Business Analyst Career Path: What Degree Do You Need?
For businesses to remain agile and competitive in a constantly evolving market, they must be able to recognize trends and changes on the horizon and know how to respond to these challenges—whether through internal restructuring, new production processes, or alternate ways of connecting with consumers. With the increasing pace of technological innovation and development posing more workplace changes than ever, now may be a great time to pursue a career as a business analyst.1
What is a Business Analyst?
Sometimes called management analysts or consultants, business analysts are tasked with finding ways for a company to increase efficiency and productivity. This typically involves evaluating the corporate processes, internal structures, and technology systems through which a company operates. Sometimes an analyst may be hired in response to new challenges posed by changes in the industry, economic trends, or the availability of new technology and production systems.
Business analysts must understand the ways in which evolving business needs will impact company infrastructure and IT systems (and vice versa), and they should be prepared to recommend changes that will help the company continue to accomplish its goals and objectives. Once a business analyst has completed their assessment, they work with the stakeholders and upper management to design and implement new processes and, when necessary, changes to the company's infrastructure. Sometimes analysts are responsible for foreseeing oncoming challenges and strategizing, while at others they may be more closely involved in planning and implementing changes.
Depending on the company's size, a business analyst may deal with an entire small business or a specific department or set of processes. Some analysts may specialize in a particular industry or aspect of a business, while others can work with a wide range of different companies.
Business Analyst Skills and Responsibilities
Because they must be able to understand the complex processes by which a company operates and also envision new and alternate ways to accomplish goals and objectives, business analysts need a wide range of skills. A basic understanding of IT systems is usually required, along with strong communication and critical thinking skills. Experience or knowledge of project management can also prove useful for analysts responsible for implementing widespread changes across a company or department.
A business analyst's day-to-day responsibilities may vary depending on the area of business and/or industry they specialize in. Common responsibilities include:1,2
- Communication between multiple departments
- Testing and evaluating IT systems
- Interviewing employees about their job duties and processes
- Standardizing workflows
- Creating a business plan
- Producing data models to be used in systems planning and updates
How to Become a Business Analyst
Students looking to pursue a career as a business analyst following graduation should consider a degree in business administration or management. While related degrees such as computer or information science, accounting, or economics may also qualify one for a business analyst position, a BBA degree often covers a wider range of skills and topics, such as management, marketing, communications, and resource management.
Those with several years of experience in an industry or company may be able to move into a business analyst position by completing a certification program. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers two certification options: the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA), and the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) for those looking to move into a senior business analyst role.
Ready to learn more? Explore AIU's online degree programs in business administration.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, "Management Analysts," on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm (visited February 3, 2016).
2. Agile Modeling, "Rethinking the Role of Business Analysts," on the Internet at http://agilemodeling.com/essays/businessAnalysts.htm#TraditionalAnalystActivities (visited February 3, 2016).