- Types of business analyst
- What do business analysts do?
- Business analyst career path
- Business analyst salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Business analyst skills
- Pros and cons of being a business analyst
- Business analyst work-life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
- More information
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Do you want a career using your analytical skills to make a real impact on a business? Are you great with numbers and love getting stuck into big datasets? Are you analytical with a keen eye for problem-solving? A career as a business analyst could be perfect for you.
Business processes analyst
When working as a business processes analyst, you’re responsible for communicating with senior management to build business models and reimagine the current process an organisation follows. Your analysis directly impacts the way the business works to achieve its goals.
Business systems analyst
Unlike other business analyst roles, a business systems analyst is more technologically-focused. As a business systems analyst, you review, develop and restructure the software systems the organisation uses.
Business intelligence analyst
Your job as a business intelligence analyst is to analyse the data that an organisation has and come up with solutions for problems the organisation is facing.
Ready to start your career as a business analyst? Explore available graduate jobs, schemes and more in management and operations and take the first step towards a career you'll love.
Your particular role as a business analyst depends on the specialism you choose. However, here are some general tasks that you might expect to do regardless of the type of business analyst you choose to be:
- Reviewing and analysing existing business structures
- Identifying patterns and anomalies and forming conclusions from data
- Using your analysis to make recommendations for changes to the business
- Keeping up to date with advancements in the industry to implement in your workplace
- Presenting your analysis, findings and recommendations to members of the team, including senior management
- Reviewing projects and making sure they’re on track
As a business analyst, you may have a very clear pathway to the senior roles of your future. However, since you can develop many of the skills you need to be a great business analyst in other careers, you could join the business analyst career path at any point with relevant experience. Here is the typical career path for business analysts:
You begin your career as a junior business analyst. In this role, you’re learning about how to effectively work as a business analyst from more senior members of your team. This means your role may focus on supporting a bigger project that your team is working on.
Once you demonstrate the necessary skills for the role, you may get small projects to run by yourself. You could do this by developing your analytical skills, exploring new areas of the field and presenting how you can implement them in the business or showing a great aptitude for getting stuck into a project.
Once you are familiar with the role and have a good understanding of the requirements, you progress to a business analyst position. In this position, you either work collaboratively on big projects or run your own analysis.
Since your experience is very useful to the organisation, you might take on some responsibility in training junior members of the team who join the department. Additionally, you might support them through their projects or have them support you in a project you’re working on.
Once you have enough experience and have demonstrated your ability, you progress to senior business analyst. This is a further step up, giving you the biggest projects to work on with the most impact on the organisation. You might report directly to senior management and present your findings and recommendations to them more frequently.
As a senior business analyst, you might take on some responsibility for managing junior team members. This involves making sure they understand their tasks, assigning them projects and reviewing their career progression and goals.
At the most senior level, you could become a business analysis director. In this role, you take a step back from doing the analysis yourself and instead focus on developing and supporting your team. This means making sure the projects your team is working on align with the wider business goals, looking into feedback your team gives you and restructuring the way the team works based on this and being a connecting point between the team and senior management. Beyond this, you could explore executive positions in senior management, for example, chief operations officer.
If you decide you prefer the analytical side of your job to the management aspect, you could work as a consultant business analyst. As a consultant, you work on one-off projects for a company, providing your experience and knowledge to them temporarily until a project is completed. Then, you move on to the next organisation. This gives you more freedom to work on the projects that interest you, plus can be very lucrative if you’re great at your job.
Your salary as a business analyst depends on the type of organisation you work for, the type of work you do and your job level. Here are the salaries you may expect when working in business analytics:
- Your starting salary as a junior business analyst in an entry-level position is between £25,000 and £30,000 per year
- As a mid-level business analyst, your salary is between £35,000 and £40,000 per year.
- In a senior business analyst role, your salary is between £55,000 and £60,000 per year
- Business analyst directors earn £60,000 and more
To start your career in business analysis, you need a combination of skills and technical knowledge. Here’s what you need to start your career:
You typically need an undergraduate degree to be a business analyst. Since you wouldn’t usually find a degree specifically in business analytics, degrees in a business-related subject are ideal. Additionally, finance degrees give you a great step up through the analytical and mathematical skills you acquire. Equally, any subject that heavily relies on analytics like economics or data science could be a great entry into the job.
If you’d like to specialise in a particular area of business analytics, for example, business systems analytics, having a degree in computer science or a more technological field helps you understand the systems you analyse.
Having a master’s degree could also help you become a business analyst by giving you a more in-depth understanding of business and more transferable skills that you can put to good use. However, a master's degree is not usually a requirement for the role.
In order to secure a role as a business analyst, many employers want you to have some previous work experience. This is so you can demonstrate you have the required skills and understanding to do the role.
One way for you to learn more about the role and demonstrate your understanding is through work experience where you shadow an existing employee and learn about their job. You can find unadvertised work experience or insights days by networking at events or on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Check out our Bright advice for networking to learn how to do this effectively.
Another great way to get relevant experience is through completing an internship. In an internship, you’re given the chance to help with projects, learn about the job and get a flavour of the working environment. If you’re looking for work experience, browse available management and operations internships.
Some employers offer apprenticeship opportunities for business analysts. Sometimes this involves completing a degree while you get practical experience working for the employer, or gaining professional qualifications as you work.
If you’re interested in apprenticeships, try using the Government apprenticeship search tool to see what’s available to you.
Having some professional qualifications can boost your career as a business analyst. While you don’t necessarily need any to enter the career path at a junior level, they can demonstrate your experience and knowledge when applying to more senior positions. Qualifications include the Certified Business Analyst Professional and the Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis. Remember, only complete the certifications if you know how it benefits your career as they can be expensive.
You can also consider joining professional associations like the International Institute of Business Analysts to build connections, grow your skill set and learn from others.
As a business analyst, you need to be keenly aware of the business functions happening in the company, external influences and how you can make the systems in the company as effective as possible. As such, you need a combination of hard and soft skills to work well in the industry.
- Coding and statistical languages. Since you use big databases as a business analyst, you often use software to help translate it into a more analysable structure. Therefore, you should understand how to code with coding languages like Python to make the most out of the software. Additionally, knowing a statistical coding language like R can be very helpful too.
- Statistical software. You should be familiar with several pieces of statistical software to help with your analysis including SPSS, Mathematica and others.
Did you know you can learn to code with Bright Network Academy, your free e-learning space? If you're just getting started, learn all about starting to code in Python in this course.
- Analytical skills. Your role is to use data to lead decisions about how to improve business functions. As such, having great analytical skills means you can break down the data into the most important parts and effectively learn from it.
- Pattern recognition. Alongside analytical skills, if you can effectively recognise patterns in data, then you are able to use them to justify the business recommendations that you make.
- Planning. To work well as a business analyst, you need to know what you want to achieve from a project and plan it effectively to make the most of the time and data.
- Presentation and communication. Not only do you analyse the data as a business analyst, it’s also your job to use the data to make recommendations and present these back to senior management. Having great communication and presentation skills means you can get your point across in a succinct way which is easy for everyone to understand, even if they don’t have an analytical background.
- It’s a great career if you have an analytical mindset and love exploring data
- If you decide to work as a consultant, you have full control of your career plus the clients you decide to work for
- Being employed by one company rather than working as a consultant gives you job security and a stable income
- Business analysts have some great career progression opportunities with the chance to move into senior positions
- The role offers a good salary, particularly as you become more senior
- You get to make recommendations for the business and see your work enact real changes
- It can be a technical role requiring you to understand specific pieces of software in detail
- You need to be up to date with current developments in the industry which can be difficult if you’re not in education
- As you’re making recommendations to the business to change the way it works, any wrong analysis might have some big repercussions which can be stressful
- The role sometimes calls for long working days and overtime
As a business analyst, most of your time at work is office-based with some employers offering the opportunity to work from home. In the role, your working hours are typically between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, when deadlines approach, you may work overtime and sometimes over weekends to complete projects on time. Additionally, if you work as a consultant, you can be more flexible with your working time, setting a schedule that fits around your home life.
Here are some of the employers looking for the next generation of business analysts:
Want to learn more about beginning your career as a business analyst? Read a day in the life of a Graduate Business Analyst at Auto Trader to find out what it’s really like.