Professional business analysts are responsible for improving a company’s competitiveness and performance across a broad spectrum of criteria. They often specialize in a particular area, such as inventory management, technology or corporate structure – or in an industry like healthcare or information technology, among others. Business analysts may oversee teams or work independently to solve problems and address challenges. In today’s complex, global business environment, firms continually require the skills of these experts to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. Business analysts are required to possess comprehensive business knowledge and skills, which can be obtained through a bachelor’s degree in business administration program with a specialization in management.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, employment of management analysts – including business analysts – is expected to grow in coming years.
BLS reports for May 2014 showed that the median annual income for all management analysts, including business analysts, was $90,860. The middle 50% earned between $59,940 and $108,320. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $45,360, while the highest 10% brought in upwards of $148,110.
Business Analyst Job Duties
Working as independent consultants or employed by large organizations, business analysts bring highly sought-after expertise to companies of all types and sizes. Evaluating and solving business challenges is the strong suit of these professionals; to accomplish this, they collect, review and analyze information that enables them to make sound recommendations.
In their efforts to find new ways to control costs, increase efficiency or improve sales, business analysts may research other companies and industries to compare and measure performance guidelines. They typically prepare reports that summarize their findings and recommendations, and may also present their analysis to executive management in high-level meetings.
Business analysts often specialize in a particular industry, such as telecommunications or energy. Or, they may work in a specific area of business, like marketing, human resources or supply chain management. Others – especially those working for smaller firms – may serve as general practitioners. In all settings, the job of these professionals is to define a problem, collect and analyze data pertaining to it, evaluate company processes and procedures, and ultimately recommend and deploy strategies designed to solve the issue.
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Most business analysts work in corporate offices. They may be required to travel to other local, regional or international facilities, and attend off-site conferences and meetings. Business analysts typically work a standard a 40-hour week, but flexible hours and overtime may be sometimes be required.
BLS reports for May 2009 showed that the median annual income for all management analysts, including business analysts, was $75,250. The middle 50% earned between $55,820 and $101,410. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $42,550, while the highest 10% brought in upwards of $134,820. Recent bachelor’s graduates will usually start out toward the lower end of the range. The top salaries generally go to business analysts with extensive experience and advanced education.
Education and Training
Most employers require business analysts to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business administration; some prefer to hire candidates with a graduate degree or specialization. To attain the best-paying positions with high-profile companies, candidates generally require extensive industry experience or a master’s degree in business administration.
For individuals who wish to embark on a career as a business analyst, the first step can be a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management. Coursework typically includes organizational behavior and development, principles of marketing, statistics and continuous quality management.
Employers can be confident that graduates of a business administration program with a specialization in management are able to:
- Influence change in the workplace through industry-accepted organizational and behavior theories.
- Use quantitative techniques to analyze data and make decisions.
- Implement problem-solving methods in a global setting.
- Demonstrate international business skills.
- Leverage advanced skills and knowledge to succeed as a business analyst.
Many employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use tuition assistance to pay for a master’s degree.
Is a Business Analyst Career a Good Choice for You?
A business analyst position may be a great fit for self-motivated individuals with strong analytical skills. Other important qualities include excellent written and verbal communication skills plus the ability to work well with employees at all levels of an organization. A bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management can help you develop the required expertise to launch a successful business analyst career.
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