6 In-Demand Business Analyst Career Paths and Pitfalls to Avoid

Business analysts play an important part in helping companies be the best they can be. In this age of pandemics, political uncertainty, intense competition, and rapidly advancing technology, companies that want to stay ahead turn to business analysts. Do you want to know how to build a Business Analyst Career Path or in other words the right career path for a business analyst?

Every advantage counts, and a good business analyst could mean the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

In this article we will cover the following business analyst career roadmap topics that will help you explore the best business analyst career paths: 

  • What is a business analyst?
  • Why are business analysts important?
  • Best business analyst career paths
  • A step by step guide on pursuing a business analyst career path
  • Pitfalls of business analyst career path

If you want to ride the wave of business analyst popularity by becoming one, read on!

Let’s begin by exploring what a business analyst is, then working our way up to how to be one!

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What is a Business Analyst?

Business analysts study a company’s processes, operating procedures, and large data sets to find ways to enhance an organization’s operational efficiency while achieving better performance. Although business analysts are also known as management analysts, please don’t confuse them with data analysts.

Business analysts work with management to reduce costs, eliminate, or reduce inefficiencies, and boost the company’s competitiveness in the modern business world. They use their analytical skills to understand and apply data-focused strategies best suited to increase a company’s bottom line.

Is Business Analyst a Good Career?

To best answer that question, let’s look at what the position entails to ascertain the best business analyst career path. A business analyst:

  • Works with the company to identify improvement opportunities in business operations and processes
  • Helps with the design or modification of existing business systems and IT systems
  • Interacts with business stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) to better understand their needs and problems
  • Gathers, documents, and analyzes the company’s needs and requirements
  • Resolves business problems and designs technical solutions
  • Documents the functional and technical designs of the company’ systems
  • Collaborates with system architects and developers to make sure that the system is properly implemented
  • Creates system testing and creating system documentation and user manuals

We live, work, and play in a society where data is everywhere. Large data sets contain information essential for making reliable, data-driven business decisions. Companies that want that extra competitive advantage need someone to collect, analyze, and apply data sets in constructive ways.

That is what the business analyst does. The business analyst functions as an in-house liaison that collects, manages and distributes relevant data between departments.

We find business analysts in all kinds of industries, including businesses of all types, government agencies, and nonprofits. While any industry can benefit from business analyst expertise, management consulting firms and IT-related firms make up the largest share. Companies that specialize in accounting, finance, investment banking, and market research also offer significant opportunities for business analysts.

Summing it up, data is the currency the commercial sector uses to buy success. Business analysts work with data and the in-house departments, making intelligent, informed, data-driven decisions that will boost profits and strengthen the company. Any business that wants to succeed today should either hire a third-party business analyst as a consultant or recruit one for an in-house position.

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6 Best Business Analyst Career Paths

Before you get moving on your business analyst career path, you need to do the prep work. You need either a good business background or solid knowledge of information technology. Most entry-level business analyst positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, usually in accounting, finance, management, or IT.

These are the 6 most in-demand business analyst career paths:

  • Business Analyst Manager
  • Data Business Analyst
  • Data Analysis Scientist
  • Information Security Analyst
  • IT Business Analyst
  • Quantitative Analyst

Business Analyst Manager

These managers recruit and hire business analyst team members, oversee new hire training, define best practices, and execute organizational goals.

Data Business Analyst

These analysts work with large data sets to identify trends, develop charts, and create visual presentations to aid in business-making decisions.

Data Analysis Scientist

This career path is extremely challenging since data analyst scientists must extract meaning from collected data, interpret it, and use it to create actionable insights. You need to be familiar with machine learning and statistics to be effective in this position.

Information Security Analyst

Cybercrime is a hot topic, and cyber security professionals are in huge demand. Information security analysts protect organizations from cybercriminals by interpreting security data and monitoring IT networks and systems. If you’re interested in ethical hacking, you’ll like this position, as it usually entails finding weaknesses in systems and eliminating them.

IT Business Analyst

This role requires working on multiple projects and operating systems while simultaneously developing more substantial business process roles. This career is a good fit for people who love crunching numbers.

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Quantitative Analyst

This specialist creates, implements, and presents mathematical models supporting financial decisions that affect risk management, investments, and pricing structures.

The journey on your preferred business analyst career path will be smoother if you have the following qualities and skills:

  • Being a good listener and communicator
  • Willing to consider change
  • Being able to multitask effectively
  • Knowing how to prioritize, based on multiple stakeholders’ needs
  • Being a good negotiator who can get timely buy-ins on crucial decisions from stakeholders
  • Identifying opportunities to improves processes which could lead to efficiency and output improvements
  • Working as part of a team, including collaborating with individuals and groups outside of the team

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A Step by Step Guide on Pursuing a Business Analyst Career Path

Let’s break down the steps with bullet points.

  • Earn your degree (accounting, finance, IT, etc.)
  • Gain an entry-level job as a developer, industry expert, or quality assurance engineer. Any of these would be considered a junior business analyst position. Securing this job will most likely involve interviewing for a business analyst position, so you may want to brush up on interview questions
  • Become a subject matter expert (SME) within a few years of employment
  • Accumulate several years of hands-on work experience in the previously mentioned positions
  • Improve your skillset by pursuing certifications in business analyst-related courses
  • Move up into a more senior position, such as IT Business Analyst, Senior/Lead Business Analyst, or Product Manager. Note that most organizations looking for senior-level candidates want to see an MBA or other relevant business degrees

After ten years or so, aim for Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or an independent consultant!

What Pitfalls Could You Encounter on Your Business Analyst Career Path?

Unfortunately, the road to being the best business analyst is littered with obstacles, and some of them can trip you up and hinder your career advancement. The three most common pitfalls are:

Focusing Only on Developing Technical Skills

While technical skills are imperative for a good business analyst, they are just one component in the complete professional. You need to expand your skillset and become proficient in communication, business knowledge needs analysis and problem identification.

Not Acquiring Expertise in a Specific Business Analyst Role

Generic business analysts aren’t equipped to handle the diverse challenges of specialized projects. The best business analysts don’t settle for knowing only broad, generalist skills.

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Not Paying Enough Attention to Collaboration

Business analysis is a team effort, and the team functions best when people can train with each other or share best practices. Therefore, communication skills are mandatory. Good business analysts make it a point to set aside time and create opportunities for everyone to get together, compare notes, and learn from each other.

Knowing When to Involve Senior Management

Sometimes, the smart strategy seems to involve taking the path of least resistance. However, much like the previous pitfall point, communication is essential. If senior management isn’t brought into the analysis process, you will have less support. If you’re trying to take on more significant projects (and improve your skills in the process), you will need to convince senior management that it’s a good idea. Only then will you get the backing you need. Keep communication channels open, either directly or via mid-level management, with what’s going on.

How Would You Like to Become a Business Analyst?

If all this talk about business analysis has you intrigued about pursuing it as a career, then there’s good news for you! Simplilearn can give you the training you need to get your start on your business analyst career path.

The Business Analyst Master’s Program is designed to sharpen your expertise in the latest business analytics tools and techniques, including planning and monitoring, data analysis and statistics, visualizations, agile and scrum methodologies, and SQL databases. The course uses real-world case studies to effectively train you, ensuring that you’re market-ready.

The program trains you in over 30 in-demand skills and tools and includes over 14 real-life projects and a Capstone project. You will also earn 35 IIBA PDs/CDUs and 25 PMI PDUs and have lifetime access to class recordings and self-paced learning materials.

According to Salary, the average annual salary for business analysts is USD 76,021, with an upper range hitting USD 84,930. And Insights reports that business analysts with more than nine years of experience can earn an average of USD 96,000.

Let Simplilearn help you train for a more rewarding, more secure career in business analysis. Check it out today!

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