Also known as business consultants, business analysts advise companies and organizations on various aspects related to business, from improving efficiency to running finances. Based on the needs of the business entity, they plan and implement solutions in collaboration with management. Since this is a versatile role where self-employment and contract-based work are common, many business students aspire to it.

Do you have an undergraduate degree in business, finance, computer science or a related field? Do you have work experience in business and want to switch positions? Here is all you need to know to successfully launch your career as a business analyst.

Supplement Your Education with Relevant Courses

A business analyst career requires extensive skills in areas such as computer proficiency, accounting, data management and information technology. This is what makes this role so flexible, but without the right credentials, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. Since business analysts tend to have different responsibilities over the course of their career, the more familiar you are with all the inner workings of the business world and important technology, the higher your chances to be considered for this position.

Earn the Right Certification

To gain all the critical knowledge required by this position and to be able to prove it with something that adds credibility and weight to your resume, you can earn a business analyst certification. The most prestigious certification is issued by the Institute of Business Analysis, the governing body of this industry, with global recognition. Some employers demand a certification from the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) which requires candidates to pass an exam according to their experience level, either beginner, experienced or management. Regardless of the certification you decide to get, it will be incontestable proof of competence.

Gain Real-World Work Experience

If you’re still studying, the best way to get a start in your chosen career is to pursue an internship. Working in a small company at the beginning of your professional life can be more effective as it gives you a better glimpse into all the processes that take place from recruitment to management decisions. Try to get involved in projects alongside experienced business analysts to learn more about how they work. Slowly, you can transition to a more advanced position as a business analyst yourself.

In the beginning, another effective path is to seek entry-level positions in business management, information technology or related fields to gain work experience relevant for a business analyst role. With 3-5 years of experience, you can interview for a business analyst job. At the start of your career, it is likely that you will work under the supervision of a senior analyst until you gain all the expertise required to work independently.

There are few business positions that combine analytical and problem-solving skills with interpersonal soft skills like communication and time management, which makes business analysis an attractive career path. Due to the complexity of the position however, each business analyst career can develop in a unique way, based on your motivation, skills and professional goals.