What Is a Business Analyst? 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Business analysts help maximise a business's effectiveness through data-driven decisions. Learn about what business analysts do and what it takes to become one.

[Featured Image]: Business analyst discussing procedures to strengthen and increase efficiency of the business processes.

Business analysts use data to form insights and recommend business and other organisational changes. They can identify issues in virtually any part of an organisation, including information technology (IT) processes, organisational structures, or staff development.

Business analytics has become an important component of their operations as businesses seek to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Let’s take a closer look at what business analysts do and what it takes to get a job in business analytics. 

What does a business analyst do?

Business analysts identify areas that can be improved to increase efficiency and strengthen business processes. They often work closely with others throughout the organisation’s hierarchy to communicate their findings and help implement changes.

Tasks and duties can include:

  • Identifying and prioritising the organisation's functional and technical needs and requirements

  • Using SQL and Excel to analyse large data sets

  • Compiling charts, tables, and other elements of data visualisation 

  • Creating financial models to support business decisions

  • Understanding business strategies, goals, and requirements

  • Planning enterprise architecture (the structure of a business)

  • Forecasting, budgeting, and performing variance and financial analysis

What's the difference between a business analyst and a data analyst?

Both data analysts and business analysts support data-driven decisions in their companies. Business analysts tend to focus more on recommending solutions for business needs, while data analysts work more closely with the data.


Why pursue a career in business analysis?

You'll support your organisation's success as a business analyst through data-driven insights. It's a career where every day brings new challenges and new ways to put your skills into practice. If you enjoy helping people, asking questions, solving problems, and working independently, a career as a business analyst could be a good fit.

Business analyst salary

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for business analysts in India is ₹9,55,000 [1]. Your exact salary will vary depending on the company, location, and amount of experience you have. For example, while the salary for business analysts in Mumbai is on par with the national average, those working in Bangalore make an average of ₹10,47,500, and business analysts in Chennai make an average of ₹7,65,000.

Job outlook

The demand for business analysts has increased in recent years and is projected to continue, with a growth rate of 14.3 percent by 2026 in India. [2]. Other related job titles include management analyst and operations analyst, who perform duties similar to those of business analysts.

How to become a business analyst

Becoming a business analyst may require gaining skills and credentials applicable to the work and industry that interests you. Coursework, certifications, or degrees can aid in this process.

1. Sharpen your business analyst skills.

Here are some skills you’ll typically want to have as a business analyst. 

  • Business acumen: A solid understanding of finance, accounting, and business principles will help you identify operational issues and determine the best way to address them.

  • Communication: A business analyst must often communicate with several players within an organisation, including upper management and other teams. Presenting your ideas clearly and convincingly—verbally and in writing—will be a significant asset as a business analyst.

  • Data analysis: A business analysis role is central to gathering, tracking, and analysing performance metrics. A good grasp of data analysis and visualisation tools like Tableau, Excel, and BI Tools can be useful. Knowledge of a programming language like SQL may also come in handy.

  • Business analysis methodologies: Depending on your industry, it could help to be familiar with specific methods, like Agile Business Analysis, Six Sigma, or Rational Unified Process.

  • Industry expertise: Different industries have different business needs and challenges. Developing business solutions for an IT company might look different than for a health care company. Industry experience, even in another role, can give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

2. Take a course.

Refreshing your familiarity with the skills expected of a business analyst can show employers your knowledge is up-to-date and adequate. An online or in-person course can give you the tools to get your foot in the door of business analytics.

Take data analytics or business analytics courses to gain a holistic job understanding, or familiarise yourself with business analytics tools through Tableau, Excel, and MySQL coursework.

3. Earn a business analyst certification.

Earning a certification can expand your skill set and increase your earnings or make you more competitive for jobs. Here are some business analysis certifications to consider:

  • IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)

  • IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

  • IIBA Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)

  • PMI Professional in Business Analytics (PMI-PBA)

If you’re starting as a business analyst, the ECBA can show hiring managers you’ve received several hours of training and know the basics of business analysis. If you have some experience with business analytics, the CBAP, CCBA, and PMI-PBA can show employers your competency and experience.

4. Consider a degree.

Many employers like to see at least a bachelor’s degree on your CV, though some may prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

  • Bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor’s degrees are common for entry-level positions in analytical fields. Getting your bachelor's degree in a quantitative field like economics, finance, computer science, data science, statistics, information management, or a similar field can prepare you for business analysis jobs.

  • Master’s degrees and MBAs: Some employers might prefer candidates with a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You may also consider getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA); several programs offer specialisations in business analytics. Earning your MBA in Business Analytics could help advance your skills and knowledge and give you a competitive advantage in the job search.

5. Start with an entry-level role.

Internships and entry-level positions in accounting, finance, or other business settings can build your experience before you advance to a higher-level position. In your job search, look for titles like a junior or entry-level business analyst. If you’re still in university, making an appointment with a career counsellor can help you understand the opportunities.

Next steps

If a career in business analysis sounds interesting, you can start by exploring how to boost your skill set. Courses in business analytics or business systems can give you a broad introduction to the profession.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Business Analyst Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/business-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,16.htm.” Accessed May 14, 2024.

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