42 Reasons To Start a Business Analyst Career

Are you exploring a career in business analysis? Do you wonder if the career is a good fit for your interests and experience? Would you like to know if pursuing a career as a business analyst is worth it to you?

In what follows, I’ll walk you through 42 reasons a career in business analysis could be a good fit for your skills, experiences, and qualifications.

You Want To Unleash Your Passion For

#1. Problem Solving. If you are like me, you get very frustrated when being dragged through a poorly thought-out process. (Yes, as irrational as I know it is, I’ve found myself talking irritably to automated phone prompts that leave me at a meaningless dead end.)

#2. Making the World a Better Place. If you can solve even just a few problems and help a few people understand each other better, you’ll have done your good work for the day.

#3. Seeing Through Great Ideas. You might not be the one with the best idea, but you know a great idea when you see one. And you are motivated to see through that idea when everyone else’s attention has moved on to the next great thing.

#4. Helping People Communicate. You always seem to sense when people are talking at each other but not communicating with each other. And your at your happiest when jumping into the discussion to clarify things.

You Are

#5. A bit of a know-it-all. You just seem to get it, but you don’t let it go to your head.

#6. A bit like Columbo. You always have just “one more question.” And yes, it often seems like a dumb one. (It’s not.)

#7. A bit of a preservationist. The idea of reading through meeting notes from 6 months ago might not take you into the upper orbs, but it does get you a wee bit excited, especially when you find the precise bullet point that reminds everyone why you threw that idea out last time, saving an hour of repetitive discussion.

#8. A bit like a “people whisperer.” You understand what others are saying when most of the others seem to be a bit dumbfounded. (You can just keep the secret that it’s all in asking the dumb questions to yourself.)

#9. A bit like a 2-year-old. Always asking why, why, why. (Although good BAs ask why with finesse, something we teach you how to do in our Essential Elicitation Skills course.)

#10. A bit difficult or obstinate, although you might not admit it. You are always looking for the best and staying true to the best.

(And if you are checking more off than you are eliminating at this point, you are probably want to get in on our free step-by-step BA career planning course for getting started as a business analyst.)

You Want

#11. To build on your deep business experience, whether as a subject matter expert, technical writer, project manager, sales person or recruiter, just to name a few possibilities. All of this experience you have adds up to something and has prepared you to be a great business analyst.

#12. To build on your technical expertise, whether as a programmer, software architect, or quality assurance engineer.

#13. To do something big and  make an impact, but you don’t want to be a manager. Or, like me, you’ve been a manager and decided it wasn’t the best fit for you.

#14. To drink from a fire hose. The idea of learning a lot of new stuff in a relatively short period of time is exciting.

#15. The money. Given that the average salary of a business analyst in the U.S. is over 80K/year, many professionals are attracted by the prospect of a nice pay increase once they solidify their BA career.

You’d Rather Not

#16. Be in the conflict. Sure, you could take a side but you would much rather step aside and help conflicting stakeholders weigh the pros and cons and reach an amicable conclusion instead.

#17. Waste resources. Something inside cringes from the inside out when you see an army of your companies staffing resources working on the wrong thing.

#18. Mess things up.

#19. Be outsourced. Because BAs need to be close to the business, their roles tend to be safer from outsourcing and off-shoring initiatives. That’s why we see a lot of developers and quality assurance professionals looking into business analysis careers.

#20. Do whatever it is you are doing now, which is not business analysis.

#21. Manage the implementation of the project. You like finding the solution to the business problem but are content to leave the implementation details to someone else.

#22. Be on call. While many IT roles require some degree of weekend or evening work, a typical business analyst role allows you to turn off your cell phone and keep a fairly standard workday.

You Like To

#23. Write on the white board. We BAs get up and draw on the white board…a lot!

#24. Facilitate meetings. Especially working, productive meetings where everyone leaves feeling like their time was well spent.

#25. Spend a fair amount of time working independently, maybe as much as two thirds of your day.

#26. But you also like to work with people. If you had to spend the other third of your day all alone working on some technical problem or doing repetitive work, you might just pack up your things and quit.

#27. Change things. And make sure that when you make a change, there are no unexpected negative impacts.

#28. Learn how things work. You are naturally curious and like to figure things out.

#29. Continuously improve. No matter how good things look today, you know you and your organization can do better. (This is called business process improvement.)

You Are Willing To

#30. Learn to present big ideas to executives, since that’s where the future of business analysis is headed.

#31. Help drive change in organizations, whether that means sitting down with the customer service rep to understand their process or working with the VP to reorganize their department.

#32. See the big picture. You don’t get lost in the forest. You pick your head up often to see where you are at and guide your team through it.

#33. See the details. But you know that some trees are important, or important to some people. So you don’t lose track of important details either.

You Like People And

#34. You like the idea of working with lots of different people, at all levels of the organization.

#35. You want to help others by making their work more enjoyable and productive.

#36. You want to help others solve problems.

#37. People tend to come to you with their problems, because they know you’ll find a way to help.

#38. You have deep respect for what every person brings to a project.

You Care About Your Future

#39. You know competencies matter. Even if the BA profession shriveled up and died tomorrow, (it’s not) the competencies you’ll build as a business analyst will make you more valuable to our increasingly inter-connected and fast-changing organizations.

#40. You want to build timeless skills. You might want to take some time off in a few years (to raise children, take care of parents, take a long sabbatical) and you want to be able to jump back into a profession with a relatively timeless skill set.

#41. Job Security. You are looking for some job security and see the evidence everywhere that business analysis is a growing profession. (You are smart, it is.)

#42. You are searching for a new job and have realized that most of what you’ve done in the past sounds a lot like what keeps showing up in business analyst role descriptions. It’s time to jump on the bus! (And you probably want to read more about the business analyst job search process too.)

>>Are You Ready to Hit “Go”?

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Comments

  1. Dave Schrenk says:

    This is scary … how do you know me so well:-)

  2. Hahaha! Like Dave and Lisa I totally identified with this list. Especially #6.

    “One last thing.”
    – Lt. Columbo

    So like me! :-)

    • I am with Dave, Adriana and Lisa.

      The job security (#41) is very true for me. I have been contracting on 3 month contracts for a few years now and I have never been out of work!

      Great post.

      Alexandra

  3. Cedric Garrett says:

    This is an excellent list!! Just as the previous commenters, I feel like you see right through me! How lucky we are to have a dream job that actually fulfills a purpose.
    Fortunately for me, it was my former boss who recognized how great a fit I was for the Business Analyst position at our company and recommended I look into it. Not sure how long it would have taken for me to find it on my own, even though I’ve been searching for it all along.
    How can you get this list out to more people who have yet to realize their dream job is out there? (They would not be visiting this website)

  4. Thanks Lisa and Adriana!

    Cedric, That’s a great question. I don’t have a great answer. You mention you were searching for the answer before your boss presented the option to you. What were you looking for and where were you looking? Maybe that will help all of us share this with more people like you. :-)

    • Cedric Garrett says:

      I knew I wanted to work as a consultant, and potentially use that experience to propel me to a C-level position. I used to work in banking, and in that sector, I was eyeing Retail Operations. Other than that, I was not really sure how to formally get from being a analytical, jack-of-all trades, people whisperer to a highly sought after independent consultant. I knew that I had to continually pick up new skills and stretch my talents, but there was no clear roadmap.

  5. Susan Snider says:

    I am many, if not all, the things on your list. This reinforces my decision to pursue Business Analysis. Thanks Laura!

  6. Laura, my experience was similar to Cedric’s. Except that I was an IT business consultant in Brazil, and when I moved to the U.S. and a consulting company asked me to go talk to them, I described my work and the president of the company said, “Oh, you are a business analyst”.

    When I start to read the BA job descriptions she had (talking about software process improvement, business process automation, investigating business problems and proposing a solution, etc.), I saw she was completely right, as they reflected my work experience.

    Like you, I have no idea how to reach out to people in the same situation but not lucky enough to have someone to call their attention to the “BA role”, but it’s definitely a great idea from Cedric to keep in mind this untapped audience for Bridging the Gap ;-).

  7. Janet Wood says:

    Thanks for a great article, Laura. Like many others, it feels like you know me well.

    I am currently mentoring a team of junior BAs. I would like to use your article to help them to look at themselves and answer the question, “Am I ready to be a BA?”. May I do that? Would you be interested in an on-going report of how they are doing in their adoption of this new role?

    • Hi Janet,

      Yes indeed – you could print the article out or send your BAs to a link on this page. If you’d like to do something more (like create an internal copy of it), please get in touch via email (use the contact page) and we can discuss.

      I would definitely be interested in an ongoing report. It sounds like a great topic for a blog post or a series!

  8. Oh validation… you are a seductive thing indeed. I’m so grateful for this post, it’s succinct and specific but also friendly. It is a reminder that it is okay to be excited about work and career and learning and helping people, communicating with people and being someone who facilitates awesomeness.

  9. Cathryn says:

    I am on the verge of graduating from university and in the process of deciding between an accounting or business analyst graduate position and this article has been invaluable. It is the last piece of the puzzle for me. Like the other people commenting I read this article and felt it had been written specifically for me. Thank you for putting me on the path of what will hopefully be a long and happy career as a business analyst :)

  10. Michelle Swoboda says:

    Laura, well said and listed. I love it when articles validate my love for business analysis.

  11. Wow. I’ve been struggling with the choice of going into mgmt (really not my personality) or taking a BA job. Until now! Thank u. This has helped verbalize a lot of what I want in a career but was struggling to put into words myself.

  12. I just read your 42 reasons…aloud to my spouse. She said, “it sounds like you’re reading your horoscope”. I have always felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole until I read this.

    Oddly enough, I have been job hunting. I hold two degrees and have felt that I am no better off than if I had no formal education.

    I found myself wide awake at 4 a.m. today and unable to get back to sleep. Something was nawing at me so I pulled out the laptop and began writing. This led me into rewriting my resume and cover letter. What I realized, as I wrote down “all of my work history”, is that I have been doing these things you are talking about for a good number of years without the title, without the pay, and by it being called other names (titles). Here is an excerpt from my rough draft re-written cover letter:

    For example, at Xxxxxx Xxxxxx we created a new child company, Xxx Xxxxxx Xxxx, for producing secondary structural steel members to replace our dependence on specialty vendors. Our flat coil product was purchased from overseas markets with a lead-time of approximately six months. As a new company, Xxx Xxxxxx Xxxx had no historic data for estimating future raw material requirements. As a consequence Xxx Xxxxxx Xxxx kept running out of flat coil and we had to purchase stock from our competitors at higher prices.

    To solve this dilemma I collected data from current job files and historic data from the previous five years job files for secondary structural members. Combining this data allowed me to create a spreadsheet depicting cyclical demand. Because of the current economic conditions I was able to adjust projections through a secular trend analysis (The secular trend being the rise and fall of the economic boom we were exiting). After reviewing the spreadsheet our VP of Sales assigned me the responsibility of updating the projections each week for the Board of Directors. This eliminated running short of raw material and panic buying; created greater autonomy; and increased company profits.

    And now, to come across your information through a Google search, I am floored.

    You have me sold and I am going to investigate this in more detail.

  13. Welcome to Business Analysis Mark! Thanks so much for sharing this first step on your journey. I look forward to hearing about many more and wish you the best success as a business analyst. It sounds like you have an excellent handle on putting together your career stories – I’m sure you’ll be able to discover many experiences relevant to a BA job search, should you choose to pursue that career option.

  14. And just realized I missed many, many comments on this post. Busy times lately. You’ve all given me a great big smile. Thank you! To seeing ourselves through fresh eyes!!

  15. Hi Laura
    My name is Annah and from South Africa. I don’t even know where to begin. I have a BCom in Tourism, working for my department lead me to want to know all the workings of government. So I transferred to the Strategic Planning unit of the same department. I was there for four years and I discovered that I know almost all there is to know and solved most of the issues that were a thorn for me coming in to the unit. I was transferred to the Transformation Unit where I dealt with diversity management, change engagement and employment equity issues. I then realized that what I was passionate about was solving problems period! The department restructured and I was moved to the Risk Management unit. That’s where I am still working now and its been a little over four months. That’s when I realized that I was now on the path of trying to find my dream. I am in the process of migrating to Canada and as I was checking out career prospects. I bumped into one of the sites advertising for a BA position. I had never had of a career of “BA”, so I looked out of curiosity. As I was reading it, it was more than a light bulb moment. I felt like I had finally come home. A little tear sort of like formed in the corner of my eyes because at that moment, I never knew there were words or a title that could describe the work I was looking for. Business Analysis is the perfect fit, I fit all the qualities that you profiled here. My life made sense reading this. There was a time I felt frustrated because I though it meant that I give up too quickly or that I don’t have direction in life about my career. You have just confirmed that I am not crazy. Thank you for that. I have decided to finally pursue this when I get to Canada even if it means starting at the lower end of the barrel. Thank you, thank you!

    • Welcome Annah,

      You have eloquently put into words what so many of us are discovering. Yes, there really is a “Title” for people like us.

      This past Monday Laura’s book, “How to Start a Business Analyst Career” arrived. I am so impressed at how well written it is. It gives an excellent overview of the BA role. It should be required reading for anyone considering becoming a BA.

      What additionally impresses me about Laura’s book is that it is eerily like I am reading a story about me. I would like to know your thoughts after you read it.

      Best wishes

  16. Thanks for sharing your story Annah. I agree that the book How to Start a Business Analyst Career is a great place to start and get your bearings. (And Mark, thanks so much for the recommendation, I’m glad the book is helping you solidify your plan forward!)

    You can find out more about the book and various purchasing options here:http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/become-a-business-analyst/

  17. Hi Mark

    Thank you so much for the response and the recommendation. Will get the book and update you about progress.

    Hi Laura
    Just many thank yous for taking the time to write these blogs. Had it not been for your passion and sacrifice, I would still be clueless.

  18. Kristen Modesto says:

    Wow! I felt like I was in college realizing all the things I have thought about are an actual study/profession. Thanks for putting validity to characteristics and understanding how identifying traits help propel you in, whatever your profession. Loved the info. Opened new tabs to read your links. Signed up for your newsletter and email course. TYTYTY! :)

  19. Like everyone else on here, this lists describes me. And it was this very list, after colleagues suggested I look into the BA profession, that propelled me to actively make it happen. I will start me new career as a Business and Systems Analyst in the New Year!

    Thanks Laura!
    :)

  20. Allwyn Shelke says:

    lollzz!!! I agree with all of those points. N they are applicable to me. how is it?

  21. Amazing….I am new to this profile and while reading I recollected many things which are similar to what you said, also made me smile every time i matched a point. I am sure your 42 reasons would help me shape up my career.
    Thanks a lot.

  22. Hi Laura

    First some background: I am a seasoned professional (started my military career as Naval Officer in 1978). I am in the third stage in my career, which covers: the military (1978 – 1995); corporate roles (1995 – 2005); and interim manager/management consulting roles, since 2005. My areas of expertise are programme, project and change management and quality management, Process Improvement and BPR. In the past I held some senior managerial positions (up to Director level in two major blue chip corporations). I rarely post comments for articles on the internet.

    I read through the “42 Reasons To Start a Business Analyst Career” and ticked 40 out of the 42 (I just had a question mark regarding the other 2). I assume that anyone reading my comments might wonder: why would somebody who has worked in multiple industries, corporate structures and senior roles would consider working, at this late stage of his professional life, as Business Analyst? (This is a role that is considered, by some, as “low” or “junior” in the corporate and professional “food chain”? The answer is: I find it refreshing and interesting and will help me go back to work after a serious medical incident I experienced in mid-May 2012 (it took me six months after coming out of the hospital to recover and be fit for returning to work). I am currently going through the vetting process for a Senior BA role with a major financial institution in the UK and, hopefully, will sign the contract and start the new role in early January 2013.

    I have read several articles that Laura has publisized on the internet and found them very interesting, useful and uplifting – lots of practical advice. Laura thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with others aspiring to become Business Analysts.

    • Welcome to business analysis, Stratos. I agree with Michelle about the role growing in prominence. And we are seeing many former manager/directors finding their way into business analysis positions as it can be a good fit for some of the aspects they liked best about management. I myself followed this path about 4-5 years ago.

  23. Michelle Swoboda says:

    Hi Stratos,
    I know you addressed your comments to Laura however your story caught my eye. I believe that your background qualifies you to be a great analyst. You have the full picture that some people starting out will need to grow. I personally do not think the BA role is low in the food chain – the role is becoming more important to companies. They are finding the value an analyst can bring.
    Good for you and best of luck on your new career. I hope you love it as much as I do.
    Michelle

  24. Hi Laura,
    Incredibly but I could fit in most of them. Curious is that I’m just shifting from an IT career to a Project Manager focus on Business Strategy and Operations. But I’ve never thought about a BA possibility, which seems to be the middle position. This reinforces my decision to learn more about it; start going trough your weekly training and maybe further later on… So exciting! Thanks :)

  25. Kankipati Nagavarma says:

    Hi Laura,

    I just Started my Carrier as B.A.
    I feel like you see right through me!
    I just Felt,I am so lucky to have a dream job that actually fulfills a purpose.

    That a Great Work!!! It would be Really useful for the starter to understand what they are..For the Person About to start their carrier as a B.A it would really show whether they will fit into this role or not..

    Thanks A Lott !!!Loving your Blog…
    Almost Addicted to all to read all Your posts and Adriana Beals. from 2 days since I have followed this Blog..
    Thank You Once Again for your advice’s…

  26. Thank you both Camila and Kankipati and best of luck in your business analysis careers!

  27. Geez, Laura, you are answering all my questions at one-go.