Business analysts play an important role in any company. They take stock of an organization’s policies, financial strategies and sets of data to offer suggestions to help a business meet its goals. The profession is relatively new, so a business analyst job description does vary based on each organization and its needs. The purpose of this guide is to go into detail regarding the main duties, educational requirements, essential skills, working hours and job prospects of a business analyst.

Accountant circling numbers on a spreadsheet.

What Does A Business Analyst Do?

Business analysts can work for corporations of any size or financial means. They can be employed full-time or on a contract basis, and usually work in office environments during regular weekday business hours. The median salary for this occupation is $58,923 annually as of 2016.

They have to have working knowledge of every element of a business, from management to finances to customer service, and be able to offer advice for how to make a business run more smoothly. They also plan and implement changes to company policy and operations. Requirements typically include a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience.

Business Analyst Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

Some responsibilities it might be helpful to put on a resume include:

  • Craft and implement new managerial or financial plans at your client’s business.
  •  Analyze, report and explain complex sets of data and numbers in a comprehensive but easy-to-understand way.
  • Take stock of a business’s current state and offer personalized recommendations for how to make improvements.
  • Identify what a business needs based on its requests and your own observations.
  • Work with business owners and management to reduce cost and increase efficiency of day-to-day business operations.
  • Utilize data and information from a variety of sources to come to accurate conclusions.

Business Analyst Essential Skills

Critical thinking skills. A business analyst job description calls for the ability to take data, information, and numbers, connect the dots, come to conclusions and apply that knowledge to fix problems.

Interpersonal skills. Business analysts have to report their findings to business owners and management in a palatable way. They also have to be able to maintain strict confidentiality if that is called for. They also must be strong negotiators and moderators.

Verbal and written communication skills. Business analysts must be able to clearly communicate their findings, information, and advice both verbally and in writing.

Business knowledge and acumen. Without a wide breadth of business knowledge, a business analyst is not going to be able to offer good advice and is not likely to be successful.

How To Become A Business Analyst

Business analysts typically hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum, though some positions may require a master’s degree or PhD. As there are little to no programs specializing in business analysis, students get degrees in related subjects. If a specific specialization is desired, the student should choose a degree relevant to that specialization.

Business analysts can also be professionally certified through the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), which offers different levels of certification, although certification is not necessary to work. Business analyst certificate programs can also be taken in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

Education & Training Requirements

To become a business analyst, an individual typically must hold a bachelor’s degree at the minimum. This is sufficient to obtain many entry-level jobs in the field. Most schools do not offer specific programs in business analysis, but several disciplines properly equip students with essential skills, including business, finance, marketing, English, and mathematics.

A master’s degree, particularly in business or business management, can improve job prospects in this field. If a specialization is coveted, such as financial, operational, managerial or market research analytics, a master’s degree or PhD focusing on that specialty might be necessary or desired.

While certification to work in this field is not required, it can open additional opportunities for business analysts. Certification is administered through the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), which offers four different levels of certification based on years of experience.

Though a bachelor’s degree is still required, some schools now offer business analyst certificate programs that cover the specific skills and knowledge necessary to be a business analyst. This extra education and specialization in this field can give applicants an edge when applying to jobs. The IIBA even offers their own accreditation to these programs, so it is best for students to choose an officially accredited program.

Work Experience

Typically, it is very difficult to get work in this field without demonstrated experience. Having run your own business successfully, for example, would be a good way to demonstrate experience to employers. Another possibility is to have worked in an internship while pursuing a degree.

This can provide students with hands-on experience, valuable networking opportunities or even a position if the company wishes to hire them after graduation. Obtaining an entry-level job and working up the ladder is another way to get work experience. It is also possible to cross over from a management position, especially if you were able to display the qualities and results of a skilled business analyst.

Work Schedules

Business analysts work normal office hours during weekdays. Almost all work full-time. They typically work in office environments, though field research on business operations might be occasionally required. They need to see a business operating as usual in order to get a grasp of the company’s current situation.

Therefore, business analysts work when the business is open, so if the business is open on weekends or after hours, the business analyst would work then, too. Working overtime or being on call to answer questions during off hours, however, is not unheard of in a business analyst job description, though it is uncommon and not considered a prerequisite for working in this field.

Career Prospects

Overall, the business analyst occupation is not super competitive, although certain specializations might be. As the field is expected to grow and continues to offer a solid income, it is a sound choice that offers different niches to fit different analysts’ strengths. The basic salary for a general business analyst is around $58,923 per year, with the highest earners making over $84,000 per year.

This is a good occupation for individuals with an analytical mind, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and a knack for working with numbers. By gaining more experience, business analysts are able to take on more responsibilities and obtain greater prestige. Business analysts can become valued members of an executive business team and be very influential in determining which directions a business takes.


Business analysts are in high demand and will continue to be due to businesses wanting to engage in more efficient practices and reduce operating costs. A business analyst job description includes breaking down, analyzing and explaining a wide range of business operations and how to improve them. The career is expected to grow and offers a solid salary.