Select Page

Post University Blog

If you enjoy working with numbers and data, and if you could see yourself making a career out of it, then a role as a business intelligence analyst may be well suited for you. Businesses of many different sizes, scopes, and industries rely on business intelligence analysts to help them make informed decisions while streamlining operations. Moreover, this line of work can be extremely rewarding for those who enjoy decoding large data sets.

With a better understanding of what the role of a business intelligence analyst entails and how to become one, you can determine whether this career path may be right for you.

What Does a Business Intelligence Analyst Do?

So, what does a business intelligence analyst do? In simplest terms, these professionals combine their knowledge of information technology and business to analyze large sets of data and make tailored recommendations for businesses.

Key Responsibilities of a Business Intelligence Analyst

The exact roles and responsibilities of a business intelligence analyst can vary depending on what the company needs. Generally, business intelligence analysts are required to analyze and evaluate large amounts of data collected by the business itself. From there, these analysts make recommendations on new policies, software, and other methodologies that may empower the business to operate more productively, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

In addition to breaking down and interpreting data, business intelligence analysts may also be responsible for “translating” their findings to other shareholders and team members in a way that is easy for them to understand.

How a Business Intelligence Analyst Supports Business Strategy

What does a business intelligence analyst do for business strategy? These professionals play an important role in supporting the short- and long-term strategies of a growing business. This is because business intelligence analysts consider the findings and interpretations of their data in conjunction with the company’s strategies and goals for growth when making tailored recommendations. At the end of the day, every recommendation made by a business intelligence analyst must support the company’s overarching strategy and mission.

The Differentiating Factors of a Business Intelligence Analyst

One common question a lot of people have when they learn about the career of a business intelligence analyst is how this line of work is different from that of a business analyst or a business intelligence developer. With a better understanding of the differences between these roles, you can determine which line of work may be best suited for your interests.

Business Intelligence Analysts vs. Business Analysts: Spotting the Difference

Business analysts and business intelligence analysts both play important roles in making recommendations for businesses to help them grow and succeed. However, the key difference is that business intelligence analysts tend to work more closely with numbers and data. Contrarily, general business analysts usually work more with applications of those insights and less with the raw data itself.

BI Analysts and BI Developers: A Comparative Analysis

A business intelligence developer also plays a similar role to that of a business intelligence analyst, but there is a key difference to note. Most importantly, business intelligence developers tend to work more on report writing and visualizing data, as well as the software and interfaces used to accomplish those goals. These professionals take on slightly more of a technical role within a business than a BI analyst, and it is not uncommon for BI developers and BI analysts to collaborate with each other.

Educational Pathway to Becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst

If working as a business intelligence analyst sounds like something you might be interested in, you may be wondering how to become a business intelligence analyst in this competitive field. Fortunately, there are some basic steps and guidelines you can follow to begin pursuing a career in this industry.

Essential Academic Qualifications for a Business Intelligence Analyst

At the very minimum, you will typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field (such as data science or information technology) to qualify for even an entry-level position as a business intelligence analyst. Ideally, a candidate applying for a business intelligence analyst job at a higher level will have a graduate degree (such as a master’s degree) in business or a related field.

The Value of Certifications in Enhancing Your BI Analyst Career

In addition to an advanced degree, pursuing additional certifications and designations can be a great way to differentiate yourself and help you stand out in the field. There are many professional certifications to consider that can help you gain valuable skills that you can directly apply to your work as a business intelligence analyst. This includes becoming Microsoft Certified as a Data Analyst Associate or even a Certified Business Intelligence Professional through TDWI.

Take your time when exploring the various certifications available to you so that you can determine which one(s) may best apply to your career goals as well as ensuring that what a business intelligence analyst does applies to the sort of career you would like and enjoy.

Skills Required for a Business Intelligence Analyst

In addition to a formal education and training, there are some essential skills that all aspiring business intelligence analysts should possess to do their jobs well. This includes both technical skills and soft skills that can be learned both in school and through hands-on experience.

Technical Skills: Database Tools and Coding Languages

Business intelligence analysts need to possess strong technical skills, including proficiency in the following areas:

  • Data architecture
  • Database design
  • Data security
  • Extract, Transform, Load (ETL)
  • SQL
  • Data visualization tools (including Tableau)
  • Cloud computing technology

The Importance of Data Visualization and Statistical Analysis Skills

Some people may wonder what does a business intelligence analyst do for a company. However, one of the most important aspects of the job as a business intelligence analyst is being able to use data visualization and statistical analysis skills to make sense of very large sets of data. Different companies may require business intelligence analysts to work with different data visualization platforms and other software. That said, being proficient in these tools (and being quick to learn new software) will pay off greatly in this type of role.

Why Communication Skills and Financial Knowledge Matter

In addition to highly technical skills, business intelligence analysts must also possess strong communication skills, financial knowledge, and business acumen. Specifically, strong written and verbal communication skills are required to present data and recommendations (often with highly technical data) in an approachable and accessible way.

Meanwhile, understanding the basics of running a profitable and successful business can help business intelligence analysts make better recommendations to the companies they serve.

Daily Tasks of a Business Intelligence Analyst

What does a day in the life of a business intelligence analyst look like? No two days are exactly alike, nor are two BI analyst roles. Which is why some find the question of how to become a business intelligence analyst so challenging! Still, there are a few tasks that these professionals can generally expect to tackle on any given day.

Data Analysis and Decision Support

Working with large amounts of data and using analysis tools to make sense of that data is an everyday part of the job for business intelligence analysts. Specifically, these professionals are responsible for collecting and extracting data as needed, plus using querying techniques and analyzing data with specific software applications.

In the interim, business intelligence analysts provide critical decision support. They often meet with clients to understand company needs and concerns before creating summary reports and presenting recommendations to higher-ups on a regular basis. In some cases, business intelligence analysts may also be responsible for overseeing the implementation of changes they have recommended.

Collaboration, Reports, and Data Security

It is not uncommon for business intelligence analysts to collaborate with other professionals in their everyday jobs, including business analysts and business intelligence developers.

Data security and reporting are also important aspects of a BI analyst’s job, as generating reports is critical to making sound interpretations and recommendations. Concurrently, BI analysts must understand the ins and outs of data privacy and security to always keep potentially sensitive company information safe.

Job Prospects for Business Intelligence Analysts

When deciding on the career path that you wish to pursue, it is always a good idea to consider current job opportunities, in addition to emerging trends within the industry itself.

Current Job Opportunities for Business Intelligence Analysts

Business intelligence analysts can work for any number of businesses across a variety of industries. Yet, it is most common for these professionals to work for the government (including the Department of Defense), private businesses, corporations, and consulting firms.

Most business intelligence analysts work full-time in an office setting, though remote work may be a possibility in some cases.

Emerging Trends in Business Intelligence

Those considering a career in business intelligence have a responsibility to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations within the industry. This way, they can remain relevant and continue to provide their clients with the services they need.

Currently, the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are emerging trends in the business intelligence field, and it is unlikely that this trend will fade anytime soon. As AI and machine learning technology become smarter and more efficient, BI analysts will be expected to utilize it more in their everyday work.

Is Business Intelligence a Suitable Career Path?

Still not sure whether a career in business intelligence is right for you? There are a few things to consider that might help you reach a decision about your future.

Aspects to Consider for Aspiring Business Intelligence Analysts

Business intelligence analysts work with large amounts of data on a regular basis, spending a lot of their time decoding and interpreting data to make recommendations for business growth. To find success and enjoyment in this line of work, dealing with data sets is something you will not only need to be good at, but you will also need to find it enjoyable.

Consider that this field is constantly growing and evolving, with new tools and technologies popping up around every corner. You will need to be committed to a lifetime of learning and professional development to find success in this dynamic field.

What Are the Long-Term Prospects for a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Business intelligence analysts often go on to work long and rewarding careers for businesses, government agencies, and private consulting firms. Over time, they may also be eligible for leadership roles where they may be responsible for organizing teams and taking on more supervisory tasks.

Learn More About a Business Intelligence and Analytics Degree

Working as a business intelligence analyst can be a challenging yet rewarding job, especially for those who are not afraid to work with large amounts of data. If you already have an undergraduate degree in business or a related field, or you want to learn how to become a business intelligence analyst, then the next logical step is to pursue a Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Analytics from Post University.

This 100% online degree program offers the opportunity to develop the skills and insights that you need to analyze and identify common business challenges that require data-driven solutions. Get in touch to learn more about this graduate program or begin your online application today.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and its outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.