Inside Business Analyst Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"It Was Shocking To See The People Who Are In The Industry...
most people in the industry are idiots. there is unproven ROI and its a lot of talk and speculation." (Analyst; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Business Law at Chapman in California; completed Professional degree in 2011

"Layoffs Are More Common That You Think...
The main thing that has surprised me is the fluidity of the workforce and the lack of loyalty that companies show to employees. The first job I had after getting my MBA lasted about a year and a half before I was laid off. A number of my MBA classmates have also had a similar experience, being laid off from major financial institutions within two years of their hire date. It's not hugely difficult to find another job in the field, but I am afraid the days of company loyalty are over." (Business Professional; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Business Administration at The University Of Alabama in Alabama; completed Master degree in 2010

"Specs Are Very Detailed...
I was surprised at how much detail goes into each set of specifications that we create. I was surprised at how much companies stress communication, but they don't actually encourage individuals within the teams to speak to one another." (Business Analyst; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Business Management at Calumet College Of St Joseph in Indiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"Your Background Follows You...
I am most surprised how my college background has gotten my foot into the door with employment in the past. In addition, am pleasantly surprised how important having contacts in my industry with a positive working relationship is of utmost importance!" (Financial Analyst; 2014)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied BUSINESS at VIRGINIA TECH in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2002

"Skills Needed But Not Expected...
To be a public affairs specialist was not something I was expecting to do, but it has been very fulfilling. Another curve ball was finding myself in the current business I work for." (Public Affairs; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Public Admin at Univ Of Pit in Pennsylvania; completed Master degree in 2010

"Analyst Knows More About The Business Then The Executives...
I am most surprised at how many very intelligent, well paid executives are unaware of what is making the business thrive, and what is failing in the current market. As an analyst, we have a lot of data to sort through, and there is a lot of valuable information, but they will only focus on about 15% of the data provided to them. If they used us more in their sales meetings, then it would be more productive for them." (Analyst; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey
School: Studied Human Resources at Ramapo College in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 2001

"Consulting Is Lonely...
I am surprised at how lonely traveling can get. Many people think consulting is glamorous, but it is very lonely and tiring." (Consultant; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Accounting at Ohio State in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"There Are Many Types Of Librarians...
I was surprised that librarians can work in corporations because all of my prior experience with librarians was in the public or academic library. Many corporations, such as pharmaceutical companies or energy companies, have libraries. Work in these types of environments includes connecting employees with various digital resources as well as providing advanced searching services relevant to the business needs of the organization." (Librarian; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, female
School: Studied Library And Information Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey; completed Master degree in 2012

"Larger Skill Set Needed Than Expected...
Most people would be surprised at the wide variety of work a business analyst is expected to do. Acting as the bridge between the technical team and the front end business team, the depth of knowledge required is sometimes greater than either individual side in the discussion. This depth of knowledge can be used as a large asset in one's career." (Technical Business Analyst; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Political Science at American University in District of Columbia; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"I Am Pleased To Improve My Company's Production And Bottom Line...
I am extremely happy to combine my interest in statistics, data, and metrics with my family's background in the field of dentistry. It's a very niche area that I am in but I love it! I am so happy to no longer be a in a meaning dead-end sales job." (Operations Manager; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, male
School: Studied Business at University Of Washington in Washington; completed Master degree in 2012

"College Education Is Less Relevant Than I Thought It Would Be...
I am surprised most by how little college education actually factors into the day-to-day of my job. Most of what I rely on is my on the job training and my own intelligence." (Benefits Analyst; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Business Marketing at Rochester Institute Of Technology in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2005

"I was surprised that the policy analysis skills I learned while working on my degree translated so much to my job in the technology world. I use the same analysis skills to analyze the user interactions with the websites I work on and to evaluate proposed changes. My career requires the same methods of thinking that I developed during school." (User Experience Researcher; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Policy Studies at Syracuse University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"I was surprised to see that my major at UNH did not matter that much in my profession. I have learned everything I have needed to know through my company's training. I was also surprised that I could make a respectable salary right out of college." (Business Analyst; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in New Hampshire, male
School: Studied Business Administration at University Of New Hampshire in New Hampshire; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I was surprised to find the depth and breadth of responsibilities this role has to offer as it forms an umbrella over all functions in the organization. I have to be credible with my analysis as it helps in decision making and hence have to be always on my toes with very minimal margin of error. It requires excellent Excel and Powerpoint skills and need of being an excellent communicator." (Business Analyst - Strategy; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Business at Thunderbird School Of Global Management in Arizona; completed Master degree in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Senior Business Analyst: "The best part of the job is the variety tasks that come with it. You meet with a client one day, write up requirements the next, test the application on a third day. Each client is a little different so even though the tasks may be the same they will have a different twist with the new client. The worst part is that you sometimes run into time crunches when something is due on a specific date and you do not have time during the day to complete it. Your options are to work overtime or see if someone else on the team can help you out." (2010)

Senior Business Systems Analyst: "The best part of the job is problem-solving, working with a wide variety of people and learning various business processes and technologies in detail. The more I learn, the more value I can bring to my customers. Technology changes so fast and the job of BSA is a great way to stay connected to a wide variety of technology. Programmers tend to specialize in a particular area but the BSA must work with all of them and thus is exposed to everything. The hardest part of the job is managing deadlines, many of which are outside of my control. In order to be successful I must continuously manage my customers expectations and deliver results." (2009)

Career Background

Business Analyst

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Start Now...
Get into the industry right out of college, do not be afraid to start at the bottom !" (Financial Analyst; 2014)

"Networking Is Key...
If you want to be successful in public administration, you have to network. Talk to many people, get business cards, put your ear to the streets." (Public Affairs; 2014)

"The People In The Industry Are Crazy...
be a people person, make and effort to get to know people." (Analyst; 2014)

"Make It Easy To Read...
You will spend 30% of your time trying to figure out what will happen, and 70% of your time explaining why it didn't, so never assume any piece of data is insignificant. And remember that sales people are sales people for a reason. They won't understand the math behind the numbers, so translate it into understandable terms so they can relay the message to their accounts." (Analyst; 2014)

"Maintain Relationships...
If you want to maintain happiness as a consultant, make sure you pay extra attention to relationships." (Consultant; 2014)

"Data Crunching...
Metrics are powerful measurement tools which can help your boss/company solve a ton of problems!" (Operations Manager; 2014)

"Different Environments...
Spend time doing internships to figure out the right type of library for you. Although different types of librarians use the same skills, the day to day experience in a public library will be very different than a corporate library." (Librarian; 2014)

"Develop Technical Skills Early...
If you want to be a successful Business Analyst, learn the technical side of things early on so that you can interface well with the development team." (Technical Business Analyst; 2013)

"Be Known For Being A Competent "Go To" Person...
There are plenty of entry level positions that you can turn into something bigger. Be good at your job, be smart, get to know the right people, and come off impressive and intelligent during interviews." (Benefits Analyst; 2013)

"Things To Learn In School...
Focus on classes that explain databases and technical development. Focus on classes that encourage communication and building relationships. Critical thinking is key, as well as being able to resolve problems working with technical and nontechnical people." (Business Analyst; 2013)

"Work Hard But Don't Drink The Kool-Aid...
Do your best work and always strive for promotion and recognition, but always keep in mind that the company could let you go at any time. Don't let it affect you too much if this happens, since there's nothing you could do and it is not an indictment on your calendar. Just as importantly, build this scenario into your personal financial strategy and try to save a sizable emergency fund before you let your lifestyle catch up to your income level." (Business Professional; 2013)

"Read The Industry Body Of Knowledge Book...
1. Learn as much about the business analyst process and tools as possible. 2. Google the International Institute of Business Analysis and read their Body of Knowledge book. 3. Learn as much about the industry in which you will be working as you can. 4. Have a good working knowledge of word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint and databases. 5. Learn to speak in front of people. 6. Learn how to present your ideas/questions in a non-confrontational manner. 7. Learn to be assertive." (Senior Business Analyst; 2010)

"Become A Good Communicator...
Work on being a good communicator, listen to what is being said and what is NOT said. Work on your written communication. Learn to write clearly and explain a process logically. Ask questions and be willing to learn as much about a business as possible (and as many businesses - such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing). Also, invest time in understanding technology. Take some programming courses, learn about databases and how data is stored and structured. Read trade journals and join professional groups, such as "Modern Analyst."" (Senior Business Systems Analyst; 2009)