How to Become a Business Analyst
How to Become a Business Analyst

Part detective, part interpreter and part visionary, a business analyst is 100% problem-solver extraordinaire. The business analyst’s role is to build a bridge between the business and IT sides of a company to facilitate a technical solution to a specific business problem. 

What a Business Analyst Does

Business analysis begins with developing a solid grasp of an organization’s capabilities and structure. “A business analyst has to understand what a company already can do, what it knows, how it’s organized and what’s already in place,” says Gary Mesick, manager of the digital services and analytics engineering lifecycle data organization at Boeing and an instructor in the UW Specialization in Business Analysis offered by UW Professional & Continuing Education. “It requires a lot of organizational and institutional knowledge to be an effective business analyst.”

    Projected Growth

Nationally: 11% 
Washington state: 29%

    Median Annual salary

Nationally: $95,290
Washington state: $103,680

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET

As a business analyst, you’ll need a head for business and technology because you need to gather and analyze information from both sides. When it comes to being tech savvy, though, you don’t need programmer-level abilities. But you do need a certain amount of technical aptitude. For instance, you need to understand an organization’s IT systems along with software development processes like Agile and Waterfall. You also have to be able to talk about tech options with IT professionals and analyze those options to come up with a solution.

In this role, your work culminates in presenting your analysis to decision makers. “Business analysts need to simplify and communicate the information they’ve gathered to a general audience who doesn’t understand all the ins and outs,” Mesick says. By doing this, you help stakeholders make informed decisions about a solution.

Strong Outlook

As you might imagine, a person who has such a strong combination of soft skills and technical talents is in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for management analysts, which includes business analysts, will grow at a rate of 11% between 2022 and 2032. A recent search on showed hundreds of business analyst job openings in Seattle, including jobs at Amazon, T-Mobile, Oracle and the University of Washington.  

Mesick notes that the explosion of data, online businesses and new technology all contribute to this increasing need for business analysts. “Somebody has to serve as the translator between businesses and IT groups,” he says. “And that translator is the business analyst.”

Entering or Advancing in the Field

Becoming proficient in industry-standard tools and practices is a necessary step to becoming a business analyst. While you can learn on your own, professional training, like a certificate program, can certainly cut down the time you need to get up to speed.

“The benefit of taking the certificate is that it takes the knowledge areas in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)  — the industry standard for business analysis — and turns them into practical action,” Mesick explains. “We say, ‘Use this tool, use this template, use this approach,’ and a student can actually do the work that's described in the body of knowledge.”

Keep Learning

If you’re interested in becoming a business analyst, or advancing in the field, the UW Specialization in Business Analysis is a great place to start. You might also want to explore some of our related programs for more ways to keep learning.

For more career tips and industry trends, visit the News & Features section of our website, and subscribe to our email list. To learn more about UW Professional & Continuing Education certificates, specializations, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.

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