How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep

The role of data scientists in the business world is well known. But did you know there is a specific field that combines data analysis, finance, and market intelligence to improve business outcomes? If you are interested in data science and business administration, then you might be interested in learning how to become a business intelligence analyst.

If a career as a business intelligence analyst sounds appealing to you, keep reading to find out everything you need to know. We will discuss all the essential information, including education tracks, industry skills, salary, and tips on job interview preparation.

What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst?

A business intelligence analyst is a professional who analyzes data on market intelligence and financial trends for business performance improvement and growth. The job is done by combining data analysis and business analytics.

This includes working with data visualization, business intelligence software, and data modeling techniques. As a business intelligence analyst, you must be proficient in programming, databases, statistics, analytical thinking, and have an in-depth business understanding.

Business Intelligence Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

Choosing to become a business intelligence analyst in 2021 means securing yourself a promising career and setting yourself on the path to a high salary. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a business intelligence analyst is $85,274 per year. An entry-level business intelligence analyst position starts on an average of $67,339 per year, or $32 per hour.

However, know that the salary changes depending on your experience, company, field, and location. According to ZipRecruiter, a business intelligence analyst in San Mateo, CA, earns an annual average of $106,835, which is significantly higher than the national average.

In addition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts, a subset of business intelligence analysts, are projected to grow by 11 percent between 2019-2029.


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Entry-Level Business Intelligence Analyst Job Requirements

The industry standard for an entry-level position for a business intelligence analyst is a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics, statistics, or another relevant field. Most companies require an additional four years of industry experience for the position. However, the entry-level requirements vary depending on the company.

How to Ace Your Business Intelligence Analyst Job Interview

The key to acing your business intelligence analyst job interview lies in your industry expertise, qualifications, work experience, and enthusiasm for the field.

Make yourself stand out from the candidate pool by earning professional certification beyond the educational requirements. You can get a certification in SQL, Tableau, ETL, Hadoop, or something else, depending on what you majored in.

It is crucial to thoroughly prepare for your interview by researching the company and job description. You’ll also need to prepare for these common business intelligence analyst interview questions.

Common Business Intelligence Analyst Job Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to become a business intelligence analyst?
  • Tell us about your background and why you think you are a good fit for the position?
  • What is your experience with common business intelligence software? Do you know Datapine, SAS, and SAP?
  • Which data modeling software are you most comfortable with? Give us an example of a project you’ve worked on using this software.
  • What is your understanding of selection bias, and how does it affect the job of a business intelligence analyst?
  • Give us an example of a project that required you to work with UAT and SDLC.
  • What do you know about agile software development and how do you think it impacts the world of business intelligence analytics?

What Degree Should I Get to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?

To become a business intelligence analyst, you typically need a bachelor’s degree. Some professionals choose to further their education for career advancement.

Below are the different educational tracks you can take to become a business intelligence analyst.

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Intelligence Analytics

Business intelligence is an amalgamation of statistics, data science, and business. This means there are countless degree options for students looking to pursue a degree in business intelligence analytics.

Popular business intelligence analyst bachelor’s degrees include business administration, statistics, and economics. You could also study for an online computer science degree. A bachelor’s degree will take you approximately four to five years to complete.

Make sure to enroll in certifications that teach you the technical skills that aren’t covered in your degree program. A bachelor’s degree paired with relevant experience will make you eligible for an entry-level business intelligence analyst position.

Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence Analytics

A master’s degree is a fairly popular route in the profession. A master’s degree in business administration (MBA) will open the door to the field without industry experience. It also increases your chances of getting a higher-paying position and more job opportunities. A master’s degree typically takes two years to complete.

Business Intelligence Analytics Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is not a common education track for business intelligence analytics professionals. However, it is ideal for those wanting to enter research or teaching positions. A PhD will also allow you to apply for senior positions in your company, such as a senior business intelligence analyst, senior financial analyst, business intelligence director, and more. It will take you around four to five years to complete a PhD in business intelligence analytics.

What Does a Business Intelligence Analyst Do?

The primary duty of a business intelligence analyst is to recommend business modernization and improvement solutions based on data and market research. But their responsibilities don’t end there.

Read below to find other duties and responsibilities of a business intelligence analyst.

Data Collection

Together with data analysis, business intelligence analysts also engage in data collection. This includes sourcing industry reports, popular market trends, new technologies in the sector, and more. They also collect data on overall customer response to the business.

Identify Business Problems

A business intelligence analyst’s job typically involves identifying the problems hampering business performance. This means finding patterns in business management and operations that are slowing overall productivity.

In other words, you must understand the business, its tech usage, and you must ask the right questions to detect any operational inefficiencies.

Project Management

Senior business intelligence analysts often take on the role of project managers. In this case, along with analytics, you are responsible for overall management. You are in charge of delivering data analytics information that will make the overall project efficient and successful.

Your responsibilities also include managing teams, communicating with clients, and providing intelligence analytics used for business development.

Essential Business Intelligence Analyst Skills

Alongside the required educational background, there are certain essential skills all business intelligence analysts need to have.

Here are the essential technical and soft skills you need to succeed in the field.

Programming Skills

Business intelligence analysts conduct data mining and analysis on a regular basis. This requires programming knowledge. Therefore, it is crucial that you learn C#, Python, SQL, Hadoop, and more to succeed in this field.

Business Administration Skills

An in-depth understanding of business administration is also essential to become a business intelligence analyst. To do the job well, you must have a firm grasp of market trends, business economics, customer data analysis, and much more.

Data Science Skills

Business intelligence analytics is heavily reliant on data science. This means to succeed in this profession you must have a broad skill set in data science. The data science areas required include data analytics, data visualization, data mining, data reporting, and databases.

Analytical Skills

In addition to the above-mentioned skills, a business intelligence analyst must also have great analytical skills. These include problem-solving, critical thinking, research, data interpretation, business intelligence, and statistical skills.

How to Become a Business
Intelligence Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, if you’ve decided this is the right career for you, what’s the best way to succeed in your professional journey? Here are the key steps you’ll need to take.


Get a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a business intelligence analyst is to get a bachelor’s degree. The major you choose will depend on your interests. Courses that cover data, business, computer science, and statistics will prepare you for a business intelligence analyst position.

You can also get a master’s degree in business intelligence analytics to enter the field at a higher level.


Secure an Internship

The majority of employers are looking to hire business intelligence analysts with relevant industry experience. While you are in college, apply for a business intelligence analytics internship or any other business-related apprenticeship.


Acquire Well-Rounded Business Intelligence Analytics Skills

Business intelligence analysis is a field that combines tech, analytics, and business. Your undergraduate or graduate degree won’t usually cover all these areas. Therefore, depending on your degree, you will need to take additional courses in areas where you lack expertise.

For example, if you need to learn to program, you can attend a coding boot camp and even enroll in online courses.


Get Professional Certifications

Having professional certifications is always a great way to impress recruiters. Consider getting a professional business intelligence analyst certification to enhance your resume.

Well-respected certifications include the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) certification and the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert in Business Intelligence certification.


Apply for Data Analyst or Business Analyst Positions

The next step is to gain professional experience. Apply for data analyst, information technology, or business analyst positions. After working in these positions for three to four years, you can then apply for business intelligence analyst positions.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst?

If you stop at a bachelor’s degree, it will take you four years, plus an additional four years of experience, to become a business intelligence analyst. However, if you get a master’s degree, you can go straight into a business intelligence analyst position. This means it will take you four years for your bachelor’s degree, then two to three years for your master’s degree.

In other words, the time it takes to become a business intelligence analyst depends on the education pathway you take.

Should You Become a Business Intelligence Analyst in 2021?

Yes, you should become a business intelligence analyst in 2021. This field is a great profession to invest in as it has a great job outlook and comes with a bright financial future.

As a business intelligence analyst, you can choose to work in various industries including healthcare, finance, or technology. As you advance in this career, you can apply for senior positions such as director of business analytics, a job with an average salary of $137,587 according to Glassdoor.

Business Intelligence Analyst FAQ

What are the job duties of a business intelligence analyst?

A business intelligence analyst uses industry reports and financial data to recommend solutions for business development.

Do business intelligence analysts need to know programming?

Yes, business intelligence analysts need to know programming languages such as Python, C#, and SQL. If you get your undergraduate degree in business administration or economics, you can enroll in online courses to learn to program.

What are essential skills needed to become a business intelligence analyst?

You will need an amalgamation of technical, analytical, and soft skills to become a business intelligence analyst and be successful. This includes everything from programming languages, such as Python and SQL, to data mining, data visualization, and more.

You are also expected to have excellent business administration skills in order to understand market trends and business goals.

Is an MBA required to qualify for a business intelligence analyst position?

No, a master’s of business administration (MBA) isn’t required. You can qualify for a business intelligence analyst position with a bachelor’s degree and industry experience. However, with an MBA you can directly apply for an entry-level business intelligence analyst position without years of industry-relevant experience.

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