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What is a Business Intelligence Analyst and What Do They Do?

By DeVry University

June 6, 2023

5 min read
 

Business intelligence (BI) is the use of software and services that help to turn data—often “big data”—into actionable insights that can be used to form smarter decision making. For example, companies can use BI to identify problems, increase efficiency, spot market trends early on and develop revenue-boosting strategies. It's the responsibility of business intelligence analysts to analyze the insights being generated and use them to help an organization’s key players make better decisions, plans and strategies.

What Do Business Intelligence Analysts Do?

Entry-level business intelligence analysts, which may hold job titles such as Business Intelligence Analyst I, Junior Business Intelligence Analyst or Assistant Business Intelligence Analyst, usually have skills in Microsoft Excel, SQL, databases, data warehouses and data visualization. Required skills vary considerably by organization and level; some roles may require additional skills such as Python programming or experience with specific analytical tools and are suitable for higher-level professionals who have a few years of experience under their belt.

One way business intelligence analysts help organizations is by assessing four V’s of big data:

  • Volume

    How much data is being processed, stored and analyzed

  • Variety

    The different types of data that exist

  • Velocity

    The speed of data processing

  • Veracity

    The uncertainty of data

Assessing these four key big data elements can give business intelligence analysts a comprehensive view of their organization’s data that can then enable them to identify areas that need improvement, estimate the scope of their work and organize an effective data analysis plan.

 

With their exceptionally large data sets, data being analyzed often falls into the category of “big data.” Big data provides information, which generates understanding and enables smarter decisions. This doesn’t just apply to business—it's relevant for healthcare, crime prevention and other industries, and makes business intelligence analysis an exciting career.

Where Do Business Intelligence Analysts Fit Into an Organization?

Business intelligence analysts are often part of an organization’s data science and BI department. Depending on the size of an organization, business intelligence analysts can work with a large team of data scientists and other business intelligence analysts, or they can operate in a small team or even independently.

Business intelligence analysts usually report to senior level executives, such as:

  • Director of Business Intelligence

  • Associate Director of Business Intelligence

  • Vice President of Business Intelligence

Entry-level business intelligence analysts, however, will typically report to a mid-level manager or higher-level analyst, such as:

  • Business Intelligence Manager

  • BI Project Manager

  • Senior Business Intelligence Analyst

How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst

Your first step along this career path will be to earn the required education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data scientists like business intelligence analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Common majors for business intelligence analysts include computer science, data science, statistics, business administration, economics and related fields.

Earned as part of a DeVry Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Management or Technical Management, the curriculum in our Business Intelligence and Analytics Management Specialization can immerse you in the essentials of business intelligence including the application of analytical tools, applications, databases and data modeling, and real-world management topics like supply chain support and the managerial and business applications for data analytics.

If you choose to continue your education with us, an advanced degree such as a master’s degree or an MBA may be a good choice. At our Keller Graduate School of Management, we offer an MBA with a Specialization in Business Intelligence and Analytics Management that can build on the business skills you’ve acquired in your undergraduate studies and help you prepare to pursue a variety of career roles in managing big data, data mining and other aspects of business intelligence.

Additional steps you can take as an aspiring business intelligence analyst include gaining real-world work experience through an internship or by earning industry-recognized certifications. By completing an internship program, you’ll not only have the chance to start building your professional network, but you may be able to gain helpful hands-on experience in a data analytics environment, which can help you become more confident in your abilities and work out what kinds of work you enjoy doing.

By earning industry-recognized certifications, you might help yourself stand out as a job candidate or qualify for positions where certain certifications are a requirement. Certifications for business intelligence analysts include Microsoft’s Certified Power BI Data Analyst and the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) credential from TDWI.

Business Intelligence Analyst Skills

A mixture of technical and workplace skills are required to successfully take on the role of business intelligence analyst.

Here are some important technical skills:

  • Database design, data architecture and data mining and analytical skills.

  • Data security, privacy and visualization skills, including proficiency in tools such as Tableau and Qlink.

  • Proficiency in ETL (extract, transform, load).

  • Knowledge of cloud computing and data storage technology, such as BigQuery from Google and Redshift from Amazon.

These workplace skills are also important for business intelligence analysts:

 

  • Advanced communication and presentation skills that allow business intelligence analysts to share recommendations and make highly technical data more digestible for a variety of audiences.

  • Strong leadership and collaborative abilities, enabling them to brainstorm on data science projects in a team environment.

  • Creative problem-solving skills and the ability to think critically and objectively.

  • The ability to work in a global, diverse and customer satisfaction-focused workforce, and to work directly with clients.

Business Intelligence Analyst FAQs

How long does it take to become a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Generally speaking, it will take a minimum of 4 years, since that’s about as long as it typically takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. It could take longer if you decide to pursue an advanced degree or gain experience in another area first.

The number of credits you take per session, or the number of sessions you take per year, will also have an impact. For students earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Specialization in Business Intelligence and Analytics Management, for example, can earn their degree in 2 years and 8 months on an accelerated schedule, or in 4 years on a normal schedule.1

1Accelerated schedule is per 12-month period, assumes completion of 3 semesters, enrollment in 12-19 credit hours per semester and continuous, full-time year-round enrollment with no breaks. Normal schedule is per 12-month period, assumes completion of 2 semesters and full-time enrollment in 12-19 credit hours per semester.

What is the job outlook for a Business Intelligence Analyst?

The job outlook for this occupation is strong, based on projections by the BLS. They project employment of data scientists to grow 35% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, with about 17,700 openings for data scientists each year, on average, over the decade.2 This growth is projected on a national level and local growth will vary by location. This projection is not specific to DeVry University graduates and may include earners at all stages of their careers.

The BLS attributes this significant employment growth to the increased demand for data-driven decision making as organizations make informed decisions to improve their business processes, design new products and improve the marketing of existing products. With the predicted increase in the volume of data collected, the BLS projects the need for more data scientists to mine and analyze it will also rise significantly.

Is a Business Intelligence Analyst a good career?

This question depends on your personal and professional goals. If you have an analytical mind and an interest in how information is collected and used to help businesses make well-informed decisions, then it may be a good fit for you.

And as mentioned in the FAQ above, since the need for data scientists is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, it may be a good career path in that it will be needed across a wide variety of industries and may offer the chance to find a job that aligns with your interests.

1Accelerated schedule is per 12-month period, assumes completion of 3 semesters, enrollment in 12-19 credit hours per semester and continuous, full-time year-round enrollment with no breaks. Normal schedule is per 12-month period, assumes completion of 2 semesters and full-time enrollment in 12-19 credit hours per semester.

2Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. BLS projections are not specific to DeVry University students or graduates and may include earners at all stages of their career and not just entry level. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/data-scientists.htm

 

You Can Play an Important Role in Business Intelligence, with Help from DeVry

Explore how a Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Business Intelligence and Analytics Management from DeVry can help you build industry-relevant skills.

Our 100% online programs can help you balance your commitment to education with work, family and other aspects of your busy life. Classes start soon. Let’s talk about getting you started in our next session!

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