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What Is A Business Analyst and How Much Do They Make?

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A business analyst works for either a consulting firm, a company, or independently consults across different businesses.  Their role is to improve the efficiency of the target company through analysis and change.  A business analyst’s role depends on their area of expertise, and so business analysts may be referred to as systems analysts, business process analyst, requirements analysts or business data analysts to name but a few. Business analysts look at organizations, or companies, and analyze them closely.  Sometimes this analysis is of the organization as a whole.  On other occasions it could be of just an individual department or an analysis of an individual project within the organization.  They then propose ways in which the organization might better organize itself: that is, become more efficient by increasing profit and/or reducing costs.

What Does A Business Analyst Do?

business-analyst-2 job requirements

Business analysts are primarily concerned with change; changing an organization, business, or company so that it can better achieve its goals.  Consequently, they might meet some resistance to proposals they make from those who are accustomed to doing things in a particular fashion.

Because organizations in the world of business are so varied, with so many different goals and departments, business analysts may, and often do, choose to work in particular areas, for example,  I.T, or finance or marketing; indeed, any area where there is a need for analysis and change.  Increasingly, due to the nature of modern business, many business analysts are choosing to focus on the I.T sides of businesses.

A business analyst’s tasks are extremely varied and depend on what kind of organization they are working with and what area they have chosen to focus on.  However, there are some things that they all will almost always do.  These are:

  1. Defining goals
  2. Analyzing all available information
  3. Presenting solutions

These three steps will almost certainly involve communicating with a wide range of people within the organization in order to gather as much information, or data, as possible in order to find effective solutions.

What Kind Of Training Does A Business Analyst Need?

business analyst ring of success

The business analysis industry is unusual in that there are very few courses available that focus purely on business analysis.  This is because the job is so diverse and because there are so many different areas an aspiring business analyst can choose to focus on.  Most employees of business analysts, however, will require that their employees hold, at the very least, a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field.  This might include business management, business administration, accounting, computer science, economics or finance.  Some employees might also require that their employees have completed a master’s degree in business administration.

In addition, those considering becoming a business analyst might choose to obtain a Certified Management Consultant certification.  This certification, while optional, is issued by the Institute of Management Consultants and may help in acquiring initial employment.  To obtain this certification you are required to take, and pass, both written and oral examinations.

What Type Of People Make Good Business Analysts?

team of business analysts

Good business analysts should, primarily, have a good academic background in business.  In addition it is important that they be self-motivated and extremely comfortable working without supervision.  They should also have good analytical skills and be comfortable presenting their ideas in both formal and non-formal settings.  They must be happy analyzing data and be able to convert this data into solid solutions to particular problems.  They must also be able to express their ideas concisely and clearly to others by choosing effective presentation methods.  Increasingly these days, they will need to have at least a basic working knowledge of information technology systems.

What’s The Working Environment Like?

team business analysts tee shirt

Generally, and especially if the task is I.T. based, systems analysts will spend much of their time in an office environment.

With more traditional tasks outside the I.T. industry, analysts will spend considerable time with management level employees at their place of work gathering information about current systems and about desired goals.  This means that analysts may need to spend a considerable amount of their time traveling, and possibly living away from their home and their family.

As much of the work may be project based, dead-lines loom, analysts may find themselves working increased hours to get a high-paced job completed for their employers or clients.

Are Job Prospects Good For Business Analysts?


Almost all large companies will employ business analysts of one kind or another.  Another large employer of business analysts are large consulting firms.

Salaries are attractive within this industry.  The median pay for business analysts in 2012 was over $78,000 dollars per year.

The positions that offer the highest salary are those working for the federal government.  These employees earn a median wage of approximately $84,000 dollars per year.  This is closely followed by employees working for one of the large management, scientific, or technical consulting firms.  State and local government offer median salaries of around 62,000 dollars per year, which is considerably lower.

There seems to be no sign that this salary will become any less attractive in the coming years as many more new jobs are expected to be created.  At present, there are approximately 700,000 jobs in the business analysis industry and an increase of 19 percent in the next 5 years will see another 133,000 jobs created.  Many of these new jobs are expected to be in smaller consulting firms which focus on niche services such as I.T.  In addition, it is thought that business analysts that focus on green issues such as reduced energy consumption or reduced pollution (and so on) will be in increased demand.

What Are The Downsides Of Being A Business Analyst?

Business analysts may be required to travel around the country a lot, spending time at various locations.  Travel and  long hours are not uncommon in this industry, especially when deadlines for projects become close (one in four analysts work over 40 hours per week,) meaning that employees are often susceptible to tiredness and stress.

Moreover, there can be considerable resistance to proposed changes. Generally, people are adverse to change and this is reflected in a business environment where employees may be familiar with doing things a certain way and are reluctant to change this way of doing things. In some cases business analysts may find their proposed solutions and changes met with resentment.  Essentially business analysts make their living by telling people, albeit presenting it in a nice way, that they are doing things wrong and that they, the business analyst, know better how to do things.  This can lead to considerable tension if not handled delicately.

All in all, if you are someone who is happy working with little or no supervision and have good inter-personal skills and a strong business background then becoming a business analyst could be a very rewarding career for you.  The financial rewards are considerable and job opportunities appear to be good, especially if you consider focusing on IT or green issues.  Be aware, however, that business analysts often work long, irregular hours, may spend much of their time away from home, and are susceptible to stress.  Someone who is more comfortable working regular hours in a stress-free environment would be advised to choose a different career.

The video below is about going inside the life of a business analyst.

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