A Guide to Business Intelligence Careers 
August 18, 2022
Business intelligence uses data and analytics technology to tackle to current business challenges. A bachelor's degree gets you started in the field; a master's can accelerate your progress.
In only a few short years, business intelligence has grown from a niche data field to a dominating force helping companies improve existing processes. While much of this growth involves the continued development and sophistication of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and SQL applications, the field also requires business intelligence professionals to harness these systems and manipulate them to produce actionable insights. In fact, ONet projects a 15 percent growth in job opportunities for business intelligence analysts between 2020 and 2030. That's more than twice the growth rate of the overall job market.
In this guide to business intelligence careers, we'll discuss:
- Business intelligence skills and credentials
- What is a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics?
A guide to business intelligence careers (2022)
Thinking about a business intelligence career but want to learn more about the discipline before diving in? We cover the fundamentals below.
Positions, job descriptions, pay
According to IT research and consultancy firm Gartner, the market for business intelligence software was set to grow to $22.8 billion by the end of 2020, up from $18.3 billion in 2017. Fortune Business Insights anticipates this figure to grow to $43 billion by 2028.
Individuals interested in pursuing a business intelligence career can choose from a wide variety of roles, many of which offer six-figure salaries. We look at a few top options below.
- _Business intelligence analysts_ spend their days generating reports that help identify patterns and trends within contemporary data. They possess advanced knowledge of data analysis and data operations (median income: $100,910).
- _Business intelligence consultants_ work with a portfolio of clients rather than in-house at a single company. They gather and analyze data before making suggestions about process improvement and ways of increasing sales and revenue (average salary: $105, 477).
- Business intelligence developers perform similar tasks as BI engineers (see below) but in addition to developing BI tools, they also maintain these interfaces. Some areas they may work in include data visualization, big data warehousing, machine learning, and other information systems (average salary: $135,503).
- _Business intelligence engineers_ develop the systems that BI analysts and BI developers use to collect and analyze data. Whether developing specialized databases, dashboards, or data warehousing systems, these professionals are capable of supplying sophisticated BI tools (average salary: $116,040).
- _Data scientists_ use their skills in analysis and programming to work with large sets of data and extrapolate valuable information. Whether forecasting or providing contemporary data on business operations, data scientists typically hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, math, or statistics. Many hold a master's degree or doctorate. (average salary: $121,172).
Paths toward upper management roles
After working in the field and gaining several years of experience, many professionals in the roles listed above decide it's time to seek out managerial roles. For some, this means updating their credentials by completing a master's degree. For others, it may mean pursuing an industry qualification such as a certificate.
Continuing education signals to employers a commitment to staying up-to-date on the latest shifts and trends within business intelligence as well as an interest in taking on leadership positions.
Business intelligence skills and credentials
Plenty of certifications help focused business intelligence professionals climb the career ladder and take on more challenging roles. ICCP offers the Certified Business Intelligence Professional qualification, while CFI offers the Certified Business Intelligence & Data Analyst credential.
BI product providers also offer certifications: Tableau offers six different certifications; IBM and SAP also offer opportunities for continuing education.
Skills and knowledge
Business intelligence roles require a specific set of skills and knowledge. GeeksforGeekslays out several skills professionals in this arena should possess; they include data preparation, data mining, statistical analysis, descriptive analysis, data visualization, business knowledge, and data reporting.
In addition to hard skills, soft skills play a big role in finding success. Indeed highlights several: communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, and organization.
While both soft and hard skills can be gained through work experiences, it's not uncommon for a BI professional to complete a master's degree. Master's in business analytics programs have proliferated in recent years, offering plenty of opportunities for both in-person and online learning.
Earning a bachelor's degree provides the credentials needed to land an entry-level BI role and start building experience. Work experience plays an important role in this field, especially given its competitive nature. After working in a starter role for one or two years, some professionals may be ready to expand their job responsibilities.
Do I need a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics?
While work experience can make it possible to move up the career ladder, many professionals look to springboard their ascent to managerial roles with a master's degree in business intelligence and analytics. Those who know they want to work in research and/or academia may even pursue a PhD in business analytics (https://www.noodle.com/articles/is-earning-a-phd-in-business-analytics-worth-it).
Most individuals find that earning an advanced degree helps them move into senior-level positions more quickly – and command higher salaries. Payscale reports that those with a bachelor's degree working in business intelligence earn average salaries of $65,000 per year, while those with a master's degree earn an average of $85,000 each year. Multiply that difference over a career and you've got a nice pile of cash.
What is a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics?
A Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics is a professional degree that teaches students advanced topics within the discipline. With a focus on data science, project management, business processes, data modeling, and data management, these programs provide both the education and qualifications required to continue down an expanding career path.
At Stevens Institute of Technology, learners enrolled in the M.S. in Business Intelligence & Analytics complete online courses in data integration for business intelligence, big data technologies, optimization and process analytics, and data analytics and machine learning. Students also participate in an applied analytics practicum. These courses provide the foundation for advanced study.
Electives provide the opportunity for degree-seekers to personalize their studies by selecting coursework that directly relates to their intended professional pathway. Electives vary from school to school; common options include studies in supply chain analytics, marketing analytics, and data analytics for accounting.
As with electives, specializations depend on particular programs. Students should carefully review their options to find a school that matches their goals. At Butler University, students can choose from specializations in either healthcare analytics or business analytics. Other options available include customer analytics, business process analytics, or computational statistics.
How long does it take to earn a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics degree?
Completing a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics typically requires two years of full-time study; part-time options also exist. Given the flexible nature of online programs designed for working professionals, schools typically work with learners to find a pace that meets their scheduling needs.
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