What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst? Making Data-Driven Business Decisions

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Business intelligence analysts use data to help businesses navigate decisions. Once you have the necessary skills, you can explore several paths to becoming one.

[Featured image] Two machine learning professionals discuss machine learning algorithms on their computer.

What does a business intelligence analyst do?

A business intelligence analyst (BI analyst) uses data and other information to help organisations make sound business decisions. 

Though exact job descriptions can vary, a business intelligence analyst’s role broadly breaks down into three parts:

  • Breaking down key business data: A business intelligence analyst might gather, clean, and analyse data like revenue, sales, market information, or customer engagement metrics of a business. BI analysts may also program tools and data models to help visualise or monitor data.

  • Interpreting the data: Finding patterns or seeing areas in the data that signal potential improvements in business practices is an essential part of a BI analyst’s job. For example, a BI analyst might analyse market trends to understand how a company might need to adapt its product.

  • Sharing findings: Sharing findings can include anything from visualising data in graphs and charts to putting reports together and presenting them in front of other teams or clients. Based on their findings, business intelligence analysts will also make recommendations to improve or grow the business.

According to May 2024 data from Glassdoor [1], a business intelligence analyst in India makes an average base salary of ₹8,80,000, with ₹50,000 to ₹1,25,304 in additional compensation from bonuses, tips, commissions, or profit sharing. Compare that to similar roles.

Data analyst₹6,71,000
Business analyst₹9,50,000
Product analyst₹13,88,996
Business intelligence consultant₹10,05,000
Senior business intelligence analyst₹11,42,500
Business intelligence architect₹27,50,00
Business intelligence manager₹15,69,573

Business intelligence analysts start their careers in analytical roles like data analysts. They can become business intelligence consultants, architects, managers, or senior positions.

Business intelligence analysts vs business analysts: What’s the difference?

Business analysts, separate from BI analysts, also analyse information to make recommendations to improve a business. But while BI analysts deal more directly with data to find insights, business analysts typically deal with the practical applications of those insights.


How to be a Business Intelligence Analyst

Here are some essential skills a BI analyst typically has and the paths you can take to acquire them.

  • Database tools: Working with data will be crucial to your job. Knowing how to manage data using common data tools such as Excel and SQL is essential. Familiarity with data analysis tools that offer machine learning solutions has also become an increasingly sought-after skill amongst BI analysts.

  • Data visualisation: Job descriptions often mention knowledge of services like Tableau and Power BI. Proficiency in data visualisation is one of the important skills you’ll need because these tools help create graphs and other data visualisations.

  • Coding languages: As a BI analyst, you may create systems or processes to help analyse data and monitor key aspects of the business. Potential employers often seek candidates familiar with coding languages like Python, Java, or R.

  • Financial and business knowledge: A good understanding of business practices and finance will be critical to providing insights on improving the business.

  • Communication: A business intelligence analyst often speaks to teams or creates written reports to share findings. Having the written and verbal communication skills to synthesise research and recommendations is often core to the role.

Becoming a business intelligence analyst

You can explore several paths to becoming a business intelligence analyst.

Professional certificates or online courses: A Professional Certificate, Guided Project, or Course can help you build needed skills like data analysis or familiarity with Power BI. Often with no previous related experience, certificates or online courses can offer the flexibility required to learn a new field while not disrupting your life. The University of Colorado provides a Data Warehouse Business Intelligence Specialisation on Coursera that can teach you the essentials of business intelligence analysis.

You can also become a Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) if you have two or more years of experience in computer information systems, data modelling, systems analysis, or a related field.

Interested in certifications but don’t know where to start?

You might also consider Google’s Professional Certificate in data analytics.


Bachelor’s degrees: A bachelor’s degree can bring you both the technical and critical thinking skills BI analysts need. Focus your studies on a quantitative field like finance, mathematics, or data science.

Master’s degrees: A master’s degree can build on your previous experience and education and pivot you into a business intelligence analyst role. Consider your expertise when deciding what field is best for your master’s.

If you’ve worked in business for several years and need a more robust background in data, a master’s in data science might suit your needs. If you have a solid understanding of data analysis but need a better business understanding, an MBA program focusing on business analytics might be what you’re looking for.

Getting started

Business intelligence analysts use their critical thinking and quantitative abilities to help businesses improve and thrive. As data is increasingly important in our everyday lives, BI analysts will likely be crucial to business operations for years. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. "Business Intelligence Analyst Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/india-business-intelligence-analyst-salary-SRCH_IL.0,5_IN115_KO6,35.htm?clickSource=searchBtn." Accessed May 16, 2024.

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