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What degree do I need to be a Business Analyst?

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Overview

A Business Analyst is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) describes the role as “a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals.”

The Business Analyst is an agent of change. The purpose being to bring about a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.

Business analysis is used to identify and articulate the need for change in how organizations work, and to facilitate that change. As business analysts, we identify and define the solutions that will maximize the value delivered by an organization to its stakeholders. These analysts work across all levels of an organization and may be involved in everything from defining strategy, to creating the enterprise architecture, to taking a leadership role by defining the goals and requirements for programs and projects or supporting continuous improvement in its technology and processes.

Skills/Knowledge/Experience

  • Undergraduate Degree or College Diploma
  • Good communications skills (oral and written)
  • Good interpersonal and consultative skills
  • Facilitation skills
  • Analytical thinking and problem solving
  • Detail oriented and committed to a high level of accuracy
  • Organizational skills
  • Knowledge of business structure
  • Business rules analysis
  • Data analysis
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Organization modeling
  • Decision analysis
  • Costs benefit analysis
  • Modeling processes using various notation
  • Knowledge of technology structures: networks, database, communications, internet

These skills and knowledge will allow the business analyst to best meet the tasks of helping the business meet its objectives and goals. He/she will understand how work is being conducted, and through analysis, determine solutions to the issues. The solution could include training, a process change, modifications to business rules, modifications to or implementation of new technology, or a combination of all four. The business requirements analyst will work with stakeholders to conduct a feasibility study and possibly a business case to justify an investment in change.

Education

Certificate Program:  There are online programs in this field, for example, the University of California, Berkeley. Their curriculum consists of 4 required courses (Business Analysis Essentials, Requirements Management and Communication, Enterprise Analysis, and Solution Assessment) for a total of 10 units (150 hours of instruction). Candidates must pay a nonrefundable certificate registration fee. There are no formal requirements, though it’s recommended that the applicant has at least four years of professional experience with business operations.

Bachelor’s Program:  Bachelor’s degree programs in finance, accounting or business administration may provide training for college students who want to become business analysts. Introductory courses vary depending on the major, but can include those in investment management, taxation or basic cost accounting. Additionally, some programs require foundational mathematics, statistics or econometrics courses that help prepare students for financial modeling.

Graduate Program:  Advanced courses such as financial strategy, investment management and mathematical modeling further help students hone their skills on cost evaluation and financial decision-making. Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students may take additional supplemental courses in strategic operations and organizational behavior in order to better understanding how to run a business more efficiently. Some organizations may prefer to hire those who have earned a Master of Science in Finance, a Master of Accounting or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Employment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes salary and job growth information on various types of business analysts (www.bls.gov). These include management analysts, financial analysts, and budget analysts. Job growth for management and financial analysts was expected to be faster than average, with projected growth rates of 19% between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS, the median annual salary was $78,600 in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree.

 

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