What it means to be a business analyst
Oftentimes, business analysts work for firms that compete for contracts. Therefore, one of the things business analysts need to be to do is to prepare detailed proposals for clients. Work within business analyst careers can vary depending on the client or employer analysts are working with. In addition, some business analysts specialize in a specific industry, such as information, marketing, or human resources. In some cases, companies hire their own business analysts for ongoing work instead of hiring business analysts on an as-needed basis.
Once a contract or assignment has been obtained, the business analyst determines what the problem or situation they've been asked to solve is. They also may ask the company they're working with for data such as expense reports, employment patterns, or annual revenues. Once they have the information they need, analysts figure out how to solve the problems they've been presented with.
They make recommendations depending on the organization's needs and set up, including how that particular company may relate to others in its industry, the way it's organized internally, and its company "culture." In some cases, analysts may use mathematical models when appropriate, such as making sure a company has enough projects in its inventory to make timely deliveries but not so much that it creates cash shortages or other problems.
At that time, suggestions are submitted in writing and/or given by oral presentation. In some cases, business analysts may stay after these suggestions have been made to help implement the solutions.
By and large, business analysts' jobs focus on helping businesses increase efficiency and productivity within a company.
Education and training
You'll need to have a college degree and often a master's degree in business administration or some similar field. If you begin working right out of college with a bachelor's degree, you may begin at entry level. Entry-level business analyst jobs usually involve beginning in an associate capacity at a consulting firm, whereby you report to those who have more experience and education.
If you're interested in this type of work, a business administration focus is important. In addition, you can focus on an area of specialization such as information sciences or computers.
Because the economy is becoming increasingly global, to be a business analyst you must also understand much more than just US culture or your own particular culture. You'll need to have at least a basic understanding of cultures throughout the world. Even though English is considered the international language, it's also a good idea if you can communicate directly in at least one foreign language. This also helps you focus on your particular area of expertise, since you'll be able to work directly with clients if you speak their language, even if they don't speak English.
Getting a job as a business analyst
If you'd like to become a business analyst, you can get a bachelor's degree in something like business administration or a Masters in business administration, and then begin to work with consulting firm. It's also a good idea if you have a designation as a certified management consultant. This is obtained by taking an exam and undergoing an interview established by the Institute of Management Consultants USA on its Code of Ethics.
Looking for job opportunities as a business analyst
Oftentimes, a business analyst's work is done in consultant fashion. That is, those with experience as business analysts consult on a freelance basis and have their own businesses. It's also often true that business analysts also work for specific companies who hire them just for that purpose; for example, a large multinational corporation with significant changes ongoing may need to have a full-time business analyst or several on staff to keep abreast of the changes going on and keep things running as efficiently as possible. In other cases, business analysts begin to work for large consulting firms whereby they start out in associate positions and then work their way up into more senior business analyst capacities.
Therefore, your focus on job opportunities is going to be dependent on what you want to do as a business analyst. Are you just starting out? Do you have some experience but want to remain working for a consulting firm instead of on your own? Or are you ready to break out on your own?
Your school will likely have placement services to help you find a job if you're just out of school. The Internet is also a great place to look for business analyst careers; major job sites will have jobs for business analyst available in your area.
If you're already in a job and are looking for another opportunity, or have recently been laid off, networking with colleagues is a good idea to find other work. And of course, if you're ready to go out on your own, it's likely that you have established a network of clientele to begin to work with. If you haven't done this, you should make sure you have these things established before you break on your own. It's also a good idea to keep a list of previous clients work for, as they may be able to help you find new clients.
Job outlook and salary
The outlook for business analysts remains quite good despite a soft economy. Salary depends on the capacity in which analysts are working, but in general can range from about $52,000 for starting associates, to about $90,000 for independent consultants, to a good $200,000 for those in senior business analyst jobs in consulting firms.
If you want to find the best business analyst careers, you must have the proper training, education and background. Of course, if you're just starting out, you're likely going to start as a research associate or some similar position with consulting firm. As you gain more expertise, you may choose to move up into a senior-level position within a consulting firm, or choose to go out your own. Regardless of the path you choose, this is a very lucrative, challenging and rewarding career, suitable for those who have the organization, sense of responsibility, and expertise to do so.