How to Become a
Business Intelligence Analyst
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
The ever-increasing importance of data for businesses has led to the growth of business intelligence (BI). Companies with a strong BI strategy and workforce can perform analyses that help them make data-driven business decisions quickly.
In this guide, we talk about a business intelligence analyst’s job responsibilities and the various paths you can take to become a business intelligence analyst.
What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst?
BI analysts use data to increase productivity and profits for companies. BI analysts comb through large amounts of data and produce reports that identify meaningful trends. These trends are then used to generate actionable insights, which help an organization make profitable decisions.
BI analysts are expected to have a range of skills in data processing, analysis, visualization, and more. They are also expected to be aware of the most popular technologies used to handle and process data efficiently, such as big data, distributed computing, cloud computing, and more.
More often than not, BI analysts are also tasked to interact with employees and update them on the various technological changes that occur in a company. They must be good enough at communication and leadership to explain decisions and changes effectively.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?
Since the role of a BI analyst is crucial to the functioning of a business, they need to be well educated and highly qualified in their field. Luckily, there are many viable ways to attain the education necessary to add value to a company.
Best Business Intelligence Analyst Education Tracks
One of the most common degrees among BI analysts is a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a business-related field. Below are a couple of education paths that you can follow to become a BI analyst.
Business Intelligence Analysis Degrees
Bachelor’s degrees are the best way to begin your journey to becoming a BI analyst. Most companies expect prospective employees to have a bachelor’s degree, even for entry-level jobs. A bachelor’s degree builds a foundation of data and business skills.
You should also consider a master’s degree in a relevant field to improve your skills. Although this is not mandatory, it strengthens your knowledge.
Business Intelligence Analysis Bootcamps
Bootcamps are a great way to compensate for the lack of a degree. But if you really want to impress a hiring manager, you can also couple your degree with a boot camp.
Bootcamps are available in part-time and full-time formats. Some even offer projects to help you learn by example and apply concepts in practical scenarios. In some cases, you might need preparatory classes before starting a boot camp, as they can sometimes move too fast for beginners.
Business Intelligence Analysis Courses
Online courses are an excellent medium for building skills and strengthening job applications. To increase your chances of getting hired as a BI analyst, you can consider taking up courses in data management, data visualization, data modeling, distributed computing, cloud computing, and more.
How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst A Step-by-Step Guide
Becoming a BI analyst takes patience and hard work. Below is a list of steps you can follow that will make becoming a BI analyst easier.
Earn an undergraduate degree
An essential prerequisite to becoming a BI analyst is a bachelor’s degree in a field related to business or computer science. This helps you build a foundation of business and technology knowledge.
Gain some initial work experience
Once you have an undergraduate degree, you will find it easy to secure an internship or a part-time job in the business analysis domain. These internships help introduce you to the real-world applications of data and business concepts.
Obtain a professional certification
To get a full-time job, you have to prove to the recruiters that you can add value to their company. Professional certifications are a great way to validate your skills and knowledge.
Optional: Pursue an advanced degree
Pursuing additional degrees and certifications always helps in boosting your career growth. A master’s degree is a perfect supplement to the bachelor’s degree, which you must already hold by this stage.
Key Business Intelligence Analyst Skills
The role of a BI analyst requires you to possess a range of technical and soft skills. Below is a brief list of skills you should add to your toolkit.
Data Management and Analysis
Businesses gather data from many sources. BI analysts use this data to extract insights and make recommendations about everything from performance upgrades to new product features. After collecting, processing, and analyzing available data, the BI analyst then creates reports and dashboards that can put a business on a path toward growth.
Cloud and Distributed Computing
Since data processing is involved, BI analysts need to be well versed with technologies that make it easier to process data quickly. Cloud computing is one of the most popular solutions for storing and operating data. Add distributed processing, and you have one of the most powerful methods for breaking down and completing any data processing job.
As a business intelligence analyst, you need to be well versed in the various concepts and strategies used in business. In particular, you need to get acquainted with your company’s business model. You are expected to understand both the short-term and long-term business goals of the company, and then make your data-driven recommendations accordingly.
Business Intelligence Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
According to PayScale, BI analysts receive an average salary of about $69,597. According to Indeed, the more senior BI architects earn an average annual income of $119,706. These figures show that a career in business intelligence has a lot of potential for growth.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of management analysts is projected to increase by 11 percent by 2029. This figure is much higher than the average figure for all careers. With job opportunities on the rise, this career is definitely worth investing your time and resources into.
Entry-Level Business Intelligence Analyst Job Requirements
The BI analyst role is an essential position in any business. To become an entry-level BI analyst, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a business-related field. It’s also a good idea to have at least one certification to demonstrate your skills.
What Does a Business Intelligence Analyst Do?
BI analysts handle a business’s data and create reports that can be used to make decisions. For this, they are tasked to collect, process, and visualize data from multiple sources.
Read more about the job description and responsibilities of a BI analyst below.
Analyzes Company Data
BI analysts are tasked with analyzing all of a company’s data. They are expected to create reports and dashboards demonstrating various trends in the data. These visualizations are then used by the business to make decisions.
Recommends Improvement Strategies
Apart from drawing insights from available data, a BI analyst is also expected to make predictions and recommend strategies that can help improve a business’s operations. This includes predicting a new product’s growth, analyzing why an old product failed, and implementing measures that can help new ventures succeed.
Leads Workforce Training
Another critical aspect of a BI analyst’s job is to lead employee training. Since BI analysts know the business inside out, they are in the best position to educate employees about the business’s aims and practices. They often lead seminars and workshops to prepare employees for any upcoming changes.
Business Intelligence Analyst Certifications
Certifications can help you strengthen your resume and get ahead in your career. Below are some of the top certifications that you can receive.
Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)
Meant for senior-level personnel in the IT industry, the CBIP certification validates that you are up to date with the latest BI technologies and are aware of the best practices in data management and business analytics.
CBIP requires two or more years of full-time experience in computer systems, data handling, resource planning, systems analysis, application development, and programming.
Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
The Microsoft Certified DAA certification validates that you are a subject matter expert. You can plan and create scalable data models, collect and manipulate data, and provide value to businesses using data visualization. This certification is meant for BI professionals who use Power BI to create reports and dashboards for firms, either in the cloud or on-site.
IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11
How to Prepare for Your Business Intelligence Analyst Job Interview
A BI analyst job interview focuses on exploring your expertise in the domain of business and data analytics. Since BI analysts are expected to handle large amounts of data and draw insights from them, be prepared to answer several questions on various data management and visualization tools.
Below is a list of questions that business analysts are asked in a typical interview.
Business Intelligence Analyst Job Interview Practice Questions
- Specify two important chart types in your BI analyst toolkit and explain why you find them important.
- Explain benchmarking and its importance.
- How do you tell a risk from an issue?
- What is selection bias?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?
The answer to this question depends on how far you have already come in the process. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, it would take you just four to eight weeks to complete the required training and gain the necessary skills. If you have yet to get your bachelor’s, it will take you more than four years to become a BI analyst.
If you already hold a degree in a field that is not related to business or computer science, you will be required to gain multiple certifications to validate your skills as a BI analyst. These certifications usually take up to six months to complete.
Should You Become a Business Intelligence Analyst in 2021?
Considering the growth projections through 2029 and the ample opportunities for advancement, this is one of the top professions to consider taking up in 2021. If you haven’t acquired your bachelor’s degree yet, you should work towards becoming a BI analyst.
Business Intelligence Analyst FAQ
Does business intelligence require coding?
Business intelligence analysts are not usually required to code as part of their daily tasks. However, you are still expected to know the data tools and software needed to automate and streamline tasks.
What is the difference between business intelligence and analytics?
BI refers to the data that is used to reinforce a business’s decision-making processes. Analytics refers to transforming raw data into useful information. The primary purpose of business intelligence is to support decision-making.
Is business intelligence used only to analyze past data?
No. Business intelligence is used to analyze both past and present data.
What is the future of business intelligence?
The future of business intelligence appears very bright. Technology has been evolving to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into the process of generating insights. In the near future, AI-powered chatbots may be assisting BI analysts and architects in providing a smooth experience.