Companies hire or consult with Business Intelligence Analysts, also referred to as BI Analysts, to help maximize the benefits of their data collection. Business executives depend on these services to make data-driven decisions for the company.

What Does a BI Analyst Do?

BI Analysts sift through large amounts of data through data mining and querying databases to identify business trends within the company itself, its competitors and the industry as a whole. The primary goal of a Business Intelligence Analyst is to use the data collected by the company to find solutions that improve efficiency within the company and increase profits.

A Business Intelligence Analyst typically is expected to take the results and deliver it to the management team in the form of reports or a presentation. Management then uses this information to make sound business decisions. In many cases, the lead Business Intelligence Analyst is part of the management team and is part of the decision-making process.

Through the course of their job, a BI Analysts may make recommendations as to what new systems or business practices will work best for the company, make suggestions as to personnel and staffing issues, identify inefficient business methods and recommend alternatives and find solutions to very specific business problems. Business Intelligence Analysts work closely with both department heads of high-level executives of the company.

Business Intelligence Analyst Skills Required?

A Business Intelligence Analyst must have a clear understanding of big data and data analysis. Employers look for candidates that understand data mining, data analysis, data visualization, dashboarding, querying, business intelligence and those that have advanced skills in SQL, Oracle and MySQL, as well as an in-depth knowledge of Microsoft applications, including Access, Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint.

Since BI analysts are expected to use data to find viable business solutions, it is imperative that they have a clear understanding of business management and the mechanics involved in business planning. BI analysts must have excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills to excel in their career. BI Analysts also must have good written and verbal communication skills.

In addition to professional and technical skills, employers are looking for candidates that are team players, have good organizational and time management skills and are highly motivated.

Business Intelligence Analyst Training & Educational Requirements

Several community colleges, technical schools, and other online programs offer certificate or Associate degree program in Business Intelligence Analysis or related fields. This level of training may be enough to help you land an entry-level position. For example, you may need to start your career off as a Business Intelligence Analyst Assistant or a Junior Business Intelligence Analyst until you have earned more training and have several years of experience under your belt.

You also will find degree programs, including Bachelor, Master and Doctorate degree programs in Business Intelligence Analyst and related fields, such as business intelligence, computer science, information management, information technology, statistics, data science, business administration, economics and mathematics at the majority of universities and colleges throughout the United States.

If you plan to earn a degree in one of the related fields, it is important that you take classes, such as data mining, data architecture, business management and data visualization that are geared towards the business intelligence analysis field. These industry-focused courses will provide the skills you need to enter the business intelligence field.

Many graduate students hoping to pursue a career as a Business Intelligence Analyst seek out MSBA (Masters in Business Analytics) degrees, or DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) with an emphasis in Data Analysis or Ph.D. in Business Analytics and Operations degrees. According to Salary.com, BI Analysts with a Master Degree make an average of $117,471 to $125,761 and BI Analysts with a Doctorate Degree earn an average of $118,698 to $126,725, compared.

Business Intelligence Analyst Certifications?

There are no requirements for Business Intelligence Analysts to hold a special certification or state license. Although, you will find several organizations offering certifications in business intelligence and data management. Two of the most popular certification programs include TDWI's Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) and Microsoft's Data Management and Analyst Certification.

Taking the extra step to earn a specialized certification in the business intelligence, management analysts or data management field can verify that you have the necessary skills to succeed in a BI Analysts position. This type of certification also may improve your chances of securing gainful employment.

Who Hires BI Analysts?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 percent of Business Intelligence Analysts are self-employed and work on a consulting basis. The remaining 83 percent work for primarily medium and large businesses that collect and manage varying degrees of big data. The most common industries hiring BI analysts today include finance, insurance, tech companies and healthcare.

Many Business Intelligence Analysts work in largest cities, such as Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco. The states that employ the most BI Analysts and pay the highest salaries include California, Washington, Texas, New York, Delaware, Virginia, and Georgia.

Business Intelligence Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for Business Intelligence Analysts was $81,330 in 2016. This salary is higher than many other careers in the Management Analytics Industry, including Business Analyst (average annual salary of $73,840), Market Research Analyst and Operations Research Analyst (each average annual salary of $62,560).

In addition, the BLS estimates the demand for BI Analysts to grow by 14 percent by the year 2026, which also is significantly higher than the national average job growth of 7 percent.

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