Companies rely on business analysts to help them with a variety of problems, from identifying inefficiencies and streamlining business operations, to finding new growth opportunities, to better understanding consumers and markets, to assessing overall business performance. These businesses’ dependence on business analysts means that qualified business analytics professionals not only receive above-average compensation — around $80,000 annually compared to the 2021 US median wage of around $45,000 — but have significant growth potential as they progress along their career path. In fact, a business analyst of today might very likely be a product manager, data scientist, business architect, or, of course, senior business analyst of tomorrow.
Business analytics is a highly interdisciplinary field, and as a result someone with business analyst skills, as we’ve just suggested, can move forward on any number of paths. So what does a typical business analyst career path look like in 2023? In this article, we’ll dive into real job postings to give you an idea of what you can expect.
What does a business analyst do?
A business analyst leverages data analytics, business acumen, and industry expertise to extract insights from data sets that can support business decision-making and provide solutions to various business problems: improving operations, cutting costs, increasing revenues, making strategic moves in the market, and others.
A typical business analyst’s workload comprises performing data analysis, interpreting results, and communicating findings to various stakeholders. To ensure their work is best supporting business goals, business analysts must also meet frequently with these stakeholders to align on research strategy.
In addition to the typical business analyst job, there are a number of other specializations that fall under the business analytics umbrella:
Management consultants usually perform business analytics for clients focused on making business operations more efficient or improving business performance.
A market research analyst analyzes consumer behavior and markets to inform business and product decisions and optimize marketing spend.
A business intelligence analyst develops intelligence assets like dashboards and reports.
A financial analyst assesses investment opportunities, making recommendations based on risk tolerance, business requirements, and financial goals.
What doesn’t a business analyst do?
Roles frequently cited in articles about business analyst careers include computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and solutions architect. In actuality, however, these are information technology jobs, focused far more on designing, implementing, maintaining, and protecting information systems rather than performing the kind of quantitative analysis characteristic of business analysts.
What are the core business analytics skills?
Business analyst generally must have skill sets spanning the following:
Computer science skills: Excel & SQL, and potentially Python or R
Statistical analysis skills: optimization, regression, cohort analysis, factor analysis, time-series analysis, and cluster analysis
Data management skills: data collection (including big data mining), data processing, and data storage
Data visualization skills: dashboards and other visualizations using software like Tableau
Advanced skills: machine learning, automation
Business and industry expertise
Soft skills: communication, project management, leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking