So You Want To Be A Business Intelligence Analyst

So You Want To Be A Business Intelligence Analyst

Project profitability. Business intelligence software. Data science and analysis. Machine learning.

A number of buzzwords have cropped up in the world of business intelligence and data science, and it’s not always clear what they mean and offer to businesses. But if you do have an interest in this world, then you know they’re associated with highly lucrative, in-demand careers. 

One of those careers is that of a business intelligence analyst. The BI sphere has evolved and grown at an unprecedented rate, as more and more businesses across sectors recognize the importance of making data-fueled decisions. According to Indeed, nationwide, BI analysts can expect to earn an average of $90,510 per year, with many earning far more than that, well over $100,000 salaries. 

BI analysts have an enormous impact on the viability and success of companies of all sizes and types. And they have proven pivotal to a wide range of these businesses. 

Are you interested in a fast-paced, rapidly-growing, well-respected career? Here’s what it takes to become a business intelligence analyst. 

What Does A Business Intelligence Analyst Do? 

While the BI analyst role varies from company to company, usually, they lead efforts to acquire, compare, examine, translate, and report on data. 

More specifically, the BI analyst: 

  •  Uses data tools and business intelligence software to extract data from a wide variety of sources
  • Stores, maintains, and updates data within databases.
  • Examines data from competitors and performs market research
  • Cleans data
  • Compares company data to that of competitors to assess market viability
  • Perform data analysis
  • Identifies methodologies for gathering and reporting on data more efficiently
  • Compiles reports on insights they have gleaned from the data 
  • Makes recommendations to business leaders on actions to take
  • Stays on top of trends in their industries

How Do You Become A Business Intelligence Analyst? 

Becoming a business intelligence analyst requires a certain level of education, experience, and skills. This is the typical path — although it’s not set in stone! 


At a minimum, you should generally have a bachelor’s degree. While a range of disciplines can be applied to the business intelligence analysis field, often, candidates receive a bachelor of science in computer science (CS), business administration, statistics, mathematics, data science, engineering, accounting, finance, economics, or a related field.  

To increase your earning potential and job perspectives in the BI, consider earning a master’s degree as well. There are specific Master of Science in Business Analytics degrees that are directly applicable to the field, but if you want to expand your options and possibilities, you can also earn of Master of Business Administration (MBA). 

No matter what your particular degree, whichever program you choose should cover areas like data analysis and science, business administration, statistics, and other topics central to the BI analyst role. 


After earning your degree or degrees, you will need to gain experience in the field. An internship in the niche will help prepare you for a more permanent entry-level role and allow you to build the skills you need to succeed in your career. Some candidates also work in related fields, such as information technology, business administration, management, finance, and others.

As you gain experience in the field, many BI analysts earn relevant certifications to help them learn and hone skills and land more senior positions in the field. Recognized certifications include: 

  •  Certified Business Intelligence Professional
  •  Certified Business Intelligence & Data Analyst
  •  IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11
  •  Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
  •  Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
  •  QlikView Business Analyst
  •  SAP Certified Application Associate
  •  SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics
  •  Tableau Desktop Certified Professional
  •  Tableau Server Certified Professional

Consider earning certifications in skills and tools that are central to your role as a BI analyst, tool. You might, for instance, earn certifications in computer programming, including specific coding languages, or business administration. 


It probably comes as no surprise that professional BI analysts need a combination of strong technical and soft skills. The good news is that you can develop and build upon many of these qualifications, even while you’re working in the business intelligence space. 

Hard or technical skills — competencies that must be learned, honed, and applied to specific areas — include data-gathering, managing, and presentation techniques and strategies like: 

  •  Data analytics (descriptive and predictive)
  •  Data visualizations
  • Data mining
  • Data security
  •  Database design
  • Data architecture
  • Data collection methods
  • Data interpretation

Statistical and related skills are also important. They include: 

  • Statistic analysis
  • Forecasting
  •  Testing
  • Statistical modeling
  • Regression analysis
  • Correlation and causation

Additionally, BI analysts should know how to use the tools of the trade, including: 

  • SQL
  •  Extract, transform, load (ETL)
  •  Data storage technology
  • Cloud computing technology
  • Hadoop
  •  SAS
  • Microsoft Power BI
  •  Tableau
  •  Excel
  • Additional dashboarding tools

Other technical skills include knowledge and the ability to leverage machine learning techniques and programming languages like Java, R, and Python. 

Soft skills — competencies that apply to many areas and aren’t specific to particular tools or techniques — are equally important in the BI landscape. One of the most important soft skills you should have is communication. You must be able to articulate your findings and listen to team members and clients. You should also be a master collaborator, working well with team members and adapting to changing circumstances. 

Additional soft skills you should have or work on building are: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Research
  • Critical thinking
  • Business acumen
  • Presentation
  •  Time management
  • Leadership

While business intelligence analysis is a complex field, one that requires extensive knowledge and education, it can be a rewarding one. Professionals can work across a huge array of fields, from healthcare to finance, information technology to government, and beyond. They will also see their value in the workplace, where they will play a critical role in helping businesses and organizations solve problems and move forward.