How to Become a Business Analyst

In managing a business, nothing is more important than consistent improvement. A business analyst’s job is to recognize problems, discover their root cause and offer solutions. Known as one of the more highly sought-after positions, a business analyst’s expertise can help an organization get back on course. Success in this position is highly rewarding — both financially and professionally.

How does one start a business analyst career? A great launching point is through the online Master’s in Business Analytics program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Pursuing a graduate degree in business analytics allows students to elevate their careers by learning a variety of technical skills, ranging from information systems to general knowledge needed to thrive within a fiercely competitive industry.

A business analyst using a whiteboard leads a meeting.

What Does a Business Analyst Do?

Assessment plays a big part in a business analyst’s day-to-day activity. They may start by speaking with stakeholders, management or other key players to inquire about current problems and their manifestations. Examination of hard data — such as profit and loss (P&L) statements, revenue figures, expenditures and acquired debt — is also part of the job description.

Business analysts take a proactive approach to solving threatening issues to an organization by providing knowledge and key insight. Insufficient cash flow can be one of various reasons a business is forced to close its doors. By evaluating P&L statements and assisting businesses with improvement of their credit, a business analyst coordinates all necessary tactics of this process, strategically resolving liquidity issues for the organization.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), additional duties of a business analyst include:

  • Conducting on-site observations and analyses of productivity or employee assignments
  • Interviewing various personnel (associates, managers, directors, chief operating officers, etc.) to gather their understanding of potential issues
  • Documenting findings for stakeholders involved in a company’s recovery
  • Recommending steps and solutions needed to overcome pain points within a business’s work processes (change management, inventory reduction, cycle time reduction, asset utilization, yield-loss management, etc.)
  • Monitoring new work processes to ensure recommendations are installed properly and offering suggested adjustments wherever appropriate
  • Planning and organizing alternative solutions if the initial strategy fails to yield measurable results

Professionals can develop a greater understanding of a business analyst’s duties by considering the University of Nevada, Reno Master of Science in Business Analytics curriculum, which includes core courses such as Business Analysis Methods, Data Transformation and SQL, Information Visualization & Communication, and Enterprise Processes & Analytics. These courses help prospective and current business analysts develop or hone key skills critical to their success in this line of work. Problem-solving, critical thinking and communication are all transferable skills that graduates can apply in other aspects of a business analyst career.

Business Analyst Degree

An entry-level business analyst role requires a bachelor’s degree at the bare minimum. However, because positions can be competitive, graduate-level qualifications, such as an online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Nevada, Reno, are highly desirable.

This 30-credit, 100% online MSBA program has been designed to provide graduates with an understanding of the importance of strategic decision-making based on hard facts and knowledge. It offers a solid foundation in emerging concepts, such as the role of artificial intelligence in defining the future of business. After completing the program, graduates often find they’ve developed the in-demand skills needed to pursue advanced and managerial roles within the field.

Business Analyst Requirements

In addition to the right educational foundation, while not required for entry-level positions, licenses and certifications are highly valued in managers and company leaders. Organizations such as the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA) and the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) confer licensure and various levels of certification.

Authentications granted by IIBA include the Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA) and Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA – CBDA). Earning IIBA certifications entails completing an exam and gaining a certain number of years of experience. For instance, IIBA’s Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) accreditation requires five years of experience in practical business analytics.

These titles provide business analysts with a higher level of authority in their field, which they can leverage to their advantage in both employment and earning power.

Business Analyst Salary

A business analyst’s potential salary can vary significantly, depending on their expertise, skill set and work experience. For example, according to the BLS, the median annual salary for business analysts was $87,660 as of May 2020, with earners in the top 10th percentile reporting annual earnings of more than $156,800.

Salary ranges vary based on a variety of factors, such as geographical region, experience level and industry, among others. The BLS further reports that as of May 2020, business analysts working for professional, scientific and technical services companies earned a median annual salary of $93,710. Those employed by government institutions reported median annual salaries of approximately $83,500.

Hone Your Expertise

As the business world grows increasingly competitive, so does the business analyst industry. With more companies drawing on their expertise to enhance growth, 907,600 business analysts worked in the U.S. in 2020, with that number projected to grow 14% between 2020 and 2030. The ability to become a successful business analyst hinges on performance. Companies recruiting for future business analysts are looking for individuals who can utilize critical thinking, creative problem-solving and a strong sense of leadership.

Let an MSBA degree from the University of Nevada, Reno be a gateway to your career as a business analyst by providing you with these qualifications. Begin your journey by contacting us today to learn more.

Recommended Reading:

Salesforce Business Analyst: Job Description and Salary

What Is Business Analytics?

University of Nevada, Reno Master of Science in Business Analytics


The Balance, “How to Become a Business Analyst”

International Institute of Business Analysts, IIBA Certifications

University of Nevada, Reno, Master’s in Business Analytics Curriculum

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts