What is a Business Analyst?

Business analysts are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business using data analytics to assess processes, determine requirements, and deliver data-driven recommendations and reports to executives and stakeholders.

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a nonprofit professional association, considers the business analyst “an agent of change,” writing that business analysis “is a disciplined approach for introducing and managing change to organizations, whether they are for-profit businesses, governments, or non-profits.”

Here are some of the benefits:

Diversity of Roles

The business analyst helps the business meet its objectives and goals. He/she will understand how work is conducted, and through analysis, determine solutions to the issues. The solution could include training, a process change, modifications to or implementation of new technology, or a combination of these. Not all business analysts need a background in IT as long as they have a general understanding of how systems, products, and tools work. Alternatively, some business analysts have a strong IT background and less experience in business and are interested in shifting away from IT to this hybrid role.

Those with IT skills, the systems analyst,  performs business analysis tasks through specialization in understanding the business use of information technology and helping technology add value to the business. He/she understands a variety of technical architectures and platforms and their capabilities.

Also, in the IT field is the Functional Analyst who business analysis tasks through specializing in a specific technology product and its features and functions capabilities. They are not specialists in an organization’s processes or use of technology, but a specific technology independent of an organization. This analyst may consult (internal or external) on the specific workings, features, and functions of the specific software.

Degree Choices

Due to the diversity of roles and responsibilities of a business analyst, the degree varies as well. Looking at some of the job postings at prominent online employment sites, these are a sampling of the preferred degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant topics (IT or Computer Science coursework preferred)
  • Bachelors in Business, Industrial Engineering, or Industrial Organization Preferred
  • Associate’s or Bachelor Degree (preferred in Business or Sales Analytics)
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems or related fields.
  • Bachelor’s Degree and at least 2-year experience in data analysis and information reporting OR 4-year experience in data analysis and information reporting.
  • Bachelor degree in Management Information Systems, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, Business Administration or related field
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems or related fields.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems or related fields.

There are Bachelor’s degrees in Business Analytics. A Bachelor of Science in this discipline provides the education to be a business analyst, business intelligence analyst, data analyst, business analytics manager and business intelligence manager. Coursework in database structures, business analytics, IT project management, marketing, and business statistics teach you the skills required as an analyst.

Other B.S. degrees exist in Business Data Analytics. This particular program focuses on the business performance, problem-solving analytics, enterprise analytics, business law, math, and information systems.

The job postings attest to the premise that you have several degree options depending on the industry related to the position. For example, iHeartMedia claims to be the number one all-in-one digital audio service with over a billion downloads. They seek a Senior Business Analyst with these degree preferences: Bachelor’s Degree required preferably in Computer Science, Business Systems Analysis, Computer Information Systems or Technology.


Do the benefits of a career in business analytics extend to financial rewards?

Payscale reports the median salary for a business analyst/IT at $67,538 based on the submission of 10,004 salaries. Another reputable employment site, Glassdoor, reports the median salary at $77,712 based on 49,658.

Salary.com lists that a Business Analyst I with 0-2 years experience has an average income of $59,217. Their top wage earners are those with 10+ years experience who have an average income of $119,361 per year. Their mid-range is the Analyst III who earns $88,942 average per year.


Certifications are beneficial because they allow professionals to expand their knowledge and add credentials to their resume. You receive personal and professional recognition as well. More importantly, one study concluded that certification may increase your salary by an average of 16%.

The IIBA has a list of three professional certifications. They are:

  1. ECBA: Entry Certificate in Business Analysis-recognizes individuals entering the field of business analysis.
  2. CCBA: Certification of Capability in Business Analysis- recognizes professionals who have 2-3 years of business analysis experience.
  3. CBAP: Certified Business Analysis Professional-recognizes BA professionals who manage and lead with over 5 years of business analysis experience.

All images: Pixabay

Additional Resources 

What Is the Difference Between an Accounting Degree and a Business Degree?

What Is the Difference Between a Master of Business Administration Degree and a Master of Accounting Degree?

What is the difference between a Computer Science and Computer Engineering Degree?

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Computer and Information Systems Manager?

What is an MBA degree?