If you’re interested in how businesses work and are good at identifying problems and solutions, you could make a great business analyst. It’s a well-rewarded job that can lead you to senior roles in an organisation or into consultancy.
What do business analysts do?
Business analysts, or business improvement managers as they’re sometimes known, help businesses get better at what they do, by analysing and improving their processes.
You could be investigating one particular process from start to finish, looking for bottlenecks to remove and shortcuts to implement, or you could be examining an entire business, across many locations and functions. Business analysts work in large multinational companies and start-ups and across the public sector.
Most business analyst roles will require you to:
- Get a good understanding of the business, possibly in comparison with other organisations working in the same industry or using similar methods
- Analyse the processes and collect relevant data and information on them
- Interrogate the data to find problems that are preventing the efficient running of the business
- Look for ways to improve the process and assess their feasibility
- Prepare your recommendations, including costs, timings and likely risks and benefits
- Work with the appropriate departments and managers to implement your recommended changes and improvements
- Evaluate changes and recommend continuous or further improvements.
What skills does a business analyst need?
There are two groups of skills that employers will be looking for. Specialist skills tend to require specific training, which could be part of your business degree. Soft skills, also known as people skills, can also be learned and are vital to building personal relationships at work.
Most business analysts will need a range of specialist skills including basic IT skills (using common office and programming software), analytical skills and critical thinking. You may also need experience of network analytics, data visualisation and machine learning. Many employers will expect you to be well-versed in project management methods and will want you to have a good understanding of business finance.
You’ll also need soft skills to succeed. Your ability to get information from fellow workers and to persuade senior managers of the validity of your analysis and the benefits of your recommendations, will depend on how well you can influence others and present your ideas.
Good communications, teamworking and problem-solving skills are essential. As your role may involve decisions that affect supplier relationships or employee roles, you’ll also need strong professional ethics and sensitivity.
What does a business analyst career path look like?
Some business analysts have experience in finance or IT before moving into a process improvement role. A good business degree will give you a broad overview of how different sorts of organisations operate, as well as a grounding in finance, marketing and management.
If you’ve already obtained a business degree and want to specialise, a Master’s degree such as the MSc in Business Analytics will equip you with all the specialist and soft skills that employers are likely to seek.
Business analysts are rewarded with good salaries. As they become more experienced, some senior business analysts move into management consultancy, more specialist data analytic roles, or into executive roles leading business improvement in their organisation.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a business analyst, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.