How to Get Started as a
Business Intelligence Developer

Refine Your Skills and Remain Relevant

A business intelligence (BI) developer is one of the most sought-after roles today. The rising demand is associated with the increasing importance for businesses to make data-driven decisions. To get this job, therefore, you’ll need to have an understanding of software development and data analysis.

If you want to learn how to become a business intelligence developer, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll walk you through what you’ll need to break into business intelligence development. Read below to learn more about this lucrative job.

What Is a Business Intelligence Developer?

A business intelligence developer is someone who builds intelligence solutions that seek to enhance decision-making processes in businesses. These include interactive dashboards, data modeling apps, data visualization tools, and query systems.

These are then used by analysts to examine huge volumes of data and derive insights to inform top management. Aside from building tools, BI developers are also in charge of maintaining BI systems and interfaces.

How Does Business Intelligence Development Relate to Data Science?

Because it’s a data-driven field, business intelligence development incorporates a lot of data science methods. This is why a lot of job advertisements require candidates to have experience in either business intelligence development or data science.

Just like data scientists, business intelligence developers need to demonstrate skills in warehouse design and data modeling. For this relation, business intelligence developers are well-equipped to pursue a data science career if they choose to.

Business intelligence developers also need extensive software development skills to create programs from scratch. Different programming tools like JavaScript, SQL, Python, and MySQL may come in handy.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Business Intelligence Developer?

Becoming a business intelligence developer might take you anywhere between one to six years. The length of time will depend on the learning path that you take.

For instance, you may pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree at a university or a two-year associate degree at a community college. You may also choose to attend a business intelligence or data science boot camp. In this case, your training would last only a few weeks or months.

Where to Study Business Intelligence Development

As stated above, there are several types of institutions where you can study business intelligence development. The most popular one attended by aspiring BI developers is college or university. This is preferred by most employers. Another one that’s gaining traction is boot camps. Below is a more in-depth discussion of these education tracks.

Business Intelligence Development Community Colleges

Going to a community college to become a business intelligence developer is not the most popular choice. However, you can start your journey towards a career by attending one.

Some community colleges offer associate degree programs in computer science, data science, and software engineering. These last two years and cost around $5,000 to $15,000 per year.

An associate degree can generally help you land broader roles in tech in a short amount of time. You can then gain experience in the field and look towards more specialized roles like business intelligence development. In most cases, you can also transfer your credits to a bachelor’s degree.

Business Intelligence Development Universities

One of the most common learning destinations for business intelligence developers is university. They can obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science, Computer Science, Software Development, or related fields. Any degree program that helps build their data analysis and programming skills will suffice.

A bachelor’s degree is typically recognized by employers as a mark of credibility and mastery. This is why they often use having a degree as a factor when screening candidates. That said, bachelor’s degrees do not come cheap. You’ll need to invest at least four years and lots of money to get one.

Business Intelligence Development Coding Bootcamps

Another path that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is coding boot camps. Just like community colleges and universities, coding boot camps also offer immersive programs in software engineering. There are also data science boot camps that solely offer programs in data analysis and data science.

Business intelligence development is highly related to these two. You could attend a coding boot camp to get the core skills you need to work in the field. You can also find some coding boot camps that offer business intelligence programs. Just note that these may not be as common as software engineering and data science boot camps.

Coding boot camps are perfect for career changers for three reasons. First, the programs they offer take less than a year to complete. They are also more affordable than universities. Finally, coding boot camp programs use up-to-date curricula. So, you’ll learn skills that align with what employers are currently looking for.

Business Intelligence Developer Online Courses

An online course certificate may not be enough to start a career as a business intelligence developer. However, it will certainly give you a leg up if you want to further your education. Many online learning platforms like Udemy, Udacity, and Coursera offer online courses in business intelligence.

Online courses are a great way for you to further your knowledge and skills without leaving the comfort of your home. They also come with generally reasonable and affordable price tags. Lastly, having a series of verified certificates on your resume signals your willingness to learn, which is appreciated by employers.

How to Become a Business Intelligence Developer A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Business Intelligence Developer A Step-by-Step Guide

Business intelligence developers must have certain competencies to successfully develop and maintain intelligence tools. In the following guide, we will show you the steps you need to take to become a skilled business intelligence developer.

Get formal business intelligence education

The first step is to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to break into the field. If you want to bank on the safe side, then pursue a bachelor’s degree program in an IT-related field. A nontraditional route such as a coding boot camp also works.

Join an internship program

On-the-job training is a great way to supplement what you learned at school. Make sure to look into the career services offered by your chosen learning institution. Some universities and coding boot camps have employer partners that offer internship programs.

Get some work experience

Most companies require you to have work experience before hiring you for a business intelligence development position. Sometimes, having an internship experience is enough to get you into an entry-level role. Otherwise, try working as a freelance BI developer first and putting together a portfolio.

Work on your technical resume

It’s crucial to start working on your technical resume if you want to get hired as a BI developer. If you don’t have any experience in the field, you can work on your projects to showcase your skills.

Apply for BI developer jobs

Once you have the right experience and education, you can apply for jobs in business intelligence development. Try looking at companies in your area or on job search websites like Indeed and LinkedIn.

Entry-Level Business Intelligence Developer Job Requirements

To become an entry-level business intelligence developer, you must have proven experience with visualization tools and cloud-based data warehouse technologies. You must also be able to work with information systems, data modeling, and programming techniques. Finally, you must demonstrate flexibility in learning and using new technologies.

Although it is not necessary, employers favor entry-level BI developers with some experience as data analysts, data scientists, or software engineers.

Business Intelligence Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Aspiring business intelligence developers can expect a positive job outlook in the following years. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific information about business intelligence developers, it reports positive job growth for similar occupations.

According to the BLS, the demand for business intelligence analysts is expected to grow by 11 percent by 2029. Database administrators, meanwhile, can expect the creation of 12,800 jobs, equivalent to a 10 percent growth, in the same time frame.

Both roles are indicative of the strong demand for business intelligence professionals. Both roles also report significantly higher job growth than the national average, which according to the BLS is around four percent. High compensation meets the high demand for business intelligence developers.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average business intelligence developer salary is $101,527 per year. This may go up or down depending on experience, geography, company, and qualifications. ZipRecruiter adds that the top 10 percent of earners bring home around $149,500 per year. The bottom 10 percent, meanwhile, pocket $50,500 per year.

Sample Business Intelligence Developer Job Interview Questions

  • What are the primary responsibilities of a business intelligence developer?
  • What business intelligence tools have you used? Compare and contrast these tools in terms of their purpose, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • What reporting tools and data warehousing systems do you prefer, and why?
  • What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in BI implementation?

What Does a Business Intelligence Developer Do?

A business intelligence developer has several responsibilities, all of which relate to creating intelligent solutions that inform decision-making. A BI developer creates and maintains business intelligence tools, crafts queries for BI, and prepares reports and presentations.

Develops, Deploys, and Maintains BI Interfaces

The most important duty of a business intelligence developer is to build and maintain BI interfaces to improve decision-making processes. Among the tools that they develop are data reporting and query tools as well as interactive dashboards. To build these, they need to have experience in Python programming and navigating data visualization libraries.

Designs Data Warehouses

A BI developer may also take part in the design of a data warehouse and document its contents. A data warehouse is important for storing large volumes of data that can later be accessed and analyzed by analysts.

To design a data warehouse, you must be an expert in several things. First, you must know how to use data modeling techniques. You should also know how to utilize an OLAP cube. Finally, you’ll need to know how to develop the front end.

Creates Data Visualization Reports

Business intelligence developers must create data visualization presentations to reveal the details they may have found when performing data analysis. That’s why they must also be familiar with data reporting tools like Tableau or Excel.

A BI developer should create interactive dashboards to easily share the results with other members of the team. This way, the delivery of insights is more dynamic and effective.

Develops and Updates Technical Documentation

BI developers are in charge of the design and development of BI systems. For that reason, they are also responsible for creating documents and guides for such products. This will inform users about the platform’s features and uses, as well as how to troubleshoot any issues they might encounter.

Essential Business Intelligence Developer Skills and Certifications

Essential Business Intelligence Developer Skills and Certifications

Because business intelligence developers perform highly specialized tasks, you’ll need to develop technical skills. These skills are generally related to data science and programming.

After acquiring these skills, you can then obtain professional certifications. These help prove your qualifications and advance your career as a BI developer. The more skills and certifications you have, the more likely you are to get hired.

Business Intelligence Developer Skills

SQL Programming

Standard Query Language, or SQL, is one of the most commonly used programming languages for developing business intelligence tools. Business intelligence developers use SQL to extract relevant information from data and optimize data analysis.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a tool used in business analytics to create interactive dashboards and reports. This software is very straightforward and can be used by the majority of BI team members. BI developers must be familiar with this tool to develop efficient and interactive visualization.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Azure SQL Data Warehouse is a database management tool that’s synced to the Microsoft storing cloud. This is also another widely used tool by most BI developers since they work with tons of historical datasets.

Business Intelligence Developer Certifications

There aren’t any regulations that require you to obtain a certification to become a business intelligence development practitioner. However, getting such a credential will help improve your job prospects. That includes the opportunity to ask for a promotion and even a salary raise. Below are some business intelligence developer certifications that are worth considering.

Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)

This certification is awarded by the Transforming Data with Intelligence (TDWI) organization, a data analytics training, and research firm. The CBIP certification is a senior-level credential that validates your proficiency in various BI methods and techniques.

You must have at least a bachelor’s degree and two years of full-time experience in an IT field to sit the certification exams. You’ll need to pass a total of three exams to earn the certification.

The CBIP certification costs up to $1,800. This bundle includes two prep courses, an exam guide, three proctored exams, and the CBIP certification. Your certification expires after four years, after which you’ll need to renew every three years.

Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate

This Microsoft accredited certification is for BI professionals who use Microsoft Power BI, which is an extensive collection of BI software products and services. This certification measures your data analytics skills. Particularly, it tests your ability to prepare, clean, model, visualize, and analyze data.

To prepare for the exam, Microsoft provides two options: a free guide and a paid guide. You may choose to take the free online courses listed on the site. You may also opt for a single immersive course that’s paid and instructor-led. The exam fee is $165.

Tableau Desktop Certified Professional

The Tableau Desktop Certified Professional certification is for business intelligence professionals who have extensive experience in using Tableau Desktop. To prove that, you must already have a Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate certification before you sit the exam.

The certification exam costs $600 and expires after three years. Tableau lists a couple of live online training courses that you can take to prepare for the exam. These courses tackle the Tableau Desktop and visual analytics.

Next to Power BI, Tableau is one of the most popular business intelligence software. So a certification in Tableau will certainly increase your relevance in the business intelligence industry.

Reasons to Become a Business Intelligence Developer in 2021

There are three main reasons to become a business intelligence developer in 2021. First, it’s a relevant career. Becoming a business intelligence developer is a smart move in a world where companies strive to make informed, data-driven decisions.

Second, it equips you with a wide range of skills. To become a business intelligence developer is to become knowledgeable in data science, data analytics, and software development. This makes it easier for you to venture into other career paths should you choose to.

Lastly, jobs in business intelligence development pay well. You can even improve your earning prospects by earning as many professional certifications as you can.

There’s no shortage of perks to becoming a business intelligence developer. The main downside is that it’s a highly technical field, which means it will demand a lot of brainpower. If that’s something you can deliver, then there’s no reason not to consider a career in business intelligence development.

Business Intelligence Developer FAQ

What is the future of business intelligence?

The future of business intelligence is moving towards artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the future, it may be possible to have a chatbot that can provide live answers for BI inquiries.

Which is the best business intelligence tool?

There isn’t one single tool that orchestrates the entire BI development process. That said, some of the most popular and useful business intelligence tools include Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Oracle BI, and IBM Cognos Analytics.

How much do business intelligence developers earn per hour?

According to PayScale, the average business intelligence developer’s hourly rate is $44.78. However, this may vary depending on the company and city you are working in.

Is business intelligence development hard?

Because it’s a highly technical field, business intelligence development could be a challenging field to break into. You’ll need significant data science and programming skills to become a business intelligence developer. However, once you get used to the BI development tools like SQL or Tableau, it’ll be easier for you.

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