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How to Become a Business Analyst


How to Become a Business Analyst

Business analytics is a large data science field with plenty of benefits, especially for people looking to start a career in tech. This emerging field is closely related to data analytics, and utilizes many of the same tools, methods, and terminology. If you’re interested in a career in data science but don’t know where to start, read on. Here, we’ll present the essential facts about the field and how to become a business analyst.

Here are a few key pieces of information about a career in business analytics using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Glassdoor:

Business analytics, a data science field, is part of the information sciences career category. According to the BLS, the field will grow an estimated 16% between 2018 and 2028. That’s much faster than the average career growth rate of 5.2% for the same period.

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In the United States, the average salary for business analysts is $68,346 per year. Business analysts can earn $100,000 or more with experience.

Business analysts use data science skills to convert raw data into actionable advice for companies.

Average Salary
Hiring Companies

Simply put, business analysts are data analytics professionals who focus specifically on business and finance. Business analysts specialize in helping companies understand the meaning of data they collect through everything from data mining to surveys. Business analyst jobs are similar to other data science positions, with an emphasis on data visualization and business processes.

Business analysts collect, organize, and interpret data for a wide range of companies. These data analysis professionals help businesses understand trends revealed in data. This information plays a key role in developing products and services efficiently and effectively. In a world reliant on data, the importance of qualified business analysts has never been greater.

Business Analytics Job Description

The day-to-day routines of business analysts vary between different companies. However, there are a few things that the majority of business analysts have in common. Here are some of the most common job responsibilities of business analysts:

Analyzing business data with algorithms, frameworks, and other tools

Working with management to develop ideas and test theories

Working with databases and large data sets

Converting raw data into visual displays to identify and convey trends

Business analysts work closely with other professionals on things like strategy, planning, and market research. The value of a business analytics job comes down to one universal fact—data is everywhere, and hidden within trillions of data points are patterns of useful information that can increase profitability and customer satisfaction. 

Business analysts share many skill requirements with data scientists and data analysts. However, these professionals differ in a few notable areas. The primary difference between the fields is that business analysts have additional training in business, marketing, economics, finance, or a similar field. While they usually don’t spend too much time performing other tasks, it’s still essential for business analysts to fundamentally understand the field they work in. Differences aside, here are the most important business analyst skills:

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are the most important area of personal development that business analysts can choose to focus on. Analytical skills are necessary in this career.

An Understanding of Algorithms

Algorithms are software programs that reduce the menial labor of a data job. It’s vital for business analysts to understand algorithms and take advantage of the added efficiency.

Programming Languages

Programming languages such as R and Python are necessary for many data and business analytics positions, especially when tasked with managing databases.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are necessary for business analysts to convey their findings to companies. Explaining complex concepts in clear terms is essential in the business.

Business analysts are among the highest-paid professionals in the data analytics field. In the tech industry, it’s common to see salaries rise as people specialize. The same holds true for data analytics fields, as the added skills of business analysts earns them a salary boost. Here are the average business analyst salaries in several major metropolitan areas in the United States:

CityAverage SalaryEntry-Level SalaryMid-Career SalaryLate-Career Salary
Atlanta, GA$69,250$52k$70k$91k
Boston, MA$72,544$55k$73k$95k
Chicago, IL$70,867$52k$71k$93k
Cleveland, OH$62,189$47k$62k$82k
Dallas, TX$69,084$51k$70k$91k
Los Angeles, CA$72,555$54k$73k$96k
Miami, FL$64,653$49k$51k$80k
Milwaukee, WI$66,315$50k$66k$88k
Minneapolis, MN$71,051$54k$71k$93k
New York, NY$75,637$55k$76k$102k
Philadelphia, PA$66,553$50k$67k$87k
Phoenix, AZ$63,281$48k$63k$84k
Portland, OR$67,822$51k$68k$90k
San Francisco, CA$83,339$63k$83k$109k
Seattle, WA$75,579$58k$76k$99k

These professionals earn an average salary of $62,435 per year. This number doesn’t include thousands of dollars in bonuses, overtime, and other cash compensation. In some areas, business analysts have the ability to earn more than $100,000 per year. 

  • Mean Annual Salary: $62,435
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 26%
  • Number of People Employed: 109,000

Business administration requires a healthy level of analysis. Among all job titles, none serve this need better than business analysts. These professionals solve business problems, and serve the role of ‘trend finders’ within a company. 

  • Mean Annual Salary: $124,567
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 16%
  • Number of People Employed: 140,000

Data scientists use programming languages, statistical skills, and algorithms to manage and interpret large data sets.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $114,121
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 16%
  • Number of People Employed: 31,000

Machine learning engineers use algorithms, engineering principles, and programming languages to build artificial intelligence systems.

  • Mean Annual Salary: $62,435
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2018-28): 26%
  • Number of People Employed: 109,000

Data analysts use coding languages, frameworks, and data visualization tools to transform large volumes of non-descript data into useful and actionable information.

Entry Level (0-4 Years)$50,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years)$70,000
Experienced (10-20 Years)$85,000
Late-Career (20+ Years)$100,000

Business analysts are often included on project management teams. The role of a business analyst also includes helping team members identify trends that have the potential to impact the company in the biggest ways. Job responsibilities vary between companies, but most related roles include a high level of informing and advising.

The Types of Business Analysts

Data analytics jobs are abundant. Job responsibilities vary between companies. Also, data analyst jobs cover a wide range of activities. In short, there are two main types of analysts in the field: data analysts and business analysts. Here’s the difference between these two career paths:

Business Systems Analyst

Business systems analysts are yet another specialized form of data analysts. These professionals perform most business analysis tasks with a special focus on systems. This position often has additional documentation requirements, such as specialized certifications or a degree in data science.

Certified Business Analyst

Certified analysts earn special certifications from third-party institutions, in addition to whatever previous education they obtained (such as a bootcamp certificate or a bachelor’s degree). Institutions offering certification include the Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

Before becoming a business analyst, it’s important to grasp the fundamentals of data science and data analytics. Most people learn foundational skills in colleges and coding bootcamps. In some cases, business analysts teach themselves the necessary skills to land a job in the field. It takes more than a basic understanding of algorithms and analytics to be an effective business analyst; you should also learn the fundamentals of business operations and statistics to be competitive in the field. Here are the most common education pathways for business analysts:

College or University

Most business analysts trace their roots back to colleges and universities. Aspiring business analysts often major in software engineering, business administration, statistics, or a combination of these. Most business analysts have a bachelor of science degree.

Coding Bootcamp

Over the last decade, coding bootcamps have become a viable alternative to college for data science and analytics jobs. These short, intense coding education courses teach prospective tech workers the skills they need to compete in the workforce. Some bootcamps offer job guarantees, deferred tuition, and job placement assistance.


Coding Bootcamps

Bootcamps strike a balance. While they will not provide the same comprehensive education that a four year degree will, they will provide you with on the ground, practical training to get you into software engineering as quickly as possible.  Coding bootcamps cost an average of $13,600 for a full-time education. These programs run between 3 months and 1 year, but schedules vary widely. Full-time programs are available, as are part-time and online programs in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, students can attend bootcamps for other tech careers including web development, data science, cybersecurity, and more. Software engineering is an amazing career. Getting to design entire complex systems that function in unison with other systems like cogs in a giant machine is deeply appealing to many. If it’s appealing to you then don’t wait. Start learning now, and enter a field where cutting edge is the norm.  

  • Duration: 1 to 5 years
  • Cost: $0 (or minimal)
  • Average Base Salary: Unknown
  • Duration: 3 to 12 months
  • Cost: Avg. $13,600
  • Average Base Salary: $70,700
  • Duration: 4 to 6 years
  • Cost: Avg. $34,740 (4 years)
  • Average Base Salary: $65,900
  • Duration: 1.5 to 2 years (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Cost: Avg. $30,000 to $100,000 (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Average Base Salary: $114,000
  • Duration: 4 to 8 years (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Cost: Avg. $50,000+ (in addition to Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Average Base Salary: $124,000

Coding Bootcamp

Coding bootcamp is a new arrival to the world of higher education. These career training programs are designed to cover the curriculum students need for a software engineering career, without the additional classes or added expense levied by university. Bootcamps are a proven way into tech, with some programs reporting job placement rates in excess of 90%. Bootcamps generally run between three months and a year, and are available full-time, part-time, and online.


College is the traditional route into a software engineering career. Students often receive a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering (where available). These students sometimes go onto graduate school and attain higher degrees, though it’s not necessary to enter the industry. College, while once the primary route into a software engineering career, isn’t the only way to get in. These days, other programs such as coding bootcamps now offer a fairly direct path into the same jobs once held exclusively by college graduates.


Some software engineers are self-taught, learning how to code online and from books. For some people, this method works—but often requires a hefty portfolio to prove that the candidate can do what they claim to. Thankfully, freelance positions and personal projects are a good way to demonstrate abilities


Will coding bootcamp help me get a job?

Absolutely! Coding bootcamp is a proven way to train for a job in tech. Many coding bootcamps offer job guarantees, and some refund tuition if graduates can’t find a job in the field they trained for. In fact, coding bootcamp teaches skills that many college computer science graduates lack.

How much do coding bootcamps cost?

Coding bootcamp tuition varies. Coding bootcamps in New York City cost around $10,000 to $20,000. However, many scholarships and tuition deferment programs are available, so what you see doesn’t have to be what you pay.

What are income share agreements?

Income share agreements, or ISAs, are a new way to pay for education. These programs defer tuition until after students graduate and find a job in the industry. Once students are employed and making above a certain income threshold (usually $40-60,000 per year) they begin paying a fixed percent of their income, often for around 2 years. If students can’t find a job, many bootcamps waive the cost of tuition.

Do I have to learn coding to work in the tech industry?

You don’t have to learn coding to work in the tech industry. In fact, there are several non-coding bootcamps in New York City. These programs train you for a position in tech sales, marketing, or product management–all of which are well-paid positions with plenty of advancement opportunity.


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