While many organizations might include a business analyst on the company roster, the duties of those employees can vary widely. Business analysts work in most industries, including banking, finance, telecoms, utilities, government agencies, insurance and many more.
While “business analyst” is an umbrella term that covers the general aspects of the job, a wide variety of other titles might also apply. For example, an operations research analyst is a type of business analyst who focuses specifically on ensuring a company’s processes are efficient and cost-effective.
Because of the inexorable move toward digitalization of virtually every aspect of business, a business analyst has become a vital part of the team tasked with ensuring that an organization’s technological capabilities support short- and long-term objectives.
Most organizations today understand that attempting to operate without a well-trained business analyst would be a sure path to insolvency, because a company without in-depth self-examination is essentially operating blind.
What Does a Business Analyst Do?
Specific duties depend on the industry and type of company, but a business analyst generally is responsible for researching and analyzing an organization’s systems and processes. The primary role is to assess whether a company is performing as well as expected, and what steps must be taken to reach peak functionality overall or within a specific niche.
A business analyst might also help an organization’s leaders understand the company’s place within the industry. Competitor research and market research provide crucial data that allow a company to remain adaptable and agile in response to ever-changing conditions and consumer demand.
In addition to operations research analyst, here are a few alternative titles used to refer to business analysts:
- Systems analyst
- Planning analyst
- Insight & analytics manager
- Market research analyst
- Market analyst
- Management analyst
- Budget analyst
A business analyst often is positioned as a project manager. He or she might be tasked with monitoring and updating requirements across the board, from technology to personnel. In order to provide actionable data on those aspects of the business, a business analyst must:
- Develop a deep understanding of the organization’s goals
- Identify and analyze the market conditions that determine the feasibility of the organization’s goals
- Assess the organization’s ability to meet those goals
- Make informed suggestions about how to improve processes and systems
Job Growth & Salary
As more organizations begin to move toward a data-driven model of doing business, business analysts are expected to be in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analyst jobs are expected to grow 14% through 2024, and market research analyst positions are expected to increase at an even better rate – 19%.
Workers in business and financial operations occupations, which includes most business analyst jobs, earned an annual mean wage of $75,070 as of May 2016, according to the BLS. Salaries and job growth vary based on location and market conditions, so job candidates are encouraged to conduct independent research.
How to Become a Business Analyst
According to the BLS, positions such as market research analyst require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a business-related major, along with a representative amount of experience. Business analysts often earn undergraduate degrees in statistics, mathematics, computer science or general business.
For higher-level positions that report directly to an organization’s leaders and decision makers, business analysts might require an advanced degree such as an MBA or a Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics. This holds true for professionals who seek to advance to leadership roles within their organizations.
While there are no required certifications for business analysts, some seek to burnish their credentials and demonstrate their professional proficiency by earning certificates related to their fields.