How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst in 6 Simple Steps
Business intelligence (BI) analysts use data to aid companies in making key informed decisions about the business. These analysts leverage their technical skills and soft skills to gather and analyze information. BI analyst jobs are a booming part of the data analytics industry.
Are you wondering how to become a business intelligence analyst? Let’s look at what you need to become one!
Last Updated January 2021
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Responsibilities of a business intelligence analyst
Business intelligence analysts use different tools and techniques to clean, combine, and visualize data. Some of their duties include:
- Connecting to and profile data
- Creating data models and queries
- Developing curated data sources
- Analyzing data for trends and patterns
- Communicating data outliers and other performance indicators
- Developing visualizations and dashboards
- Creating presentations and reports
- Working cooperatively with business partners and IT counterparts
Depending on the business intelligence analyst’s role, job level, and experience, they will have different responsibilities. BI analysts may also be responsible for helping other analysts develop their analytic skill sets.
What educational background do you need to be a BI analyst?
BI analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in a technical or business field. Listed below are some common degrees required for business intelligence analyst positions.
- Computer Information Systems
- Information Technology
- Advanced Analytics
- Data Science
- Business Administration
- Supply Chain Management
Top courses in Tableau
There has been a rapid increase in Master’s Degrees in analytics as well. These degrees are well suited for business intelligence analyst roles and have many in-person, hybrid, and remote options.
Some examples of graduate-level analytics degrees include:
- Masters in applied data science
- Master of information and data science
- Master of business analytics
- Masters in business intelligence
- Masters in business analytics
What skill sets do business intelligence analysts have?
Business intelligence analysts need a variety of skills. This includes both hard (software/technical) skills and soft (interpersonal) skills. Skills that employers look for in business intelligence analysts include:
Hard Skills (Technical)
- Data modeling
- Data mining
- Data visualization
- Graphic design
- ETL development
- Programming and query languages (SQL, Python, R, C#)
- Data analysis
- Business analysis
- Microsoft Office and Excel
Soft Skills (Interpersonal)
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Communication skills
- Active listening
- Decision making
- Strategic thinking
- Business writing
- Team building
Recommended technologies to learn
Business intelligence analysts can learn many technologies. Four key areas to concentrate on are:
- Query Language: SQL is the most widely used query language and comes in several flavors. Open-source tools like MySQL and PostgreSQL are the best places to start.
- ETL / Data Modeling: You can do some ETL and data modeling with SQL, but you may need other tools to get the job done. Business-facing tools like Tableau Prep and Alteryx are great choices here.
- Data Visualization: Tableau is a leader in the data visualization space. It is also one of the most requested skillsets by employers.
- Data Science: Python and R are the most popular data science programming languages. These aren’t 100% necessary but are a good extra skillset to have.
Breadth vs. depth
It is important to remember that you can’t learn ALL the technologies out there. It’s often better to dive deep into one or two technologies. Once you have a deep understanding of one tool, you should gain a broad knowledge of other technologies.
Having both deep and broad knowledge will help you adapt to your new roles. This experience will also help you show your prospective employers that you know your stuff!
How do you level up your skills in business intelligence?
Leveling up your skillset can be a challenge. This is especially true in today’s competitive market for business intelligence analysts.
Some of the best ways to diversify your skills include:
- Taking eLearning courses (like my Tableau Desktop Beginner’s course)
- Leveraging tools at work and for personal projects
- Webinars and conferences
- Presenting your work
The best advice to level up is to learn while doing. Try to make yourself accountable by assigning projects that matter to you or your work.
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Which certifications are beneficial?
Professional certificates are a great way to tell employers you are serious and a perfect addition to your resume. You may have the skills, but passing a certification will give you a critical edge over other applicants.
You can choose from many certifications, so it is best to concentrate on certifications related to your specialization. If you are very strong in data visualization, make sure you have a data viz cert (like Tableau Desktop Specialist).
What roles should you apply for?
Some common job titles for business intelligence analysts are:
- Business intelligence analyst
- Business intelligence engineer
- Business systems analysts
- Data and analytics consultant
- Data analyst
- Data analytics engineer
- Data engineer
- Data integration specialist
- Systems analyst
- Data visualization engineer
- Database engineer
How much do BI analysts typically get paid?
In the US, Business intelligence analyst pay is relatively high in the information technology field. The median base pay for business intelligence roles is between US$80,000 and US$90,000. This can increase even more in big cities and metro areas.
Once business intelligence analysts move into senior and management level roles, their pay can increase even more. Additionally, bonuses and benefits are strong for business intelligence roles.
Business intelligence analyst interviews
Interviews are a critical part of landing a business intelligence analyst position. Like all interviews, it is important that you are well prepared. One thing you can do to prepare for your interview is to review typical interview questions for business intelligence analyst roles.
Common interview question topics and scenarios
- Build a SQL query during the interview/on a board
- Demonstrate knowledge of data modeling and architecture
- Practical tests using the technology (real data problems)
- Questions related to popular BI tools (Tableau, PowerBI, MySQL, Excel, etc.)
- Behavioral questions
- Explain to me a time when you solved a difficult problem?
- What’s the most challenging part of being a business intelligence analyst?
- What would you do if the data you’ve submitted is incorrect?
- Real-time hands-on questions using excel and other common tools
- Showing your portfolio and explaining past experiences
No matter which role you are applying for, just remember that business intelligence analysts come from all different backgrounds and skill sets. All you need to do to land the right job is play to your strengths and be confident in your abilities.
Best of luck!