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How to Become a BI Analyst

Are you looking for a highly-skilled position where you can create data-driven strategies to improve processes? As a BI analyst, you will help mine data, develop analytics tools, and create informed solutions to increase efficiency. To be successful in this role, you must have excellent programming, data modeling, communication, and analytical skills. 

BI analysts gather data from the company, collaborate with other teams, look at competitor data and industry trends, and develop strategies to improve the effectiveness and market share of the business. You will be an extremely important part of the team and will provide them with useful data on a regular basis.

Sample job description

Business intelligence (BI) analysts collect and use data to improve the business and increase profits by identifying areas of revenue loss and finding areas that need improvement. To be successful, BI analysts need excellent interpersonal skills, the ability to work as part of a team and independently, and strong problem solving and analytical skills. [Your Company Name] is hiring for an experienced BI analyst. If you have experience analyzing data to help improve business processes, you might be right for a role as a BI analyst. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Perform day-to-day management of and periodic reporting on the assigned areas of reporting
  • Assist in the development of enterprise-level data solutions
  • Develop business intelligence (BI) reporting from executive-level dashboards to supervisor-level targeted areas
  • Validate information contained in the reports developed and provide user introduction
  • Perform data audits of the enterprise data solution
  • Participate in and provide support for internal and external audits

Education and experience

A bachelor’s degree in finance, information technology, statistics or data analysis, as well as 2 to 3+ years of experience in the BI field are required for this position.

1+ years experience in SQL technologies like SSRS, SSIS, and SQL Server; 3+ years experience with Microsoft Office with emphasis on Excel and Access; as well as familiarity with one or more business intelligence tools such as Birst, Tableau or similar are strongly preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to create computer formulas, databases, models, and queries
  • Must be able to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions
  • Experience with ETL tools
  • Ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals
  • Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public
  • A creative mindset to create functional but well-designed data visualizations within SSRS or Tableau

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong background in SQL, T-SQL programming to be considered for this job
  • Any experience with Tableau or PowerBI
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 3-7+ years of demonstrated advanced proficiency in SQL, T-SQL development methodologies
  • Must possess effective verbal and written communication skills

Typical work environment

BI analysts typically work in office environments, where they spend much of their day sitting at a computer analyzing data. They also frequently communicate with managers and team members, attend progress meetings, and present findings and reports to clients and upper management. BI analysts usually work normal business hours between 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Some BI analysts may have the option to work remotely.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a business intelligence analyst are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays.

Freelance workers are usually able to set their own workdays and hours.

Available certifications

BI analysts can be found in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications to help them advance in their careers. Here are some certifications for BI analysts: 

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP). Transforming Data With Intelligence (TDWI) offers the CBIP certification for senior-level IT professionals in data management and business analytics. The certification demonstrates your knowledge and skill in BI technologies, best practices, solutions, and emerging trends. To be eligible, you must have 2+ years of experience in computer information systems, systems analysis, or a related field. The certification is valid for 4 years and must be renewed every three years by completing 120 credit hours of continuing education.  
  • Qlik Sense Business Analyst Certification. The Qlik Sense Business Analyst Certification is designed for those candidates who want to demonstrate their practical experience in developing applications in Qlik Sense. The exam assesses your ability to identify requirements, design applications, prepare and load data, and develop applications.

Career path

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree, students are encouraged to take courses in data architecture, database design, data mining, and data visualization. It’s also important to develop strong Excel and SQL skills before graduating. Many companies also like candidates to have real-world experience like an internship before graduation, so students have an understanding of the inner workings of a business.

Many business intelligence analysts begin their careers as data analysts, business analysts, or data report writers, so look for those positions if you’re just starting out in the field.

There are many certifications available for business intelligence analysts, including Microsoft’s Certified Solutions Expert in data management and analytics and TDWI’s Certified Business Intelligence Professional. There are also certifications available in specific computer languages like SAS.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-2051.01

2020 Employment63,200
Projected Employment in 203070,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 15% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift7,100 increase

Companies are increasingly interested in gaining in-depth data about their businesses and are turning to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to help them anticipate trends and customer behaviors. Business intelligence analysts will need to find ways to work with that technology in the coming years.

In addition, users want to know that the data they are analyzing is statistically valid and reliable. As companies become more data-driven, they are also looking for IT professionals who can teach people in core departments and other stakeholders how to interpret and use data to help them do their jobs better.

A recent survey of business intelligence users, consultants, and vendors from the Business Application Research Center showed that managing data quality and master data is the most important trend in the business intelligence field in 2020. Data discovery and visualization, as well as establishing a data-driven culture within organizations, were tied for the second-most important.