefer candidates with a master's degree. Relevant degrees include business administration, business, management, accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, and computer and information science. Voluntary certification is available. While experience requirements vary by employer, usually 3-5 years is standard. These professionals should have strong analytical, problem-solving, interpersonal, communication, time-management skills. Though computer skill requirements vary by employer, generally business analysts should have knowledge of C#, .Net, Oracle and PL/SQL and Microsoft Office. According to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analysts earned a median salary of $83,610.
How to Become a Business Analyst
Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree
Most business analyst positions require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in business administration or related degree for entry-level positions. A typical bachelor's degree program in business administration includes coursework in communication, accounting, business, law, and other specialized classes. Many schools offer various specialization options, such as accounting, management, or marketing that can help prepare future business analysts for a career in their chosen field.
Some schools and businesses offer internships or summer programs for aspiring business analysts to gain hands-on experience and understanding of the subject. This can be valuable to students as well as employers.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
Graduates can look for entry-level positions in business management, human resources, information technology, or related fields to gain the work experience necessary for a business analyst position. Once the experience is attained, candidates can look for entry-level positions as a business analyst. They'll usually work under the direction of a senior analyst or with a team of consultants until they've gained enough experience to work independently.
Some employers may prefer candidates who have obtained a graduate degree in addition to accumulating work experience. Most MBA programs are 2 years in length, although some schools offer an accelerated program that allows students to obtain their degree in 12-18 months.
Step 3: Get Certified
Some employers prefer business analysts with certification from the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). The certified management consultant (CMC) exam is available in three levels: basic, experienced and management. The basic level requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree and 3-9 years of consulting experience and five satisfactory evaluations. The experienced and management levels require more work experience. In addition to meeting requirements, applicants must pass a written and oral exam to become certified. Certification can help business analysts stand out in the field and provide proof of competence.
In summary, aspiring business analysts need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business, management, accounting, statistics, or a related field, though some employers might prefer candidates with a relevant master's degree. Several years of experience are also typically required.