Are you looking for a high-paying career in the business world? Granted, many corporate careers require years of training and people have to work their way up the ladder to achieve them. But there’s one career that is accessible to almost anyone. That’s why so many people ask how to become a business analyst when thinking about starting or changing a career.
If you have a mind for business and a knack for solving problems, you should learn how to become a business analyst. Who knows, it may be the perfect career for you.
What Is a Business Analyst?
Anytime a business wants to make a change or improve on an existing system, they look to business analysts to help with the transition. For instance, a business analyst can help a corporation reduce its costs, implement a new computer system, analyze a new opportunity, establish an employee benefits program, and so much more.
But to perform these services for a corporation, business analysts need to understand the business and the industry it operates in. Analysts also communicate the plans between outside stakeholders and a corporation’s internal departments.
Once the analyst puts the changes in place, the business analyst tests it for problems and then makes adjustments if necessary.
What Do Business Analysts Do?
When researching how to become a business analyst, it’s smart to understand what they do before deciding to become one.
Let’s take a look at the role of these sought-after analysts.
Business analysts are adept at digging deep into data and analyzing it to determine how to increase an organizations efficiency. Once they find what they need from the data, they interact with multiple departments to convey their findings and talk about how to improve whatever situation they are working on. They act as a liaison between departments and often have to play peacekeeper as changes become implemented.
For example, if a business analyst is hired to update a computer system, they may have to work with the fulfillment and customer service departments to understand the role the new system will place in each department. Then the analyst will have to act as a middleman between the two departments to ensure that each one gets what they need from the new system.
Other services a business analyst may do is streamline departmental processes or cut costs of an unprofitable program. Also, they may plan how to address the needs of a changing company, pinpoint effective market approaches, standardize workflows, or set out to understand the IT requirements for a new system.
Business analysts present their finding in many ways including data models, strategic plans, business plans, and flowcharts.
The day-to-day life of a business analyst
In the process of researching and implementing new plans and systems, business analysts do many jobs. If you want to know how to become a business analyst, it pays to understand the typical jobs they do every day on the job.
Here is a general job description of a business analyst:
- Talk to various departments to understand the needs
- Communicate with stakeholders to gain an understanding of the product or service they provide
- Create and implement surveys, tests, and workshops to get a better understanding of the situation
- Come to conclusions by analyzing and modeling data
- Come up with solutions for the proposed operational changes
- Identify the risks associated with each solution and then determine if they’re worth it
- Create new systems to help implement the changes or improve existing ones
- Introduce the new systems to senior management and make recommendations about them
- Draft reports to stakeholders describing the new systems
- Present those reports to stakeholders
- Act as a support system to staff as management puts the new systems in place
- Evaluate the progress of the new systems and make adjustments as necessary
You must have some skills
When learning how to become a business analyst, you will quickly realize that you need both soft and hard skills to do the job effectively.
Here are three categories of skills you’ll need as a business analyst:
Spread the word
A business analyst has to be able to talk to groups or departments to achieve a couple of goals. For instance, they must be able to elicit information from department managers and employees to formulate their plans and strategies. They also need to communicate between department heads and stakeholders and act as a leader and negotiator. Communicating their proposals to senior leadership is another important skill.
But if you want to learn how to become a business analyst, you’ll have to communicate in various ways. For instance, you must be able to speak to people effectively but also have written communication skills.
Think about it
A good business analyst is an expert at grasping how a business operates. They understand each person’s role in the business and what they contribute to it. They also clearly see how the various departments operate separately and as a whole in the corporation.
Great business analysts go further, and not only understand the business, but the entire industry. For example, if you learned how to become a business analyst for an oil company, you would not only understand the oil company you worked for but the entire oil and gas industry.
By understanding the industry — and how the business relates to it — business analysts can use that knowledge to analyze the data and create strategic plans for growth.
Get your tech on
In today’s technical world, business analysts need some serious tech skills to implement their changes effectively. That’s because they need to use technical programs to research, create, communicate, and implement their programs.
For example, when learning how to become a business analyst, you will use programs to diagram, crunch data, wireframe, management a corporation’s requirements, and present your results to senior staff, departments, and stakeholders.
What to expect financially
If you’re learning how to become a business analyst, you’re probably wondering what kind of salary you can expect in the job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business analysts earn a median salary of $83,610 a year, or about $40.20 an hour.
Can you find a job?
Business analysts enjoy a high employment rate and an upward trend in job growth. According to the same page, there were over 800,000 employed business analysts in the US in 2016, and the Bureau expects more than 115,000 more jobs in the industry by the year 2026. That’s a 14 percent job outlook, which is faster than many other industries.
Your prospects look pretty good for this rapidly expanding industry. Are you ready to learn how to become a business analyst?
Let’s move on.
How to Become a Business Analyst
By now, you’ve determined that you have the right skills and a desire to enter this impressive profession. All that’s left to do is learn how to become a business analyst and then begin taking steps to make it happen.
Here is the five-step process to make it happen. NUMBERS
1. Be sure
Before you begin down any career path, you should know what it entails and how well you would fit into the work environment. We already looked at the special skills that will help you excel in this career. If you have them, think hard about whether a career as a business analyst is right for you.
After all, if you’re going to pursue a degree and work to become a business analyst, you should love what you’re doing.
2. Get that degree
The first step in learning how to become a business analyst is to get your business degree. A degree is the foundation of your career, and you should choose your field of study wisely. Most employers hire people for business analyst roles who have a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
During your classes, you will learn accounting, business law, communication, and other things to help you function as an analyst. Think about taking some computer programming classes to enhance your knowledge.
If when thinking about how to become a business analyst, you can choose to specialize. For instance, if you get a degree that focuses on management, accounting, or marketing, employers in those fields will likely give you preference during the hiring process.
And if your school offers a summer internship as a business analyst, be sure to sign on. Real world experience will help you when you begin interviewing for a job, and if your internship goes well, the firm may even offer you an entry-level, permanent position when you graduate.
3. Get out there and do it
When you graduate with a degree, that doesn’t mean you’ll walk right into a job as a business analyst. In fact, learning how to become a business analyst continues even after you have your degree in hand.
You will most likely find an entry-level position at a corporation. You can find jobs like these in various departments such as human resources or information technology. There, you will need to gain enough work experience to make yourself marketable as a business analyst.
Once you have enough experience, your next step is to look for an entry-level position as a business analyst.
But you still won’t work on your own.
In your new position, you will work with a senior business analyst or even a team of consultants. This process makes you ready to take on the role of a business analyst. Only after working with established analysts will you work as an analyst without supervision.
4. Go back to school
If you’re serious about becoming the best business analyst that you can, you should consider going back to school and earning your MBA. That’s because many employers like to hire business analysts who have sufficient work experience and an MBA.
It will take two years to get an MBA. But some schools offer accelerated programs that will allow you to get through the program in as little as 12 to 18 months.
5. Certify it
Just when you thought you finished all the classes you need, it’s time to talk about one more piece of the educational puzzle. When researching how to become a business analyst, you will probably come across people talking about getting a certification.
What is it exactly?
The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) is a highly-regarded certification program that employers love to see on the resumes of those who learned how to become a business analyst. It is considered the gold standard for analysts who want to work with top-notch corporations.
The IMC offers a certified management consultant (CMC) exam that comes in three levels. You will decide which level of certification is right for you by examining the requirements for each level. The certification levels are basic, experienced, and management.
Most people who learn how to become a business analyst and apply for certification start with the basic level. To apply for it, you should have a bachelor’s degree and 3 to 9 years of experience in the field. Then, you will need to present five satisfactory evaluations from executives or officers in a client firm. Once you submit the evaluations, you are required to take and pass an oral exam as well as a written exam.
By getting this certification, you will stand out in a sea of business analysts who didn’t take this extra step.
Answered: How to Become a Business Analyst
The process of learning how to become a business analyst is full of surprises, isn’t it? While it’s not as straightforward as some other professional careers, it’s easily attainable for many people. If you have the skills and desire to learn this exciting field, talk to your college about getting on track to earn the right degree. Before long, you might find yourself working in this quickly-growing industry.
Have you already learned how to become a business analyst? Are you currently working in the field? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences!