Home / Career Guides / Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst

Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst Career Guide

What is a BI analyst?

Business intelligence analysts transform data into insights that can help improve a company’s strategies and operations. This role is vital to any organization that depends on data-driven decision-making. By analyzing data trends and patterns, these professionals provide valuable insights that guide strategic business decisions, influence operational efficiency, and enhance profitability. They facilitate a greater understanding of a company’s position in the market, the effectiveness of marketing strategies, the efficiency of operations, and the satisfaction of customers.

Duties and responsibilities

BI analysts are responsible for developing and managing advanced reporting, analytics, dashboards, and other business intelligence tools. They gather and interpret data, analyze results, and provide ongoing reports, often requiring a good understanding of database design, structures, theories, principles, and practices. Close collaboration with business or management teams helps to understand and prioritize goals and information needs. Some duties involve assessing the effectiveness and accuracy of new data sources or data-gathering techniques.

Work environment

The work environment for a BI analyst is typically in an office within a company’s information systems or IT department. Their tasks are performed on computers for a significant portion of the day, including managing and manipulating large datasets and writing reports. Meeting attendance may be required to present findings or collaborate with other teams. The rise of remote work and digital collaboration tools can offer more flexible work arrangements.

Typical work hours

BI analysts generally work full-time during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. However, as with many roles in the technology and data sectors, additional hours may be required during project implementations, system upgrades, or critical business reporting periods. Flexibility is often necessary to accommodate the ebbs and flows of data analysis projects and the fast-paced changes that can occur in business environments.

How to become a BI analyst

Becoming a business intelligence analyst can be a rewarding career for those who enjoy working with data and helping businesses improve. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to follow: 

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Typical degrees for this career path include computer science, information systems, statistics, or business administration.

Step 2: Gain experience in data analysis

A significant portion of the role involves analyzing data. Work experience in analysis, formulating conclusions, and presenting findings is beneficial. These positions could be in finance, IT, marketing, or business operations.

Step 3: Learn the necessary technical skills

BI analysts often work with large databases and business intelligence software. Proficiency in SQL and knowledge of BI tools such as Tableau, Power BI, or Looker are usually required. A strong understanding of Excel and other data manipulation tools is also essential.

Here are some of the options for developing technical skills:

Step 4: Develop business acumen

A deep understanding of the business world is crucial, including how various parts of a business work together and how data can drive business decisions. This knowledge can come from work experience, academic studies, or self-directed learning.

Step 5: Obtain relevant certifications

Although not always necessary, certifications can validate skills and boost career prospects. Many options are available, including those from software providers (like Tableau or Microsoft Power BI) and more general programs like Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP).

Step 6: Apply for BI analyst positions

With the necessary education, skills, and potential certifications, it is time to apply for jobs. Ensure your resume highlights analytical skills, technical abilities, and an understanding of business operations.

Step 7: Engage in continuous learning

Business intelligence evolves, with new tools, methodologies, and best practices constantly. Continuing to learn and staying up-to-date with industry developments is crucial to success.

How much do BI analysts make?

BI analyst salaries can vary significantly depending on geographic location, years of experience, level of education, specific technical skills, and industry. The size and financial health of the company can also impact salary. Those with advanced skills in data mining, data warehousing, and BI tools can also command higher wages.

Highest paying industries

  • Financial: $108,520
  • Software: $106,650
  • Healthcare: $105,570
  • Data Processing: $105,420
  • Insurance: $104,300

Highest paying states

  • Washington: $108,340
  • California: $106,950
  • New York: $105,720
  • New Jersey: $104,610
  • Virginia: $103,820

Browse BI analyst salary data by market

Types of BI analysts

In this career guide section, we will explore the different types of BI analysts, shedding light on their unique responsibilities and areas of focus. 

Data BI analyst

Data BI analysts are primarily involved with managing and manipulating data, ensuring quality, performing mining, and developing models to convert data into actionable insights. They often work with large databases and use statistical analysis to make sense of complex data sets.

Marketing BI analyst

To develop strategies, marketing departments often rely on business intelligence to analyze customer data, market trends, and the competitive landscape. These analysts help businesses understand their target audience, gauge a campaign’s effectiveness, and predict future trends.

Financial BI analyst

Financial business intelligence analysts look at revenue, expenses, cash flow, and other data to provide forecasts, budgets, and insights to enhance financial performance.

Operations BI analyst

Operations analysts use BI tools to analyze data from production, logistics, supply chain, and other operational areas to identify problems, streamline processes, and enhance productivity.

Sales BI analyst

Studying sales trends, customer buying behavior, sales processes, and other relevant data can improve sales performance. Sales analysts use this information to forecast, identify high-performing products or services, and better understand customer needs.

Healthcare BI analyst

Healthcare BI analysts work with data related to patient care, medical costs, and health outcomes. They are crucial in improving healthcare service quality, reducing costs, and making informed policy decisions.

BI consultant

Consultants are external experts who advise businesses on how to use BI techniques and tools best. Their work is often on a project basis, helping companies to develop their BI capabilities, solve specific problems, or train staff.

BI systems analyst

Systems analysts focus on the technical side of BI, ensuring systems or tools are working effectively and implementing new procedures as required. They may also train staff on how to use these systems.

Top skills for BI analysts

The primary skills required for business intelligence analysts include proficiency in data analysis, expertise in BI tools, an understanding of database structures, problem-solving abilities, and excellent communication skills.

Proficiency in data analysis is fundamental, as they must be adept at dissecting large amounts of data, identifying trends, and extracting meaningful insights. This analytical expertise guides strategic decision-making and drives business growth.

Expertise in business intelligence tools such as Tableau, Power BI, or QlikView is needed to visualize data, create interactive dashboards, and provide easy-to-understand reports for stakeholders. Mastery of these tools can significantly enhance the ability to deliver impactful business insights.

Understanding database structures and languages like SQL is crucial for retrieving data from various databases. Data manipulation and query optimization skills help perform efficient data extraction and processing.

These professionals may encounter complex business problems that require data-driven solutions. Problem-solving skills such as analyzing situations, thinking creatively, and devising effective strategies help to improve a company’s processes and performance.

Lastly, excellent communication skills are necessary to present findings to stakeholders clearly and concisely. The ability to articulate complex data insights is critical for influencing business decisions and strategies.

BI analyst career path

Becoming a BI analyst begins with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science, information systems, or business administration. A strong foundation in database technology, data analysis, and reporting is vital to the role.

Upon graduation, many aspiring analysts start their careers as data or business analysts. These roles offer the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with data analysis tools and methodologies, and they provide a better understanding of how data-driven insights can influence business decisions.

To transition to a business intelligence analyst role, one should focus on acquiring practical experience with business intelligence tools like Tableau, Power BI, and SQL. Familiarity with data warehousing, ETL processes, and advanced analytical methods is also advantageous.

Once in the role, they focus on designing and maintaining solutions for their organization, creating reports, and helping decision-makers understand data to improve business outcomes.

It is essential to continue learning and developing by gaining expertise in new BI tools or methodologies, mastering advanced statistical methods, or learning commonly used programming languages like R or Python. 

With substantial experience and a solid track record, these professionals can move into senior analyst roles, or they may choose to specialize in data science or advanced analytics. Later, it is possible to move into management roles such as BI manager or director, overseeing a team and setting the strategic direction for BI in the organization.

One of the significant trends in the field is the exponential growth of data and the increasing importance of using that data to drive business strategy. Adopting AI and machine learning techniques to automate and improve data analysis is also a significant trend. With the rise of self-service BI tools, the role is evolving to include more data governance and data literacy responsibilities. Those who can navigate these tools, utilize advanced analytics techniques, and effectively communicate complex data insights will be in high demand.

Employment projections for BI analysts

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes BI analysts under the “Management Analysts” category. The BLS projects that employment for management analysts will grow by 11% through 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the ongoing need for organizations to improve efficiency and control costs. The increasing importance of data in decision-making suggests that the demand for analysts could be even higher. Those with a strong understanding of data analysis tools, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and excellent communication skills should have the best job prospects.

BI analyst career tips

Stay up-to-date with industry trends and BI tools

Business intelligence is an ever-evolving field. Keeping current with trends, techniques, and technologies, such as new data analytics tools, data visualization techniques, or emerging concepts in predictive modeling and machine learning, enhances skills.

Embrace the power of storytelling

Being able to tell a compelling story with data is a crucial skill. Learn to transform raw data into meaningful insights and present them in an engaging, understandable way to various stakeholders. Compelling storytelling can significantly impact decision-making processes in an organization.

Develop strong business acumen

While technical skills are crucial, understanding the business environment in which you operate is equally essential. Strive to know the industry, the competitive landscape, and the company’s specific business problems. 

Improve your data visualization skills

Visual data presentation can make complex information easier to understand. Develop skills in data visualization to provide stakeholders with clear insights to inform decision-making.

Pursue continuous learning

The field of business intelligence is rapidly evolving, so continuous learning is vital. Develop skills by:

  • Taking online courses in data science, business analytics, or similar subjects
  • Earning a certification in a BI tool such as Tableau, Power BI, or SAS
  • Attending industry conferences or webinars

Build a professional network

Networking is a vital part of professional growth. Here are some professional associations to consider:

  • International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA)
  • The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI)
  • Business Intelligence Group (BIG)

Develop strong communication skills

You must often explain complex data concepts and insights to non-technical stakeholders. Effective communication skills help to convey findings clearly and persuasively, ensuring insights lead to action.

Foster cross-departmental relationships

Business intelligence insights can impact all areas of an organization. Building solid relationships with colleagues in different departments gives a broader perspective on the organization’s goals and challenges.

Embrace a problem-solving mindset

Analysts often need to troubleshoot data issues, solve analytical problems, and find innovative ways to convey complex information. Developing strong problem-solving skills can significantly enhance effectiveness in these areas.

Stay organized and detail-oriented

Large amounts of data and multiple projects are often managed simultaneously. Strong organizational skills and attention to detail will help to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

Where the BI analyst jobs are

Top companies

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • IBM

Top states

  • California
  • Washington
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Dice
  • Monster


What qualifications are needed to become a BI analyst?

Typically bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or business administration. Some positions may require a master’s degree. An understanding of data analysis and business intelligence tools, SQL databases, and business operations is required.

What kind of training does a BI analyst typically undergo?

Training typically includes learning to use business intelligence and data visualization tools, SQL databases, and data analysis techniques. BI analysts may also receive training on understanding processes, project management, and effective communication. This training often occurs both in formal educational settings and on the job.

What are the essential skills for a BI analyst?

Critical skills include solid analytical abilities to analyze data and generate insights, proficiency in data analysis and business intelligence tools, excellent communication skills to present findings, and a good understanding of business operations. They should also be able to work collaboratively and have strong problem-solving skills.

What does a typical day look like for a BI analyst?

A typical day may involve meeting with users to understand their data needs, designing and implementing data analysis solutions, creating reports or dashboards, and presenting findings to stakeholders. Other tasks include maintaining and troubleshooting existing tools or working on projects to improve business intelligence capabilities.

What are the primary responsibilities of a BI analyst?

BI analysts design and implement data analysis solutions to help businesses make informed decisions. Tasks may include creating data models, developing reports or dashboards, and presenting data-driven insights to stakeholders. The role may also include maintaining and troubleshooting BI tools and assisting users in understanding them.

What industries employ BI analysts?

Employment is available across various industries that rely on data to make business decisions, such as technology, finance, healthcare, and retail. 

What role does a BI analyst play in decision-making processes?

BI analysts play a crucial role in decision-making by providing data-driven insights. They analyze data, develop reports or dashboards for presentations, and help stakeholders understand data implications.

How does a BI analyst collaborate with other professionals?

Collaborative work occurs with business users to understand their data needs, IT professionals to maintain and troubleshoot business intelligence tools, and managers or executives to present data-driven insights. They might collaborate with data scientists or engineers on larger projects.

What challenges do BI analysts often encounter?

Challenges can include working with large, complex data sets, meeting the varied needs of different business users, and keeping up with rapid technological changes. Communicating complex data findings effectively to non-technical stakeholders can take time and effort.

How does a BI analyst stay updated with new technologies and methods?

Initiatives for staying updated include attending industry conferences and seminars, joining professional organizations, and enrolling in continuing education. Other options include subscribing to relevant publications, participating in webinars, or pursuing additional certifications in the field.