Business Intelligence & Analytics

How Do I Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?

How Do I Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?
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Noodle Staff February 27, 2018

To become a business intelligence analyst, you'll need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as business administration or data science. Consider also pursuing a master's degree in data science or an MBA and appropriate certifications like the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP).

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In today’s data-centric world, organizations rely on business intelligence analysts (BI analysts) to extract valuable insights from vast data sets. These technically proficient professionals bridge the gap between raw data and actionable intelligence. They unearth otherwise inaccessible findings to help businesses thrive in competitive markets.

Companies hire or consult with business intelligence analysts to optimize their data collection. Business leaders depend on these services to inform and support their data-driven decisions. Clearly, BI analysts bring great value to the table for many organizations. Unsurprisingly, business analytics can be a lucrative profession.

So, how do you become a business intelligence analyst? This essay explores that question. It also addresses the following topics:

  • The business intelligence analyst role
  • BI analysts’ educational requirements
  • BI analyst skills
  • Relevant certifications
  • Job outlook for BI analysts

The business intelligence analyst role

Business intelligence is the process of collecting, analyzing, and transforming raw data into meaningful information to support strategic decision-making. Business intelligence analysts extract insights from data and provide actionable recommendations to stakeholders. They employ various tools and techniques to:

  • Analyze data
  • Create reports and visualizations
  • Identify trends and patterns that drive business growth

Data analytics constitutes the core of a business intelligence analyst’s role. These professionals use advanced statistical and analytical methods to make sense of complex data sets and uncover valuable insights. In so doing, they help businesses make informed decisions, optimize processes, identify opportunities, and mitigate risks. Data analytics is crucial to understand customer behavior, market trends, and competitive landscapes.

Business intelligence analysts use data from various sources, including data warehouses, to extract, clean, and transform it into usable formats. They employ techniques such as data modeling to structure and organize data. Creating dashboards, charts, and reports allows stakeholders to grasp complex information quickly.


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BI analysts’ educational requirements

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can be the first step toward a career as a business intelligence analyst. A degree in business administration provides a solid foundation in core business principles, including finance, marketing, and operations. In contrast, a degree in data science equips individuals with a comprehensive understanding of data analysis, statistics, and programming. Both are valuable and reasonable options.

Degree programs in computer science or data analytics offer specialized knowledge and skills relevant to business intelligence. These programs cover:

  • Database management
  • Data mining
  • Data visualization
  • Machine learning

Proficiency in programming languages like Python or SQL is particularly valuable for conducting data analysis and developing data models.

Business intelligence analysts must be proficient in data analytics. By mastering such techniques as exploratory data analysis, regression analysis, and predictive modeling, analysts can uncover patterns and insights within datasets. Additionally, understanding data modeling allows analysts to design efficient and scalable databases and data structures, facilitating data storage and retrieval.

Individuals seeking advanced knowledge and career advancement opportunities should consider pursuing a master’s degree. A master’s in data science equips individuals with in-depth expertise in data analytics, machine learning, and big data technologies.

Data science master’s programs explore advanced analytics techniques, including predictive modeling, natural language processing, and data mining. These programs often involve hands-on projects and real-world applications providing practical experience working with complex datasets. Also, acquiring advanced analytics skills positions business intelligence analysts as highly valuable organizational assets.

An MBA degree represents another solid option. MBA programs offer a comprehensive understanding of business operations, finance, marketing, and strategic management. Business intelligence analysts with MBAs typically gain a broad perspective that enables them to connect data-driven insights to overall business objectives and strategies.

BI analyst skills

Business intelligence analysts address complex problems that require analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. They strengthen these abilities through practice and continuous learning. Analysts can break down complex problems, identify relevant data points, and derive meaningful insights by approaching challenges with a logical and structured mindset.

Data warehouses play a crucial role in business intelligence. Familiarity with data warehouse technologies (e.g., Extract, Transform, Load, and ETL tools) enables analysts to retrieve and analyze data efficiently. In addition, understanding how to optimize data storage and access is valuable in ensuring smooth operations.

BI analysts also need the ability to effectively communicate insights through data visualization. Proficiency in tools like Tableau, Power BI, or QlikView lets analysts create interactive and visually appealing dashboards and reports. By presenting data clearly and engagingly, analysts facilitate decision-making and enhance stakeholders’ understanding of complex information.

Relevant certifications

The Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) certification validates expertise in business intelligence and demonstrates a commitment to professional growth. This certification covers business analytics, data management, and data integration.

Several other certifications can enhance the credentials of business intelligence analysts. Certifications like Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate, Tableau Desktop Specialist, or SAS Certified Data Scientist demonstrate proficiency in specific tools or platforms. Data modeling, data mining, or advanced statistical analysis certifications can further improve an analyst’s skill set.

Job outlook for BI analysts

Business intelligence analyst job descriptions vary across organizations. Typical responsibilities include data analysis, report generation, data visualization, and providing actionable insights. In addition, analysts work closely with stakeholders to understand business requirements and ensure data-driven decision-making processes. Strong communication and collaboration skills are crucial in translating complex data into meaningful information.

A BI analyst’s salary varies by experience, education, location, and industry. Individuals with advanced degrees, certifications, and significant work experience typically command higher salaries. Finance, healthcare, and technology industries tend to offer competitive compensation packages for skilled business intelligence analysts.

The job outlook for business intelligence analysts remains positive, driven by the increasing reliance on data-driven decision-making across industries. As organizations strive to harness the power of data, the demand for professionals who can analyze and interpret it continues to grow. Business intelligence analysts can expect a range of career opportunities in various sectors, including finance, consulting, healthcare, and e-commerce.

Becoming a business intelligence analyst offers a rewarding career path for individuals passionate about leveraging data to drive informed business decisions. Aspiring BI analysts can establish themselves as essential assets within organizations by acquiring the necessary education, skills, and certifications.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for business intelligence analysts is around $88,000 per year. This salary is higher than many other careers in the management analytics industry, including business analyst (about $82,000 per year) and market research analyst (about $73,000 per year).

In addition, the BLS estimates the demand for BI analysts to grow by 11 percent by the year 2031, which also is significantly higher than the national average job growth of about eight percent.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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