If you are a problem solver with an analytical eye and a desire to lay the groundwork for a company’s success, then you may have the talents to become a business analyst. In a nutshell, this profession exists to help businesses improve in an area where they are lacking, which could be anything from their customer service to their financial success.
You have likely heard the term business analyst in the past, but if you are interested in learning if this is a great career for you, then you have come to the right place. We will discuss the job functions of a business analyst, along with the skills you will need and the many career paths you can explore. Read on. This may be the dream job you have been looking for.
What does a Business Analyst do?
A business analyst must have an interest in solving problems and creating solutions that will help a business thrive. When a company discovers that they have a vulnerability or there is an area within their infrastructure that is lacking, they will call on you to investigate, gather your opinions, determine priorities, and provide at least one solution that can fix the problem or improve the process. In some cases, you may be called upon to fix a specific issue, but sometimes, a company may want you to look at all of their operations and find areas for improvement so they can compete within their industry.
Since there are many ways to investigate these issues, a good business analyst must be well-rounded and able to absorb details through several media. For instance, you may be required to read through documents and manuals to see if there is an area of improvement. You may also be required to interview the employees that do the job in question and use their answers in your report.
Every type of business under the sun has some type of challenge or goal they have to meet, so a business analyst will be needed and can work in just about every industry. To that end, you may be a specialist in one industry or several. The job is often streamlined by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to acquire data and sort the data so it can be easily understood by upper management, so there is a technology side to this job as well.
Skill and education
At a minimum, an entry-level business analyst can start their career with a Bachelor’s degree in a business-related major, such as business analytics, business administration, or information systems. Any of these degrees will provide a nice start for your career.
However, if you hope to continue to evolve your career, you will definitely want to pursue your Master of Business Administration (MBA). This degree is sought after by many large companies and organizations, and by taking these classes, you will receive comprehensive education about all aspects of business so you can hit the ground running when you get your job.
Beyond your formal education, business analysts will also need many soft skills to advance in their careers. Communication will be key as you not only need to talk to company employees during your research, but you will also need to explain your findings and potential solutions to upper management, so you cannot be introverted. Corporate decision-makers may not always understand complex jargon, so you will need to explain it in a way that they can fully understand and act upon.
This position will also require self-management skills because once you are given your assignments, you will likely be left on your own to gather the data and produce solutions. Because of this, you will also need great organization and problem-solving skills so you can sift through data quickly and accurately. A good handle on the written word is also essential for your reports and presentations.
Potential career paths
While we have discussed the general day-to-day duties of a straightforward BA, there are many analyst career paths that you can take that will utilize your education and allow you to continue to analyze and provide solutions for companies around the world. You may also decide to focus on a particular aspect of a business. For instance, you may monitor company databases as a database administrator or help streamline and improve computer hardware and software as a computer systems analyst.
If you are good with numbers, you could focus on the financial side of the business as a financial analyst, economist, or budget analyst and help a company improve its bottom line. You could also use some of that talent as a business planning analyst who forecasts how the economy and potential buyers could impact a new product line to plan how a company might succeed in the future.
Larger companies with many moving parts often require a team of analysts to implement, collect, and report data, and even with their expertise, they often need order and assistance, and if you have an interest in management, you could direct a team of this sort as a business analyst manager. In this role, you would ensure that the analysts on your team continue to improve and collect data without error. Prior management experience is essential here as you will work with analysts of numerous temperaments and approaches, so you will need to modify your management style accordingly.
As you can see, the role of a business analyst requires extensive training and understanding of complex concepts, but if you have the skills, it is also a very rewarding career with plenty of room for growth. If you are interested in this role, look for a business program at your school of choice and see what opportunities await.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies.