Whether you’re already working as a business analyst or just considering it, the future looks bright and the choices are varied.
The rapid evolution of information technology and the rise of big data have opened the door for multiple types of business analyst careers, which are growing quickly. Public and private organizations employ business analysts, and these professionals may work alone or as part of a large company that employs numerous consultants.
What do companies expect from business analysts?
Companies typically seek business analysts with experience in financial analysis, data flow analysis and project management. Some employers also want to see a background within commercial banking or treasury services with at least two years of experience gathering business requirements and documentation. Hiring managers also commonly seek technology proficiency, particularly in areas such as Excel, data mining and ERP systems.
Duties typically include:
- Assist with planning, implementation, improvement, monitoring and support of business information systems across multiple departments
- Ensure that business data and reporting needs are met
- Develop and monitor data quality metrics
- Organize and format reports for distribution
- Effectively communicate with all levels of the organization
Where do I fit in?
A career as a business analyst typically isn’t something you just fall into. It’s usually the result of planned efforts. So, how do you figure out your next step up the career ladder?
First, you need to assess your current level. Are you staff, senior or manager? Each role requires different skills. Some rely more on technical attributes and others focus on leadership skills.
When deciding where to go in your position, you need to consider where your strengths lie. Are they grounded in systems knowledge or business analyst competencies? And how do you want to grow your business analyst career – within a company or as a consultant?
There’s no one clear path for business analysts. As a result, consider the following:
- Focus on the core business analyst skills required, and solidify yourself as a solid contributor.
- Try a lateral move. Experience is often limited by expertise. Lateral moves can provide real value and shift people into new contexts while testing competencies.
- Think about what’s next. There are many senior-level business analyst roles as well as a number of interesting career options outside of business analysis.
What’s the salary outlook?
One reason demand for business analysts is so high is that more organizations want to make their big data actionable for decision making. Depending on their needs, employers are recruiting for full-time positions, engaging consultants, or using a combination of both staffing strategies.
Because these in-demand specialists can be difficult to find - and retain - many companies are prepared to offer highly skilled business analysts competitive compensation.
According to the latest Salary Guide for accounting and finance from Robert Half, business analysts, business systems analysts and business intelligence analysts at staff, senior and manager levels can all expect to see above-average increases in pay this year. As an example, the national average starting salary for senior business analysts at large companies ($250+ million in sales) is expected to range between $83,500 and $102,000 in 2016. Business analyst managers come in at the top end of the salary scale, and their base pay ranges from $103,250 to $130,000.