In 2019, the career prospects for business analysts continue to be bright as more companies are increasing their investments in big data, business analytics, and AI to stay competitive as they build more data-driven organizations. Market research by International Data Corporation forecasts big data and business analytics revenues to reach $189.1 billion in 2019, a 12% increase over 2018.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the business analyst or “management analyst” had a mean annual wage of $94,390 in May 2018. The BLS estimates the need for business analysts to grow 14% from 2016 to 2026 as companies seek to improve efficiency and control costs.
(Information comes from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wages report for May 2018. The 50% percentile represents the median of the study and differs somewhat from the average explained earlier in the article.)
In a survey of C-level executives of Fortune 1000 companies done in January 2019 by New Vantage Partners, 92% of respondents said they were increasing their investment in big data and AI, with 75% citing fear of disruption from data-driven digital competitors and 92% stating that it would allow their businesses to be more competitive and agile.
However, only 31% of respondents said they had achieved a data-driven organization, with 77% saying that “business adoption” of big data and AI initiatives continued to represent challenges for organizations.
As businesses continue with this trend of increased investment and slow adoption of big data and AI initiatives, business analysts will increasingly become more important to act as a catalyst for adoption. Equipped with problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills, plus technological expertise, business analysts will find cost-effective solutions that lead to greater profitability and efficiency for their organizations.
While I would always hesitate to base decisions off of a single survey, substantiating the report by searching for business analyst jobs in the United States shows that the demand for business analyst roles is still very much alive.
As of April 2019, on Indeed.com there are approximately 7,851 open “business analyst” jobs in the United States alone and the following graphic depicts their geographic distribution ranked by the number of positions available per locale.
(Job postings in the U.S. were searched with the title ”business analyst” query on Indeed’s job aggregator. The total job postings in the graph represent 2,115 postings. The colored states represent the 2018 per capita income from Tableau. Per capita income ranges from $28,600 to $68,800.)
What Skills Does a Business Analyst Need?
As a mentor for Springboard’s Business Analytics Course, I’ve helped students master the skills needed to become successful analysts.
While not all business analyst roles are created equal, they do share similarities. Here are a few skills that I have found to be successful in showcasing during business analyst interviews:
- Confident and polished communication skills—be able to speak comfortably with engineering, marketing, customer service, and product teams
- Project management experience
- People management experience
- Modeling experience
- Technical expertise as it relates to the organizational capabilities
- Clear and concise writing abilities
- Data analysis: Excel, SQL, and a statistical programming language
- Critical thinking skills
- Understanding the business objectives of an organization and how they relate to projects you are developing
- A skeptical and inquisitive mind
So, How do I Get Hired as a Business Analyst?
Obviously, you’ll need a resume that sells your experience. Check out this blog post for practical tips on creating a stand-out tech resume.
Outside of that, the probability of success in landing a business analyst role is largely dependent on how well the candidate fits within the team. You should mull over some of these questions and ideas as you decide which organization to attempt to go for.
- How well your background fits the team’s needs within the organization (can you do what we put in the job description, and is there potential for growth?);
- The cultural fit within the team (do we get along?); and
- Your desired salary (can we pay you enough to stay engaged and develop your best work?).
For a more detailed understanding of the business analyst hiring process, I’ve developed a roadmap highlighting the areas to pay attention to. This roadmap represents a framework based on my personal experience hiring business analysts at various tech organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What I hope you take away from the roadmap is the general understanding of what parts of the interview process to prepare for, and what parts you need to nail in order to work for the organization of your dreams.