Becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analyst professionals are in high demand and play a crucial role in driving success for organizations across various industries. Keep reading to learn more about the skills and education required, the world of business intelligence, and real-life applications in this exciting field.

Key Takeaways

  • Business intelligence analysts use data to improve business operations and identify growth opportunities.

  • Essential skills include technical proficiency, analytical thinking, and strong communication abilities.

  • The industry outlook is positive with a projected job growth rate of 21% from 2018–2028.

The Role of a Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analysts use data to drive daily operations for organizations.

Business intelligence analysts are critical players in organizations, using data to improve workflow, identify growth opportunities, and support day-to-day decision-making processes. Their daily duties include engaging stakeholders, delivering presentations on key performance indicators, authoring reports to share data-driven insights, and collecting business intelligence data for analysis.

So, how does a business intelligence analyst role differ from a business analyst? There’s a lot of overlap between the two positions, and the role of a data analyst, yet there are subtle differences between the roles. Business intelligence analysts use data to uncover insights to aid in daily operations, while business analysts use predictive data to make decisions for the future.

The demand for business intelligence analysts is on the rise. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, there is an increasing need for professionals in this field. As the volume of data continues to increase, there will be additional demand for experts to analyze and interpret the information.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

The process of data collection, analysis, and interpretation to identify patterns, trends, and actionable insights for informed decision-making falls under the responsibilities of business intelligence analysts. This necessitates a strong grounding in data mining, data preparation, and SQL, coupled with proficiency in diverse data processing tools and data analytics.

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The need for proper data preparation is critical. This step requires acquiring, cleansing, and structuring data uniformly in order to produce meaningful insights. Implementing a standardized data analysis process, which includes data modeling, can result in significant time and cost savings, while also streamlining the team’s work.

Business intelligence analysts should be familiar with data preparation tools such as Tableau, Qlik, Gathr, Alteryx, and others to ensure the best results.

Creating Visualizations and Reports

The creation of visualizations and reports that effectively convey data-driven insights to stakeholders and decision-makers forms a key part of a business intelligence analyst’s duties. Data visualization, the process of graphically representing information and data using visual elements such as charts, graphs, and maps, facilitates comprehension of data by providing it in a visual context.

In addition to visualizations, self-service business intelligence implementation is another effective method for communicating insights. By collaborating with enterprise clients on self-service business intelligence implementations, business intelligence analysts provide guidance on how to modify and analyze data independently, empowering stakeholders and decision-makers to use the data to answer their own questions without relying upon technical expertise.

Steps to Becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst

A bachelor's degree is the first step to becomming a business intelligence analyst.

Becoming a business intelligence analyst involves a combination of acquiring relevant skills, gaining experience, and obtaining industry-recognized certifications. This journey typically includes:

  1. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in a related field

  2. Gaining work experience through internships or entry-level positions

  3. Earning professional certifications to further enhance career prospects.

How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

The path to becoming a business intelligence analyst is diverse and can include:

  • Online courses

  • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in quantitative fields such as data science, finance, or computer science

  • Certifications from industry-recognized institutions

While prominent employers may not prioritize long-term academic degrees, having a solid foundation in these fields can provide a strong basis for a career as a business intelligence analyst.

Certifications such as the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) and the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) can help demonstrate expertise and commitment to the field. Additionally, specialized programs like Data Warehousing for Business Intelligence programs offered by many organizations can provide valuable insights into the fundamentals of business intelligence analysis.

Essential Skills for a Business Intelligence Analyst

Business intelligence analysts require tecnical expertise combined with strong communication skills.

Three main skill sets are required for excelling in the role of a business intelligence analyst: technical expertise, analytical thinking, and robust communication abilities. These skills ensure that a business intelligence analyst can effectively collect, analyze, and interpret data, as well as convey complex insights to non-technical stakeholders and decision-makers.

Possessing robust technical expertise enables a business intelligence analyst to effectively work with data sources, translate the data, and understand the results so they can easily and clearly be communicated to management.

Technical Skills

The technical skills required for a business intelligence analyst include proficiency in database tools, coding languages, and data visualization software. Familiarity with common data tools, such as Excel and SQL, is essential, and it’s helpful to also understand coding languages like Python, Java, and R.

Data visualization tools, such as Tableau and Power BI, are also crucial for these analysts in order to effectively present data-driven insights in an easily digestible format. These tools allow analysts to create interactive and dynamic visualizations that can aid in decision-making processes.

Analytical Thinking

As the job involves critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to discern patterns and trends in data, analytical thinking forms a key skill for business intelligence analysts. This skill set allows analysts to uncover valuable insights that can contribute to the growth and success of an organization.

Having a strong grasp of business operations and finances is essential for providing meaningful insights to help improve business operations. By understanding the intricacies of the business landscape and being able to analyze data effectively, business intelligence analysts can play a pivotal role in driving an organization’s success.

Communication Abilities

To effectively convey complex data insights to non-technical stakeholders and decision-makers, a business intelligence analyst must possess strong communication abilities. These skills enable analysts to present their findings in a clear and concise manner, ensuring that their insights are understood and acted upon by the relevant parties.

In addition to verbal communication skills, written communication abilities are essential. This includes the creation of reports and documentation that detail their findings and recommendations, which can be easily understood by those without technical backgrounds.

Educational Background and Certifications

Advanced degrees and certifications will help business information analysts receive higher salaries.

The educational background and certifications for business information analysts can vary, but typically include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a quantitative field, such as finance, mathematics, or data science, and industry-recognized certifications like the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) or the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP).

Obtaining these qualifications can help demonstrate expertise and commitment to prospective employers.

Salary Expectations and Growth Opportunities

Business intelligence analysts can expect a high starting salary that can increase with certifications.

Salary expectations for business intelligence analysts depend on factors such as location, experience, and type of industry, with an average salary of $73,664 per year.

The entry-level pay for a business intelligence analyst is approximately $63,000 a year, with a significant opportunity to increase pay rapidly with experience. Receiving additional certifications or a master’s degree will help many in the field boost their salary expectation.

Real-Life Applications of Business Intelligence Analysis

Their main task is to examine customer data and translate information to management.

Business intelligence analysis has real-life applications across various industries and sectors, including business administration. Its use can help organizations identify revenue growth opportunities by examining customer data, market trends, and competitor strategies, as well as enhance operational efficiency by pinpointing areas of inefficiency in business processes. Through business analysis, companies can make informed decisions to improve their overall performance using business intelligence tools and collecting business intelligence data. One crucial aspect of this process is revenue reports compiling data, which provides valuable insights for decision-making.

By leveraging data-driven insights, businesses can make more informed decisions, leading to improved performance and success.

How to Break into the Business Intelligence Analyst Field

Securing job opportunities in the business intelligence analyst field requires a blend of relevant education, practical experience, and effective networking strategies. Aspiring business intelligence analysts should consider developing a portfolio and networking as part of their job search strategy.

Taking advantage of networking opportunities such as conferences or professional organizations, and reaching out to industry professionals can help build connections and increase visibility in the field.

Industry Outlook and Future Trends

The role of a business intelligence analyst is expected to grow in the next decade.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines business intelligence analysts with other management analysts, with a projected job growth rate of ten percent through 2032. There is expected to be high demand in the areas of information technology, human resources, and government agencies.

As the global business intelligence market continues to grow, the demand for talented business intelligence analysts will remain strong, making it an attractive career choice for those with the right skill set and expertise.


A career as a business intelligence analyst offers exciting opportunities in a high-demand field with strong growth potential. By acquiring the necessary skills, education, and certifications, aspiring business intelligence analysts can break into the field and contribute to the success of organizations across various industries. With a positive industry outlook and an ever-evolving landscape of data-driven decision-making, the role of a business intelligence analyst is more crucial than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is needed to become a business intelligence analyst?

To become a business intelligence analyst, a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as statistics, computer science, or business administration is necessary. For additional opportunities and higher salary, a master of business administration or a master’s in information technology may be beneficial. Knowledge of data management tools such as Excel and SQL and data analysis tools that offer machine learning solutions is also essential.

What is a business intelligence analyst’s salary like?

Business intelligence analysts can expect an average salary of $73,664. Those with more than twenty years of experience can expect to receive $104,000.

Is being a business intelligence analyst a good job?

A business intelligence analyst job is a lucrative and in-demand career, which offers competitive pay, varied job roles, job satisfaction, and job security. It can be a good choice for anyone with an interest in data analytics and project management.

Is it difficult being a business intelligence analyst?

Being a business intelligence analyst requires technical and soft skills in order to excel. It is a challenging job, but with the right combination, it can be very rewarding. Technical knowledge includes coding, data analysis, and database management. Soft skills include communication, problem solving, and critical thinking. Both are essential for success in the role.

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