CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a business analyst.
Is becoming a business analyst right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a business analyst is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a business analyst or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
Internship / Work Experience
A summer program or internship provides students with hands-on experience in an environment similar to that in which they are hoping to build their careers.
This exposure and the opportunity to work under the direction of a senior analyst or a team of consultants can prove to be pivotal in helping students reconfirm their career choice or consider specializing in one particular area of the field.
Master’s Degree (recommended / optional)
A Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Business (MS-BA), and Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) are the hallmarks of business analysts committed to their field and who wish to widen their choices in the job market.
Most master’s programs are two years in length; some schools offer an accelerated option that allows students to earn their degree in twelve to eighteen months.
The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) grants the CMC (Certified Management Consultant) credential at three levels: basic, experienced, and management.
Basic is for consultants/analysts with three to nine years of experience, five satisfactory client evaluations, and a bachelor’s degree or at least five years of work experience including three years of full-time consulting plus significant professional education in management consulting. This certification stream also requires that candidates pass written and oral examinations.
Experienced is for consultants/analysts with ten or more years in independent or internal practice and for those who otherwise meet the Basic requirements. At this level, the scope of the written and oral examinations may be reduced.
Management is for high-level managers with twenty or more years of experience, a minimum of three years of client consulting, and accountability for successful completion of projects involving management consultants; and otherwise meeting the Basic track. At this level, the scope of the written and oral examinations may be reduced.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) and Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) programs.
The Chartered Institute for IT offers Foundation, Practitioner, Professional, and Consultant and Expert certificates.
Doctoral Degree (optional)
Business analysts seeking employment in teaching and research careers may consider earning a Ph.D. in Business Administration.
Coursework varies according to the student’s major and may focus on human resource or strategic management. Doctoral candidates must conduct original research and prepare and defend a dissertation. Completing a Ph.D. in this field takes between four and six years.
Business analysis is a discipline in which curiosity and questions are as important as education and technical information. When presented with a new project, asking questions – and more questions – is imperative to establishing a stable foundation for in-depth analysis. Being curious about others’ viewpoints is an important step in identifying problems and reaching solutions.
Join local networking groups for business analysts. Learn about different protocols and approaches to business problems and issues.
Be sure to get a copy of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide). This book lays out the various requirements and skills expected of a business analyst. It is also a helpful tool when studying for certifications.