Businesses of all types collect and store data, later using this information to help inform decision-making. By carefully probing through the data using iterative statistical software, businesses gain insight into various organizational areas and are able to use data to ensure that their decisions are backed up with evidence. This is called business analytics.
In order to facilitate this decision-making process for managers, businesses often employ a certain type of analyst who specializes in the interpretation and use of company data. Business analytics (BA) specialists are one such type. With a heavy focus on statistical information, BA specialists are able to utilize company data to ultimately help the business gain an advantage in their chosen market.
At first glance, BA specialists seem quite similar to data analysts: Both positions involve the interpretation of company data and the use of these interpretations to help managers make better decisions.
There is a distinction, however, in the degree to which these two analysts delve into data: BA specialists are typically less involved in the deep, training-driven data analysis itself, and more involved in the use of programs and algorithms that comb through data to help provide statistical information that can be used.
This focus on use typically means that BA specialists have more of a business or management background than pure data analysts. This background tends to allow BA specialists greater insight into the details of a particular organization, such as financial information, employment figures, or current projects and goals.
BA specialists might use specific information to inform sales targets, planning or department performance metrics. Depending on the needs of an organization, BA specialists may also find themselves leaning more toward accounting or marketing information than IT projects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not presently include business analytics specialists as one of their job titles. Instead, the duties of a BA specialist are included in other positions, such as operations research analysts, financial analysts, budget analysts and market research analysts. The average median income for these four positions, and therefore a good starting point for assessing a BA specialist’s salary potential, is $74,340.
Employment prospects and salary ranges typically vary based on an individual’s work history and educational qualifications.
The requirements for work as a BA specialist depend on the employer and industry, with some organizations requiring as little as a two-year associate’s degree with related experience. More commonly, however, BA specialists tend to hold a bachelor’s degree at the minimum, with higher-level positions often asking for a related master’s degree. In the absence of a BA degree specialization, many employers look for coursework and training in related fields, such as business administration or IT.
Some organizations may also look for candidates with the IIBA CBAP certification. This industry-standard certification provides recruiters with evidence of the specific critical-thinking skills required, and applicants may find that it is what sets them apart from others in their field.
Projected career growth
As with salary information, BA specialists lack specific growth information on the BLS. That said, the above four related positions can still be used for a benchmark. The average growth rate for these four positions is 16%, which is faster than the national average across industries. As more organizations seek to incorporate Big Data into their decision-making processes, BA specialists can expect healthy job prospects in multiple industries.