Home » Blog » »

Business Analyst Career Path and Qualifications – A Step by Step Guide

business analyst career path

Job opportunities for business analysts are plentiful these days, but it is important for those interested in a career in business analysis to follow a proven path to success. Companies are always looking for seasoned professionals who are trained to evaluate an organization’s business practices and processes, and create definitive policies to improve upon them. And that’s what the business analyst’s role is.  

Business Analyst Responsibilities 

What is a business analyst? A business analyst works with extended project teams to find better ways to run a series of processes or workflows. Business analysis responsibilities include:  

1) Gathering and recording a company’s existing systems and requirements

2) Identifying specific areas for improvement within business operations 

3) Using technical solutions to analyze, evaluate, and solve operational challenges

4) Linking organizational processes to project objectives

5) Meeting with users, customers, and other stakeholders to surface process inner-workings

6) Collaborating with project managers, developers, and systems architects, often working on multiple projects at once

7) Managing project milestones and altering course when needed

8) Creating system and process documentation, as well as user manuals

9) Prototyping and modeling product and workflow solutions 

Why a Business Analyst Role Is Important 

A business analyst acts as conduit between back-office technical processes, line of business operations, and the executive team. They work with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, including software developers, data engineers, and other analytics professionals to evaluate and forecast potential business challenges and propose solutions that are derived from that data.  

And it is more than just crunching numbers: a business analyst career is rooted in how to leverage advanced technologies and business practices (such as AI and data science tools) to “understand” a business from the inside out. From there, the business analyst is able to create process improvement, planning and productivity analysis to improve operations. 

A couple of examples of the business analyst success stories include: 

1) Walmart learned that lowering the minimum free-shipping order from $50 to $35 impacted online sales and operational costs, as well as what the optimal cash-back rate on its credit card was to pull more visitors in to its website. 

2) The hospitality industry learned through data analysis that maximizing hotel bookings and minimizing cancellations required an algorithm that sorted through weather forecasts, major event timing, inventory, and many other factors.  

Business Analyst Career Roadmap: Qualifications Required

 A business analyst’s educational requirements typically include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but many go on to earn an MBA (with focus on business analytics), master’s in data analytics, or other advanced degrees. Additional certifications can help to enhance the business analyst resume and improve chances for professional advancement on your business analyst career path 

Common specializations for business analysts also include strategic planning, market approaches, improving workflows and process design, and optimizing system requirements. 

Top Business Analyst Career Paths 

A business analyst may undergo training to enter this popular domain right from the get-go, but more often than not, employers prefer job candidates who have experience in other fields. It may include an undergraduate degree in diverse areas such as economics, finance, marketing, or even psychology. Entry-level jobs often include developers, QA engineers, or other industry or domain experts.  

For those who desire to move up the value chain on their business analyst career path, the move is usually made after five years or so, when it is possible to move into areas like project management or IT-oriented roles such as product manager or services consultant.  After 8-10 years in various business analyst positions, it is possible to work into more senior roles such as chief technology officer (CTO), chief operating officer (COO), or office/department director as part of your business analyst career progression. 

There are a number of key jobs that can prove as a springboard to becoming a business analyst. Following are several business analyst career paths that are worth investigating. 

Data Analyst (average salary $66,284 per year)

A data analyst is responsible for collecting and organizing data sets to uncover usable information for projects and drive conclusions and decision-making. Analysts look at data using a range of statistical methodologies, create and deploy databases, keep up data systems and identify trends and patters in the data.  

Network Analyst (average salary $75,181 per year)

A network analyst manages all components of a company’s computer network and infrastructure, including installation, layout, and maintenance. The role helps to optimize IT operations, perform analysis of IT and network requirements, and configure hardware and software to fit specific business needs.  

Test Analyst (average salary $82,123 per year)

This type of analyst assesses hardware and/or software systems to be sure they are functioning properly before they go to market. This includes development, building test plans, executing testing requirement, and examining results.  

Business Consultant (average salary $75,083 per year)

Business consultants provide general professional advice in vital business functions such as finance, facilities management, and security. They are important for identifying areas that need improvement across business operations. 

Project Manager (average salary $76,846 per year)

Primary duties: PMs are responsible for overseeing the daily operations and governance of a particular operation or enterprise, managing resource planning, customer satisfaction, risk management and reporting. 

Portfolio Manager (average salary $81,959 per year)

Portfolio managers are focused on making investment decisions for clients or enterprises, managing investment allocation, creating detailed investment guidance and opportunities, and financial risk management.  

Quantitative Analyst (average salary $102,995 per year)

The quantitative analyst is involved in researching and identifying market trends to help drive business decisions. They are tasked with creating and implementing quantitative analysis models, managing portfolio risk, and tactical challenges like reducing transaction costs.  

Why Business Analyst Is a Great Career Option

 There’s no question that a choosing to pursue a business analyst career path can be financially profitable, but it can also be a highly rewarding career choice. Here are a few highlights of business analysis career benefits

Excellent Growth

After the initial 3-5 years of business analysis experience, you will enter a new stage where you have control over your advancement and growth. Business analysts can choose a specialization in a domain or technology, become a functional or an IT business analyst, mediate between business and technology, move into project management, or move into a management-oriented vertical. 

Fast-paced Career

Business analysts commonly work on multiple projects at once, which can be an exciting job prospect. They contribute to brainstorming sessions with clients or internal teams, analyze business requirements, craft functional and technical requirements, manage teams, and present analytical findings, sometimes all in one single day. 

Understand the Whole Organization

Business analysts are well-positioned to learn the ‘bigger picture’ of a business by working across a wide array of departments and processes, and seeing how they all fit together to meet common goals. They are often considered the face of the project (along with the project manager) and contribute to initial pre-sales stages all the way through bidding, client correspondences, team dynamics, change management, and procurement. 

Be an Instrument of Change

The job of a business analyst is to produce change in an organization, and this is an especially valuable endeavor in a world of rapidly shifting economic, technology, and business dynamics. Analysts are important drivers of change management and are often in charge of change control committees, responsible for change requests, viability examination, managing resistance to change, and creating workarounds – all of which prepares the business analyst for bigger challenges. 

Great Networking Opportunity

A business analyst’s role includes constantly collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders on projects, from project managers, developers and product testers to clients/customers, finance, procurement, vendors, and executive teams. And they often travel to client or other office locations. 

Grow Communication and Soft Skills 

It’s not only hard technology skills that emerge in the life of a business analyst. There is also a great opportunity to advance soft skills such critical observation, adaptability, resolution of conflict and ambiguity, string work ethics, decision making, creativity, and delegating authority. And business analysts must also be vocal about their recommended conversions, helping them articulate objectives and build stronger communication skills. 

Gain Exposure to Multiple Domains

Everyday business analyst activity encompasses multiple domains, as they juggle projects across the organization. If you want an opportunity to learn how the greater org operates, want exposure to a wide range of work scenarios, and want a less restrictive work environment and excellent job suitability, business analyst is a career worth fighting for. 

Is a Business Analyst Career in Your Future?

No matter where you are in your career, there are always opportunities to up the ante and seek out more rewarding work opportunities. Business analysts are in high demand because of the critical importance they offer to organizations and clients. 

Key to starting on a business analyst career path is skills development, which can be obtained by enrolling in this business analytics certification bootcamp. In this comprehensive bootcamp, you will learn to develop a data mindset and analytical skills to interpret and communicate data for business problems. Regardless of your job function or background, this Business Analytics Bootcamp will demystify data analysis and equip you with the required skills to apply to your workplace through a blend of self-paced videos, live sessions, masterclasses from distinguished faculty at UMN’s Carlson School of Management, and hands-on projects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

business analytics tools

Ten In-Demand Business Analytics Tools

They say that knowledge is power, and this philosophy has never been more true in the business world. If you can’t understand what’s actually going

Business Analytics Bootcamp


6 months

Learning Format

Online Bootcamp

Program Benefits