What Does a Business Data Analyst Do? 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Business data analysts use data analysis to advance their company's business goals.

[Featured image] A marketing analyst gives a presentation to her business team on her findings

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. 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.

What is a business data analyst?

A business data analyst aims to identify opportunities to grow, optimise, and improve an organisation’s business processes. They’ll often be tasked with a specific business area, such as supply chain management, customer service, or global trade practices.

Business data analysts 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 already determined problems.

2. Technical skills: Business data analysts will use database tools like Excel and SQL and programming languages like R and Python to collect and analyse new data sets, whereas business analysts typically work with data sets prepared for them.

This three-minute lecture from Duke University’s Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies class—the first course in the Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialisation—offers more information about the differences between business data analysts and business analysts.

Business data analyst tasks and responsibilities

A business data analyst’s responsibilities lie at the intersection of data analysis and business analysis, so their job description resembles 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, optimisation, and improvements

  • Support business intelligence strategies with quantitative analysis

  • Work cross-departmentally on data-driven strategies that improve business processes and decision-making

What tools do business data analysts use?

Business data analysts use several tools throughout the data analysis process to aid in efficiency and accuracy. Some common tools include:

  • Microsoft Excel

  • SQL

  • Python

  • R

  • Tableau

  • Alteryx

  • Microsoft Power BI

Business data analyst salary and job outlook

As of March 2024, the average base salary for a business data analyst in India is ₹14,20,000, according to Glassdoor [1]. Starting salaries can be as low as ₹7 lakh, rising to as high as ₹53 lakh. 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. The global data analytics market is growing, worth 55.1 billion USD in 2022 and predicted to be 303.4 billion USD by 2030 [2].  

How to become a business data analyst

There are many paths towards becoming a business data analyst. One path is education: companies looking to hire a business data analyst often want candidates to have a  degree—ideally in business, engineering, technology, maths, computer science, or a related area. 

Some companies may look for candidates with a Master in Business Administration (MBA) or postgraduate degree in a related field, like data analytics or computer science, for higher-level roles. 

In India, a typical business data analyst may begin their career path by completing their class 12 (with mathematics) and earning a bachelor of technology (BTech) or bachelor of business administration (BBA). They may also pursue an MBA in business analytics or intelligence before earning a relevant certification, such as a SAS certification.

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 levelling up on your current path, the first step towards recognising your qualifications is assessing the transferable skills you have, and the skills you’ll need to build.

Business data analyst technical skills

Technical skills, sometimes called ‘hard skills’, are the specialised knowledge and skills required to perform 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 organise data.

  • Programming languages: Analysts use R and Python to clean, manipulate, and analyse data.

  • Data visualisation: 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 recognising potential areas of improvement.

Business data analyst workplace skills

Workplace skills, sometimes called ‘soft skills’, relate to how you work and socialise 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.

  • Prioritisation and organisation: Analysts may face competing workflows, managing multiple projects simultaneously, or analysing 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 collecting and interpreting data.

  • Self-motivation: Besides collaborative moments, data analysts work independently with their data sets and research.

Keep learning

Since both business and data analysis are critical 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 visualisation using R and SQL.

Learn business analysis: Try the Business Analytics Specialisation from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business to practice applying data analysis to business situations. With these six courses, part of the iMBA programme, you’ll use RStudio, Power BI, and Alteryx tools 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 Specialisation. Over five courses, you’ll learn how to analyse, visualise, and manage data using Excel, Tableau, and MySQL.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Business Data Analyst Salaries, ​​https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/business-data-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm.” Accessed March 6, 2024.

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