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Business analysts help form some of the most consequential decisions a company can make, but how do they make that happen?

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New innovations are being developed every day, and companies are placing big bets on whether their products will be the future. Apple’s Vision Pro or Elon Musk’s Neuralink are two examples of that today. 

But what’s in common behind virtually every major decision being made at businesses small and large—and across industries: the reliance on business analysts. 

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Business analytics involves the identification of data trends and their application to business decision-making. And with more companies relying on this data to power their biggest endeavors, business analysts are in high demand.

Based on Fortune analysis of online job board platforms LinkedIn and Indeed, there are thousands of business analyst jobs open at companies small and large and across all types of industry—from McDonald’s and Lego to Amtrak and Harvard University.

With the professional on average promising close to six-figure salaries, the field is an enticing one for individuals interested in the intersection of technical skills with business acumen. Plus, they’re increasingly quintessential to a successful enterprise.

“Every business needs business hours, I always think about business analysts as a Swiss army knife,” says Yao Morin, chief technology officer at JLL.  “And you have to be curious as to running all kinds of business problems across different industries, because you are needed everywhere.”

What does a business analyst do?

While a business analyst job can sound enticing, the field centers around one main idea: problem solving. 

On the daily, a business analyst may read dashboards, interpret data, and mold data into narratives that fit into a company’s objectives. Jan Ackerman, senior vice president of global recruiting at Oracle, adds that business analysts are effective communicators and data visualizers.

For example within the recruiting arm of an organization, like Ackerman oversees, business analysts may focus on how the company can make their recruiting services faster, smarter, and cheaper.

But it’s also important to keep in mind that in reality, a business analyst’s responsibilities may differ depending on the company and your seniority. 

A junior analyst, for example, may start out by focusing on simply identifying business needs that could be benefited from analytics, and over time, you may work more with the data itself.

“Believe it or not, the analysis is the shortest part of it. The biggest part is finding the business problem, finding the value that you can add, getting and sourcing the data and understanding if the data is correct and accurate for your need,” says Devanshu Mehrotra, curriculum developer and lead instructor at General Assembly, with a background in analytics.

Mehrotra adds that an individual’s interaction with data isn’t just “playing around with data until you find something cool,”—adding value to a company is of the utmost importance. 

Ackerman reiterates this by noting that above all, business analysts’ main objective is to solve business problems.

Where do business analysts work?

To keep it simple, business analysts work everywhere, especially at large companies. And even when there may not be a namesake business analyst, it is likely that someone is performing business analyst tasks anyway.

Even the International Institute of Business Analysis admits that the exact role of those in business analysis is difficult to pinpoint. Those conducting business analyst tasks could hold titles like business analyst, project manager, business systems analyst, product owner, or consultant. 

In its 2023 Global State of Business Analysis Report, over 1 in 4 business analysis professionals reported having a title that does not fit into one of those five buckets.

How much do business analysts make?

Business analysts earn an estimated $93,482 in total pay in 2024, according to Glassdoor. But again, salary may differ based on company, location, and experience level. 

Education experience may also play a factor, especially when it comes to raises and promotions. IIBA’s report notes that 39% of business analysis professionals hold a master’s degree. 

If obtaining an advanced degree in business analytics is something for you, Fortune has narrowed the choices for you in our ranking of the best online master’s in business analytics. If you are looking for something a little less intensive, checking out a business analytics course or certification program may be an easy way to learn the ropes or upskill with the most up-to-date skills.



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