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a business analyst gathering requirements in a meeting

Business analyst careers: Breaking in, moving up

August 3, 2017

By Lisa Dare

Business analyst career paths

“Business analysts are passionate about their careers,” says David Consiglio, a TEKsystems manager who recruits BAs. “I’ve worked with a BA who loves the art of turning a story from the business into a solution. He listens to podcasts in his free time, attends every conference he can. To him and many other BAs, the job never gets old.”

With a salary range of $70,000 to $105,000, business analyst jobs fall in the high end of IT salaries. There’s also a lot of growth opportunity: a business analyst career path often leads to product management, project management or leading other BAs.

Getting the job: What employers look for

“Besides an analytical mindset and top-notch communication skills, companies are really looking for someone who is a go-getter and comfortable wearing many hats,” says Alicia Bell, a TEKsystems recruiter.

Essential skills needed to become a business analyst:

  • Experience gathering and documenting requirements
  • Excellent writing ability
  • Wireframing

Standout skills:

  • A four-year college degree
  • A CBAP or PBA – PMI certification (a must for some employers, while some don’t care)
  • SQL – the ability to query databases can add a lot to your earning potential
  • SAP and Salesforce exposure
  • Experience with Agile development
  • A technical background

What else do employers like to see on BA resumes? Consistency. “If you want to impress an employer, remove all the hybrid job titles, like PM/BA or QA/BA,” says Consiglio. “Employers prefer to see someone who commits to business analysis as a career.”

[TEKsystems offers free CBAP training for consultants]

Interview questions

“Employers are really looking for someone who can speak well and who has the ability to sell ideas, so it helps to be able to articulate your own career path and value,” says Bell.

Questions you may be asked in a BA interview:

  • Tell me about a time you’ve dealt with a difficult coworker.
  • What’s the difference between a user, functional and tech requirement?
  • What’s your process for crafting a good business requirement document?

“A great way to prepare for an interview is to review the BABOK Guide,” says Consiglio. “Hiring managers often draw questions right from its pages, and expect you to have examples of how you’ve applied its principles.”

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