While exact responsibilities vary, a business analyst’s typical day generally includes identifying business needs in collaboration with others, designing and executing analysis projects to meet these needs, interpreting the results of this analysis, and communicating these findings to relevant stakeholders. Within the business analyst job family, there are a number of specializations, including:
Management consultant or management analyst: management consultants (sometimes known as management analysts) perform analytics projects for clients in order to improve efficiency or performance or to serve a specific initiative like entering a new market or introducing a new product line.
Market research analyst: market research analysts analyze markets and consumer behavior to support business and product decisions.
Business intelligence analyst: business intelligence analysts develop internal and external intelligence products like reports and dashboards.
Financial analyst: financial analysts assess investment opportunities and make recommendations based on their assessments.
What doesn’t a business analyst do?
Although often mentioned within the business analyst career family, computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and solutions architect are essentially information technology jobs. These roles primarily involve designing, implementing, maintaining, and securing information systems, rather than conducting the quantitative analysis that characterizes business analytics.
What skills are needed to work in business analytics?
Business analytics professionals need a diverse skill set that includes computer science and information technology skills, statistical analysis skills, data management skills, data visualization skills, business acumen, and certain soft skills.
Computer science and information technology skills: Excel & SQL, potentially Python or R programming language, potentially basic software development skills, potentially basic machine learning skills
Statistical analysis skills: cohort analysis, regression, optimization, factor 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
Business expertise: accounting, economics, and finance basics
Soft skills: critical thinking, communication, leadership, project management, and teamwork
At first glance, this skill set can be intimidating. In the next sections, however, we’ll dive into the degree programs that can get you up and running — and ready for your business analytics career. We’ll start with business analytics bachelor’s programs.
Business Analytics Bachelor’s Degree Programs
What are they?
Bachelor’s degrees, in the US at least, are typically four-year undergraduate degrees during which students focus on a declared major, or academic focus. These days, there are a number of universities and colleges out there with specific business analytics majors — we’ll preview a couple below — but students interested in going into business analytics also have the option to major in a related field like applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, business, economics, or finance, provided the particular curricula will give them sufficient training in computer science, applied statistics, and business fundamentals.
Who are they for?
Typically, bachelor's degrees are intended for students to pursue immediately after finishing high school, but individuals from nontraditional educational backgrounds are often also encouraged to apply. Additionally, international students may apply for bachelor's programs in the US as long as they can prove their English proficiency through an exam like TOEFL or Duolingo.
Aspiring business analysts pursue bachelor’s programs looking for broad training in the theory and practice of business analytics. They also pursue these programs because a bachelor’s from an accredited university is a strong credential that can support an entry-level job application.
How much do they cost?
It’s no lie that higher education in the US is expensive. While tuition for bachelor’s programs varies widely depending on the reputation and location of the school and whether it is a private or public college or university, these degrees are generally still priced quite high, and so must be considered investments that will hopefully see returns once the graduate moves down their career path. According to Education Data Initiative, the average undergraduate paying in-state tuition at a public university pays a total of $102,828 over four years to attend (including books, fees, and housing), while an undergraduate at a private university pays $218,004 to attend for four years.
If you’re interested in business analytics and looking into bachelor’s degree programs, get your research started by checking out some of BA-specific programs: