What Does It Take to Become a Business Analyst?

I am aspiring to become an IT / Software business analyst.

What are the basic qualification needed to become a business analyst?

What It Takes To Become A Business Analyst?
A business analyst is a liaison between the business process and IT group.

He or she is expected to have business process improvement experience and an IT background.

A degree in engineering or computer science, finance or business will suffice as far as academic qualifications are concerned.

But let me tell you this, it does not stop at that. You require more than a degree to get a business analysis job.

Let me describe the typical business analyst job profile before I move on to the topic of qualifications.

As a business analyst, you will work as a bridge between various stakeholders, business solution teams, IT teams etc.

You have to analyze the process and system to unearth the inefficiency and recommend ways to improve business.

As a business analyst you must be prepared to be called to help, if your company experiences some business problems or finds some untapped areas of opportunity — to help your company out of a business problem or to make the most out of a business opportunity.

As a business analyst, you have two career options. They are:

The IT Business Analyst: He/she works for IT / software related projects.
The Domain Business Analyst: He/she helps solve business problems for a specific domain such as finance, education, or healthcare, etc.

Qualifications of a Business Analyst:
As I mentioned earlier, a degree in engineering or computer science, in addition to finance and business related studies will suffice, as far as academic qualifications are concerned.

To be more specific, a degree in business, information systems or related fields will be highly desired.

But let me reiterate that you need more than just a degree. You need to develop other skills including:

  • Excellent writing and speaking skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of technologies like J2EEE/.NET and Web-based technologies like JS/HTML/ASP
  • Knowledge of SQL, data analysis, reporting, UML, Visual Basic programming, and Microsoft Office Automation
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Decision making skills
  • A good business understanding

You may have additional knowledge in the following:

  • Risk assessment/management, compliance, legal, HR, and related areas
  • Communicating with sponsors and end-users including senior executives
  • Familiarity with marketing and sales processes
  • Business continuity planning
  • Requirements gathering and process documentation
  • Strong business process analysis and process re-design skills
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Cross functional team leadership
  • Organizations change management methodologies
  • Ability to create, compose, and edit functional specifications
  • Strong problem solving skills and analytical skills
  • Experience in an IT or IT related position or as a software developer
  • Knowledge of data warehousing concepts and practices
  • Knowledge of formal methodologies for software implementation
  • Experience in implementing large scale IT applications

If you are really passionate about Information Technology (IT), then transitioning to a business analyst job would not be too hard for you.

It is relative difficult to get a job without a fair amount of experience in IT related positions, like software development, technical writing, project management, quality assurance.

The better way for you to move forward into a new business analyst position is to find opportunities for progressing at your current employer.

You may start by increasing your participation in activities such as requirement gathering. This will help prove the case that you can deliver and that you are enthusiastic about being a business analyst.

Business Analyst Certifications
There are multiple certifications available to business analysts today. However, please note that none of them guarantees you a job. The path to getting a job lies through hands-on experience and improving your skills.

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers you a Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP) certification. You can get certified from this institute if you already have several working years of experience as a business analyst.

ISEB which is part of British Computer Society (BCS) offers a diploma program in Business analysis as well.

Finally, I want to conclude by saying that the key to getting a business analyst is not so much in getting degrees as to building skills required for being a business analyst. Degrees and certifications will only support that.

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