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How to Become a BI Developer

If you have excellent computer skills, as well as strong analytical, troubleshooting, and problem-solving skills, becoming a BI developer is a great way to start your career. BI developers collect data and analyze it to make informed decisions and solve problems. As a BI developer, you will need excellent communication skills to train users on software and to present data to stakeholders within the company.

This position requires a high level of understanding of enterprise data warehouses and the ability to examine and analyze that data to assist in decision-making within an organization. You should have excellent technical troubleshooting skills to identify and resolve issues in data solutions.

Sample job description

Business intelligence (BI) developers design, develop, and maintain business intelligence solutions, maintain and support data analytics platforms, and conduct unit testing and troubleshooting. BI developers should be analytical and have excellent communication skills. They also have an acute business sense and strong problem-solving skills. [Your Company Name] is currently looking for an experienced BI developer. As an ideal candidate, you have an in-depth understanding of database management systems, online analytical processing, and ETL frameworks. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop, maintain and support ETL processes using tools such as Microsoft SSIS
  • Create reports and extracts from SQL server and other disparate data sources
  • Create outstanding code in all tiers: user interface, business logic, data access, and database
  • Develop high availability and highly scalable applications
  • Create prototypes and proof of concepts
  • Ensure solutions are released properly, and each release is documented
  • Translate business requirements and problems into innovative technical solutions
  • Participate in user research and usability testing to help improve the user experience
  • Create and maintain unit and functional tests

Education and experience

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, MIS, or a related field is required for this position, as well as three to five years of experience in the business intelligence field.

Companies also strongly prefer candidates with a minimum of two years of back-end programming experience in languages such as C# or Java as well as three years or more experience in SQL technologies like SSRS, SSIS, and SQL Server.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Possess and demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills to ensure issues are handled in a fair, consistent manner
  • Ability to think logically and troubleshoot issues
  • Motivated to learn new business and technical concepts
  • Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists
  • Deep understanding of relational database concepts with a solid knowledge of Cognos 10, SQL and PL/SQL
  • Experience with ETL tools

Preferred qualifications

  • At least 5 years of solid SAP BW programming and analysis experience
  • 2+ years of experience in BW on HANA
  • 5 years of experience in Business objects 4.2 and above
  • Expertise in WEBI, Design Studio & Lumira administration and auditing
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Typical work environment

BI developers typically work in an office environment and mostly work on a computer. They also communicate regularly with stakeholders, attend project meetings, and present findings and reports to clients and upper management. They generally work normal business hours between 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Typical hours

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

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

Available certifications

BI developers can be found in a number of industries, and many institutions offer certifications to enhance their skills and knowledge. Here are two of the best certifications for BI developers: 

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP). The CBIP certification program is offered by Transforming Data With Intelligence (TDWI) and is intended for senior-level IT professionals who focus on data management and business analytics. The certification proves your knowledge of BI technologies, best practices, solutions, and emerging trends. Requirements include 2+ years of experience in a computer-related field, such as computer information systems or systems analysis. The initial certification is valid for 4 years and must be renewed every three years after that by completing 120 credit hours of continuing education.  
  • Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate. Microsoft offers this certification for data analysts using Microsoft Power BI. Certification demonstrates your ability to prepare, model, visualize, and analyze data, and deploy and maintain deliverables. The certification is good for 2 years and must be renewed passing the latest Microsoft Power BI renewal assessment.

Career path

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree, students are encouraged to take as many courses as possible in database-related specialties, including Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SQL, and ETL. Some companies even hire candidates with two-year associate degrees in database administration, or with certificates in database management.

There are many certifications available for business intelligence developers, based on specific database software platforms. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle offer certifications on the products they make. These include Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA), Microsoft MSCE Certified Data Management and Analytics, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Data Management and Analytics, Oracle Database Certifications, and IBM Certified Database Administrator – DB2.

Business intelligence developer is not usually an entry-level position, so many employers look for candidates who have held job titles like computer or software programmer or database administrator.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1256

2020 Employment1,847,900
Projected Employment in 20302,257,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 22% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift409,500 increase

Businesses are increasingly looking for more sophisticated software scripts, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) so they can get even more in-depth data about their company. Business owners are hoping that machine learning and AI can help them look at trends and anticipate where customers’ tastes and opinions are heading.

Also, business intelligence developers are required to become more intimately aware of their companies’ data and how it’s collected. 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 — as well as 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 mastering data is the most critical 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.