How to Start a Business Analyst Career Even if You Have No Experience
How to Be a Business Analyst
Being a business analyst is a great option for many people as it is generally a very stable position with solid benefits. A business analyst performs many tasks including analyzing a company looking for ways to increase effectiveness. To be an analyst you will want to consider extending your business education. Making network contacts and enhancing your IT skill set is also useful. Working with all levels of a company is another critical aspect of life as a business analyst.
Gaining the Education and Certifications
Learn about what business analysts do.Your goal is to find out as much information as possible about this career path. Reach out to current business analysts and ask them questions about their background and current work. Read and subscribe to online business forums. Visit the websites of various schools promoting programs in business analysis.
- You will find that a business analyst must be familiar with all elements of an organization. They are the ones who look for ways a company can maximize efficiency. They also communicate information to stakeholders and serve as a meeting point between different groups within a business.
- It might be helpful to pick upA Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge(BABOK Guide). This book lays out the various requirements and skills expected of a business analyst. It is also a helpful tool when studying for certifications.
Consider the job outlook.This is especially important if you are leaving a job that is currently lucrative and stable. Search online for business analyst salary numbers. You will find that they range from ,000 and upwards a year. Also, look at the job outlook statistics provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
- Based upon the 2015 BLS numbers, the job of business analyst is showing strong growth heading through 2022.
- As you conduct your online searches, you may find concerns regarding the uptick in data scientist numbers. The idea is that these jobs may replace the ones previously held by business analysts. You will want to weigh this information carefully.
Identify a mentor.As you reach out to various business professionals, try to identify one or two persons who you can trust to give you solid advice and mentorship moving forward. These should be people who have the experience necessary to help you and the willingness to do so as well. It is even possible that your current manager can serve in this capacity if they are supportive of your goals.
- As you start to craft your resume or apply to certification programs, make sure to consult with your mentor. You might ask, “Do you think this program is worthwhile? Have you worked with any of their graduates?”
Choose an education option.Some bachelor’s degrees naturally lend themselves to a career as a business analyst: accounting, information systems, or computer science, for example. You can advance your career by pursing additional certifications from the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).
- If you are without a degree but would like to commit to a shorter program, some schools also offer associate’s degree in business and related areas.
- Some businesses want an advanced degree for upper-level positions. If this is the case, you can also pursue a master’s degree in business analytics (MS-BA), information management (MSIM), or business administration (MBA).
- Note that there is no central regulatory authority deciding how much, and what type of, education business analysts need to possess. Instead, the requirements are generally determined by the hiring businesses and the market.
Study for and pass any certifications.The main certification that you should aim for is the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) offered by the IIBA. You could also pursue the more advanced Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) level. Each certification comes with its own unique requirements so it is good to investigate to determine which path suits your career aspirations.
- The CBAP, for example, requires that you log at least 7,500 hours of experience while also passing an exam. The CBAP exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions based on basic business principles and theGuide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge(BABOK Guide).
Starting Your Career
Landing a position.As soon as you are ready to enter into the marketplace, begin to research possible job openings. You’ll find that business analyst positions vary with some placing an elevated emphasis on IT knowledge. Once you’ve made it to the interview stage, make sure to learn as much about the company as you can.
- Look for information regarding possible interview questions as well. Some websites list questions that were asked in prior business analyst interviews and this is a good starting point.
Refine your skills list.Once you land a position, keep your resume handy and remember to revise it as you learn how to perform additional tasks. It is also helpful to reassess your skill set every few months or so, paying particular attention to any gaps of knowledge that you can identify.
- For example, if you are great at one-on-one communication but have yet to experience group setting communication, then you may want to angle for projects that will expose you to this type of challenge.
Plan for advancement.Always keep an eye on where you want to be in a company. After three to five years in one position, it may be time to look for additional advancement opportunities. Perhaps you can move over to a more technology-focused position. Or, maybe you want to take a closer look at advising stockholders.
- A move into data science is one that allows a business analyst to stay close to their roots while also branching out into new modes of information gathering and assessment.
Gain experience via volunteering.You’ll probably have a lot on your plate at your job, but don’t forget to branch out and offer your experience to others for free. Non-profits, in particular, can give you a wide-ranging set of assignments that will keep you stimulated while also allowing you to help.
Get involved in your local business networking groups.Business analysts are often social by nature. Embrace this aspect of your personality by participating in various social groups focusing on business practices. Join a local chapter of the IIBA. Or, look into various business analyst groups found via LinkedIn.
Performing Your Job as a Business Analyst
Complete frequent company evaluations.Part of your job as a business analyst is to gather and assess information regarding the business itself. You may be able to use your own data collections methods or you may end up relying on data provided to you by others. Either way, you need to be efficient and flexible when looking over the available information.
- For example, you might discover that job that remained unfilled was the cause of breakdown in the chain of command. You are looking for weaknesses and strengths when you assess.
Recommend changes and improvements.After you’ve looked over the data, you will want to craft a single report, or even multiple reports, describing a set of possible solutions. When you are a business analyst, you should try to dig deeply into any potential problems by asking the standard who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. The answers will help you to craft a solution that helps the many over the few.
- For example, if you find that the progress of paperwork markedly slows down in one department, you might suggest bypassing that area altogether or sending more resources their way to speed up the process.
Stay curious.You will want to ask a ton of questions. This is especially the case when you are presented with a new project or when you meet a new person. By asking questions, you get important information that you can pass along to others, thus improving the efficiency of a company. Being curious about others' views will also let them help you to identify possible problems and solutions.
- For example, you might ask an associate, “Why do you follow that protocol?” Or, you could say, “How would you describe the company’s chain of command?”
What are the qualifications needed for business analyst work?
- Be patient if you are choosing to be a business analyst as a second (or later) career. It may take a while to ‘move up the ladder’ and get your certifications in place. But, if you find a spot with a good company, it can be worthwhile.
- Be careful about which certification or training program you choose to use. Some programs offer promises regarding exam pass rates or placement options that they cannot deliver on. Carefully research all potential programs prior to enrolling.
Video: Can I become a Business Analyst ?
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