Companies and organizations across all industries rely on knowledgeable business analysts to help them make informed business decisions. If you are interested in a career path that allows you to put your critical thinking and analytical skills to use, then working as a business analyst could be an ideal fit. As modern businesses continue to evolve and collect more data than ever, the need for business analysts to derive valuable insights from that data will continue to increase by 10% (more detail below).

The University of Minnesota's certificate in business analysis is a great starting point for those interested in a business analyst career. This fully online program can be completed in as little as three months and provides the foundation you need to identify key business metrics, confidently analyze financial data, and develop actionable insights to drive business growth.

Still wondering whether a career in a business analyst role is right for you? With a better understanding of the key responsibilities of a business analyst, as well as the skills required and growth opportunities available, you can more confidently decide if this is the path best suited to your professional goals.

Core Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

What exactly is a business analyst, and what do these professionals do as part of their daily work? Specifically, a business analyst is a professional who helps a business, company, or organization make data-driven decisions.

The exact roles of somebody in this position can vary significantly, depending on the given industry and company by which an analyst is employed. However, some of the most common business analyst responsibilities include:

  • making sense of large amounts of data (including data visualization) using any number of data analysis techniques and business analyst tools.
  • identifying problems and issues within a business and proposing solutions.
  • communicating results and findings to others within a business.
  • forecasting potential outcomes of business decisions.
  • aligning business activities and decisions with the overall company goals and mission.
  • collaborating with developers and other team members.

Business analysts also tend to be responsible for leading and spearheading special projects within a company, especially during periods of transition or change. During these times, business analysts have a particularly important responsibility to carry out responsible change management while effectively collaborating with and coaching other team members.

Skill Set Required for Business Analysts

To execute common business analyst responsibilities, these professionals must possess several technical and soft skills as well. On the technical side of things, business analysts need to be proficient in various different tools and programs employed in data analysis (such as PowerBI or SAS). Proficiency in database software would serve business analysts well in this type of role.

Other skills business analysts should have include:

  • Mind mapping
  • SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) analysis
  • PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental) analysis
  • Wireframing to communicate vision for a product
  • Use of a customer relationship management system

In addition to hard skills, business analysts must possess some soft skills that are crucial to success on the job. For example, business analysts need strong cross-functional team collaboration skills, meaning they should be able to work independently while remaining team players. Likewise, solid problem-solving skills go a long way in this line of work, as business analysts are constantly identifying problems and brainstorming ways to solve them for the sake of the business.

Last but not least, effective communication and people skills come in handy. Whether presenting findings to higher-ups or being able to "translate" complex jargon into novice terms, verbal and written communication are a must in the business analyst field.

Industries and Sectors Hiring Business Analysts

Businesses across all industries require skilled and knowledgeable business analysts. To make sense of increasing quantities of data and use it to make sound business decisions, companies are turning to strategic business planning professionals and business analysts.

This is perhaps particularly true in industries where data collection has seen an increase in recent years. Examples of these include manufacturing and transportation. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 35 percent of business analysts or management analysts work in professional, scientific, and technical services. From there, the most common industries hiring these professionals include:

  • Government (17 percent)
  • Finance and insurance (12 percent)
  • Management of companies and enterprises (4 percent)

It is worth noting, too, that an estimated 14 percent of business analysts are self-employed, meaning they may work as independent contractors for any number of private clients.

Career Path and Growth Opportunities

So, how do you get started working as a business analyst, and what does the typical progression look like in this career? In most cases, businesses prefer hiring candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in business or a related field. From there, having additional credentials (such as a certificate in business analysis) could help you stand out from other job applicants while potentially qualifying you for more jobs in the field. 

According to the BLS, the median business/management analyst salary in 2022 was $95,290 per year, with the highest 10 percent of earners in this field making more than $167,650. Meanwhile, the demand for these professionals continues to rise, with the projected job outlook expected to grow by 10 percent between 2022 and 2032 alone. That's much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Impact of Technology on Business Analysis

There's no denying the role evolving technology plays in the business analyst profession. In many ways, innovations in technology and software are making the job of the business analyst easier in the sense that data can be more readily processed, analyzed, interpreted, and even visualized. At the same time, however, the role of the business analyst has become progressively complex with these new advancements as the ability to collect more and more data has risen. Today, business analysts are expected to work with a greater volume of data than ever before—so knowing how to use the latest software and tools to process and analyze data is a must.

Networking and Professional Development

Even with the necessary credentials and skills, aspiring business analysts also need to be committed to networking and professional development if they seek success in this career path. As is the case in numerous industries, encountering opportunities for growth and advancement in business analysis is very much about who you know. Going out of your way to build professional connections could help improve career prospects down the road.

The same applies to ongoing professional development. To stay ahead of the latest advancements and innovations in this dynamic field, business analysts need to be proactive about learning new skills and staying on top of change. With this in mind, a lifelong commitment to learning and growing is a must if you want to find success as a business analyst.

 Learn More, Today

Working as a business analyst could be a rewarding career path for those who enjoy making sense of vast sets of data while making a real difference when it comes to strategic business planning and business process optimization.

Whether you are looking to develop business analyst skills or in need of formal business analyst certificate to take your career to the next level, the University of Minnesota's Business Analysis Certificate could help you achieve your goals. With courses developed in alignment with the Guide to Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK™), we are proud to be an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) with the IIBA®.

To learn more about our online business analysis certificate, reach out to our team. If you're ready to get the ball rolling, you can also enroll today.