A business analyst’s goal is to streamline organizations, making them more efficient and profitable. Given a problem, these skilled professionals propose solutions to management that allow the business to run smoothly. Ever wondered how much a business analyst makes? Or how to become one? You’ve come to the right place. This article discusses a business analysts’ average salary, key responsibilities, typical work environment and possible career paths.
Business Analyst Salary
So what is the salary of a business analyst? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual income was $90,860 or $43.68 per hour. The top 10% of earners made $148,110, whereas the lowest 10% earned $45,360 annually.
A number of factors contribute to annual salaries. Pay rises proportionally with job experience. On average, earning increase by 20% after the first 10 years of work . Entry-level positions come with starting salaries of around $45,360. Location of employment is another factor; earnings are highest in bustling metropolitan areas, and lower in rural settings where demand for business growth is typically lower. Salaries vary by state too; the 5 highest paying being New York , Massachusetts , Virginia , Maryland and Washington. Income also varies depending on the industry you work in.
The majority of business analysts enjoy comprehensive benefit packages, consisting of social security, retirement plans, time off and health care. Bonuses may be received in addition to annual salaries.
The job of business analysts is to understand the structure, policies and operations of a company, then recommend solutions to management that would allow the organization to better achieve its’ goals. Their tasks can be split into investigating, analyzing, communicating, documenting and evaluating.
Tasked with solving a certain problem, their first step is investigation. Analysts will interview personnel and observe how they operate to better understand the problem at hand. Which employees are needed? Are resources being wasted?
After gathering and organizing information, it needs analyzed. What do the results mean? Analysts attempt to find patterns in financial data as well as interpreting interview recordings, surveys and employment reports. They can then formulate and narrow down potential solutions to the problem.
With perhaps multiple solutions at hand, analysts need to explain their conclusions in a comprehensible way to management, who can then act upon them. Analysts are required to document their findings, so they can be presented as written reports or presentations. Finally, when the solution is implemented, analysts must evaluate its effectiveness, and may make further recommendations.
Business analysts’ time is split between their own offices and their clients’ site. Work settings depend on the industry sector, for example, health care business analysts will work in hospital settings, whereas others may work in government buildings or offices. Those in the profession travel frequently; usually visiting clients or attending conferences to keep abreast of the latest developments in their field.
Work hours vary depending on employer. In larger organizations, workload tends to be distributed among several individuals, so most enjoy regular schedules of around 40 hours per week during regular business hours. That said, longer hours are often needed to meet deadlines.
21% of business analysts are self-employed. Working independently means deciding your own hours, setting fees and choosing where to work, though without the safety net of regular income and employment, being your own boss usually involves working longer hours. A quarter of analysts work greater than 40 hours a week.
The occupation is often described as a challenge. Meeting deadlines and a demand for results leaves some stressed, while others thrive in the high-pressure environment. In a survey conducted by PayScale, business analysts ranked their profession 4/5 for job satisfaction.
How to become a Business Analyst
Most business analysts enter the profession through experience, rather than having had any formal training. It’s often said that formal knowledge is secondary to job experience.
Typically, most business analysts have at least a Bachelor’s degree. Few institutions offer “business analyst” degree programs, so most individuals have gained transferrable skills from other programs. Recommended degrees include business management, economics, accountancy, finance, marketing and psychology.
Some employers prefer candidates with further education. A Master’s degree in business administration (MBA) grants one a wider range of employment opportunities, as well as giving graduates a competitive edge over other applicants. Most employers select candidates based on their work experience, especially for more specialized organizations.
Individuals don’t need state licensing, although many obtain the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) certification. This requires candidates to have at least 7500 hours of work experience in the last 10 years, attended 21 hours of professional development courses in the last 4 years, as well completed 900 hours in four of six knowledge areas, which include enterprise analysis, solution assessment, and elicitation.
The number of employment opportunities for the profession is expected to grow by 19% in the 2012-2022 projection period (BLS). Demand is driven by multiple factors. Analysts will always be needed as companies look to streamline by cutting costs and increasing revenues. Furthermore, more U.S companies are looking for analysts to provide advice on how to enter international markets.
Prospects for smaller, specialized consultancy firms look particularly bright, as their expertise is less widely available. Analysts’ skills are needed in times of economic recession and growth, making it a fairly secure career.
Financial analysts interpret stock market fluctuations and provide financial advice to individuals and businesses. They advise on matters like retirement plans, savings accounts, and investment portfolios. A key part of their job involves researching current and historical economic trends. Becoming a financial analyst involves attaining a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as economics, although some positions require Master’s degrees. According to BLS, financial analysts had an average salary of $76,950 in 2012.
Accountants prepare and investigate financial records, as well as ensuring that taxes are paid. They have extensive knowledge of financial law, and are employed by an array of organizations to manage their finances. By interpreting companies’ financial data, they can suggest ways to reduce expenditure and enhance revenues. Most entry-level positions require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. The average salary of an accountant in 2012 was $63,550 according to BLS.