Business data analysts use the data analysis process to understand, interpret, and predict patterns in business, and then use those data-driven insights to enhance their business practices. Essentially, business data analysts are data analysts who focus specifically on furthering key business goals.
In this article, we’ll detail the tasks and responsibilities associated with business data analysts, their average salary, and how to become a business data analyst.
A business data analyst aims to identify opportunities to grow, optimize, and improve an organization’s business processes. They’ll often be tasked with a specific area of business, such as supply chain management, customer service, or global trade practices.
Business data analysts tend to work on solving issues similar to those that a business analyst might aim to solve, and they use similar skills in their approach. There are two main differences between business data analysts and business analysts:
1. Conceptual and analytical skills: Business data analysts are more involved with identifying problems, whereas business analysts typically work with problems that have already been determined.
2. Technical skills: Business data analysts will use database tools like Excel and SQL and programming languages like R and Python to collect and analyze new data sets, whereas business analysts typically work with data sets that have been prepared for them.
This three-minute lecture from Duke University’s Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies class—the first class in the Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization—offers more information about the differences between business data analysts and business analysts.
Learn more about the differences between a data analyst and a business analyst.
A business data analyst’s responsibilities lie at the intersection of data analysis and business analysis, and so their job description tends to look like a combination of both roles.
Some tasks you might see in a business data analyst job description are:
Develop and deploy dashboards to collect data-backed insights
Interpret key business data sets
Deliver insights on potential areas of growth, optimization, and improvements
Support business intelligence strategies with quantitative analysis
Work cross-departmentally on data-driven strategies that improve business processes and decision-making
Learn more about what business intelligence analysts do.
Business data analysts use a number of tools throughout the data analysis process to aid in efficiency and accuracy. Some common tools include:
Microsoft Power BI
As of March 2022, the average salary for a business data analyst in the United States is $87,333, according to Glassdoor . Comparably offers a more optimistic average salary estimate at $161,190 , while ZipRecruiter’s estimate is a bit more conservative at $85,818 . Your salary as a business data analyst can vary depending on factors such as years of experience, location, and industry.
The demand for data analysts across sectors remains high. Between 2020 and 2030, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects operations research analyst positions to grow by 25 percent , management analyst positions by 14 percent , and mathematicians and statisticians by 33 percent —all much faster than the average growth rate of 7.7 percent.
There are many paths toward becoming a business data analyst. One path might be education: companies looking to hire a business data analyst will often want candidates to have a bachelor’s degree—ideally in business, engineering, technology, math, computer science, or a related area. For higher level roles, some companies may look for candidates with an MBA or graduate degree in a related field, like data analytics or computer science. Many companies will also consider candidates with equivalent experience, a somewhat vague determination often amounting to a few years of work experience.
Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, considering a career change, or leveling up on your current path, the first step toward recognizing your qualifications is assessing the transferable skills you have, as well as the skills you’ll need to build.
Technical skills, sometimes called “hard skills,” are the specialized knowledge and skills required to perform your daily job functions. Some technical skills business data analysts rely on are:
Database tools: Many data analysts use Microsoft Excel and SQL to collect and organize data.
Programming languages: Analysts use R and Python to clean, manipulate, and analyze data.
Data visualization: Analysts use tools like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI to translate their data into visual insights.
Business analysis: Understanding how businesses function is key to recognizing potential areas of improvement.
Workplace skills, sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” relate to the way you work and socialize with colleagues. Some workplace skills business data analysts use include:
Communication and collaboration: Analysts often work cross-departmentally to influence decision makers and key stakeholders with their data-driven suggestions.
Prioritization and organization: Analysts may face competing workflows, managing multiple projects at once, or analyzing multiple data sets simultaneously.
Curiosity: Business data analysts often find success when they are interested in the issues they explore and allow their curiosity to guide them.
Creativity: Since data isn’t always readily available, data analysts often have to get creative with the way they collect and interpret data.
Self-motivation: In addition to collaborative moments, data analysts also spend time working independently with their data sets and research.
Since both business and data analysis are key to a business data analyst’s success, it’s important to have foundational knowledge in each area as you pursue this career path. Depending on where you are in your journey, you may want to focus on building different skill sets.
Learn data analysis: Get job-ready for data analysis roles with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. Over roughly six months, you’ll get hands-on experience with data cleaning, problem solving, and data visualization using R and SQL.
Learn business analysis: To practice applying data analysis to business situations, try the Business Analytics Specialization from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. With these six courses, part of the iMBA program, you’ll use tools such as RStudio, Power BI, and Alteryx to develop data-driven business solutions.
Level up: Take your business analysis skills to the next level with Duke University’s Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization. Over five courses, you’ll learn how to analyze, visualize, and manage data using tools such as Excel, Tableau, and MySQL.
1. Glassdoor. “Business Data Analyst Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/business-data-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm.” Accessed May 17, 2022.
2. Comparably. “Staff Business Data Analyst Salary, https://www.comparably.com/salaries/salaries-for-staff-business-data-analyst.” Accessed May 17, 2022.
3. ZipRecruiter. “Business Data Analyst Salary, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Business-DATA-Analyst-Salary. Accessed May 17, 2022.
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Operations Research Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm.” Accessed May 17, 2022.
5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Management Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm.” Accessed May 17, 2022.
6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Mathematicians and Statisticians, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm.” Accessed May 17, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.