If you enjoy evaluating and analysing data, creating solutions, communicating with a variety of people and have a good grasp of information technology, a career as a business analyst could be for you
As a business analyst, you'll work within an organisation, helping to manage change and plan for the future in line with company goals. This could be for one specific project, or as a permanent feature of the organisation. You'll need to understand the current organisational situation, identify future needs and create solutions to help meet those needs, usually (but not always) in relation to information and software systems.
You'll need to demonstrate excellent understanding of the way the organisation works and the sector it operates in, as you will be helping the organisation to develop its functions, services and products to meet goals with internal and external stakeholders.
You will also play a key role in communicating between internal departments and external parties, acting as a 'translator' where necessary to incorporate how information technology can support the organisation's needs.
A business analyst may also be known as:
As a business analyst, you will need to:
Business analyst roles exist on a permanent basis within organisations, but you could also work on a freelance/contract basis once you have gained some relevant experience. As an experienced business analyst, you could expect to charge around £350 per day.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Your working hours may vary, depending on whether you are a permanent employee (in which case you could expect to work full time, usually Monday to Fridays with some weekend work), or a contractor (where you may work longer hours during the week and sometimes weekends in order to complete project-based work within a specific timeframe).
You will need to have a flexible approach to working extra hours when the need arises.
Competition for business analyst positions is high, so having a degree is a distinct advantage. This could be in a relevant subject such as business information systems or business computing systems, but could also be from other disciplines, such as history, so long as you can demonstrate excellent analytical skills.
Relevant experience of managing projects can provide a pathway into working as a business analyst, although this is more likely for someone with a few years' industry experience, rather than someone looking to begin their career in this field.
As well as your degree, employers value experience and transferable skills, such as the ability to work in groups, analyse data, use technology and manage projects, which could be related to your studies or extra-curricular activities.
If you are a graduate from a non IT-related subject, you could take a relevant postgraduate qualification. Search for postgraduate courses in computer science and IT.
You will need:
Business analysis exists in almost every sector, from not-for-profit organisations through to retail and the financial services. It is a fast-paced and competitive industry so gaining work experience is essential.
You could apply for voluntary work with small enterprises to help improve a particular function of their organisation; this might even have a charitable focus.
Take advantage of any summer internship and placement opportunities provided on your course, they provide an excellent chance to gain first hand, practical experience and skills.
You can also contact organisations directly to enquire about work shadowing, showing an enthusiasm for this area of work and for their business sector.
Business analysts are needed in the public and private sector, large multi-national companies and smaller independent enterprises. There is scope to work in this field whatever your sector interest may be. Employers may offer permanent employment, or fixed-term contracts to work on a specific project.
Many business analysts with industry experience work on a self-employed or consultancy basis.
Individual companies advertise their own business analyst positions, so search the websites of any organisations that appeal to you. You could make a speculative approach or use existing networks, such as those run by professional bodies and societies.
Look for job vacancies at:
In any role it is important to keep developing your skills and knowledge in line with your own interests and changes in your sector. Many organisations offer professional development through in-house training and on-the-job courses but it is your responsibility to find your own opportunities to progress.
As a business analyst, you will find it useful to participate in training linked to:
You could also consider joining professional bodies such as the:
These organisations offer their members specific professional development courses and qualifications.
As an entry-level business analyst, gaining experience across multiple projects would be helpful for your career development. As your career progresses, you may choose to remain as a general business analyst or specialise in a particular area such as data analytics.
Career advancement opportunities might include progression to senior level business analyst. Successful business analysts with considerable experience and a proven track record can progress to working at director and executive level.