5 Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst

Business analysis is a high-potential career with a growing number of opportunities and a competitive salary. To become a business analyst, you need to assess your transferable skills and experience, acquire new skills, and pursue the best opportunities give your unique experience and career background.

This guide to becoming a business analyst is going to walk you successfully through how to start a business analyst career – even if you have no official work experience as a business analyst.

Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my Quick Start to Success free workshop, that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career.

With that out of the way, onward with the 5 steps!

Step 1 to Becoming a Business Analyst – Learn about Business Analysis and Confirm Your Career Choice

Business analysts  are professionals who help organizations identify and solve problems. They analyze data and use various tools and methodologies to identify areas for improvement and to make recommendations for changes. At Bridging the Gap, we help business analysts who literally “bridge the gap” between business and technology stakeholders. This means they help ensure that the software solutions actually do what the business needs them to do and solve real business problems.

A business analyst doing this kind of work would use a technique like business process analysis to understand that business workflow and the problem to be solved. They would use use cases, wireframes, and user stories to analyze and define the software or functional requirements.

They would also use a variety of data modeling techniques to define how information is stored and flows through all the various software systems. This type of business analyst starts out a project by defining the needs or outcomes, takes it through to scope, defining the detailed requirements and collaborating with the business and technology teams to ensure a successful implementation of the requirements.

A great way to further explore the role is my book How to Start a Business Analyst Career.

Before pursuing this role, you really want to be sure it’s going to be a good fit. Check out 42 Reasons to Start a Business Analyst Career and The First 5 Signs that Business Analysis is the Career Choice for You for some clarity on whether or not you’ve found the right role for you.

Even if these checklists confirm you are on the right track, you might still not be 100% sure. A second and more concrete litmus test is to practice some BA techniques to get a feel for the role.  We’ll speak to this specifically in Step 4, so keep please reading.

Step 2 to Becoming a Business Analyst – Identify Your Transferable Skills and Leverage Points to Develop Your Positioning

As a mid-career professional, you most likely qualify for a subset of BA jobs already. (Don’t be frustrated by only qualifying for a subset – even the most experienced BAs do not qualify for all BA jobs.) Many professionals we work with are able to skip right past entry-level BA positions by identifying their transferable skills and the unique qualifications from their career backgrounds. You may also be able to open up opportunities within a slice of business analysis or in a transitional role.

Transferable skills come from experiences using business analysis techniques in a non-BA role.  And here, I share 3 real examples of transferable skills.

Whether or not you have a deep career history in business analysis, it’s likely that one or more elements of your career history give you expertise to leverage into business analysis. Whether it’s your knock-your-socks off communication skills or your deep experience in a relevant industry domain, you have a quality that potential managers are specifically hiring for.

If you are currently employed in a company that employs BAs, then your most valuable leverage point very well could be knowledge of that individual organization, the business model, and the business stakeholders.

Other factors can include:

(You might be thinking this step doesn’t apply to you. I’ve worked with many, many mid-career professionals on their career transition plans and we’ve always been able to find at least one transferable skill and career experience. More often, we’ve discovered several transferable skills and relevant experiences.)

After discovering your transferable skills and leverage points, this is a good time to update your business analyst resume to showcase how your past experience qualifies you for roles within or close to business analysis.

Step 3 to Becoming a Business Analyst– Invest in Your Business Analysis Skill Set

Most likely, you’ll need to invest in your business analysis skill set. At Bridging the Gap, we offer online business analyst training in the foundational skills you need to be successful as a business analyst.


Analysis & Communication Techniques are Both Key Sets of Business Analyst Skills

The first thing you’ll notice about The Business Analyst Blueprint is that the techniques are organized into Analysis Techniques and Communication Techniques. The Analysis Techniques are the models and templates we use as business analysts to analyze and think through the requirements. But these requirements do not get created in a vacuum. We must elicit or discover them from our stakeholders. This is why knowing the right Communication Techniques to use as a business analyst are equally important.

The key Communication Techniques for collaborating with stakeholders are:

  • Discovery Session – to discover information related to the process or requirements from business stakeholders, so the requirements represent their needs.
  • Requirements Review Session – to validate the requirements that have been captured are clear and correct.

We also consider the glossary and user stories to be communication techniques, because their primary purpose is to capture and communicate requirements-related information to various stakeholder groups.

The Key Business Analysis Techniques

The second thing you’ll notice about The Business Analyst Blueprint is that there is not just one set of analysis techniques. One of the challenges that plague way too many projects is “missing requirements.” We miss requirements either when we don’t involve the right stakeholders (i.e., apply the right communication skills) or overlook key areas of requirements because we are only looking at one view.

The Business Analyst Blueprint® – our business analyst certification program – walks you the 3 key levels of analysis that are important to fully understanding a problem and solution domain, when software is being implemented as part of the solution. These are:

When you use multiple techniques, particularly powerful analytical and visual models, you will find that you naturally see gaps that others gloss over and identify the downstream impact of a change or new solution.

The Business Analysis Process Framework

The third thing you’ll notice about The Blueprint is that there is a foundational framework underlying the techniques. This is the business analysis process, or the end-to-end approach you apply to be successful and effective on a typical business process improvement and software project.

As you leverage this process framework, you’ll gain increased recognition for the value of business analysis, and you’ll start to get pulled into more interesting projects, and be engaged earlier in the process. Here’s a video about the business analysis process framework.

And, to complete a self-assessment against these skills, we have an absolutely free business analyst skills assessment for you.

Download the FREE Business Analyst Skills Assessment

In this FREE assessment, you will:

  • Discover the essential skills to succeed as a BA.
  • Gain clarity on your strengths and transferable skills.
  • Define an action plan to expand your business analyst skill set.

>> Download the Assessment <<

Step 4 to Becoming a Business Analyst– Build Experience By Approaching Your Work with a BA Mindset

As part of the analysis you did in step 2, you may have discovered some gaps. Add these to your professional development plan and explore opportunities to fill them through volunteer positions or by building on-the-job business analyst experiences. What we see is that one business analysis task tends to lead to another, creating a virtuous cycle of new business opportunities and expanded experience.

Practice techniques such as:

As you a cultivate a BA mindset, you’ll find that business analysis begets business analysis. Once you see your first opportunity, several more sprout up right in front of you. Is a virtuous circle that can lead you to a full-fledged business analysis role, step-by-step.

Want some inspiration? Here are a few success stories of participants who built BA experience in non-BA roles:

Step 5 to Becoming a Business Analyst – Focus Your Efforts to Find Your First BA Opportunity

In time, you may qualify for a business analysis role in your organization or be in a position to propose a business analyst role in your firm. But not all job situations provide the same opportunities. Some BAs find themselves looking outside their organization for their first BA jobs. If that’s you, you’ll want to read more about our business analyst job search process.

And if your transferable skills assessment came up a bit short, you may need to explore a transitional role to lead you on the path to BA. Here we address what a future BA can learn from a technical analyst role.  And here are 13 jobs that can lead to business analysis.

This is important. As you proceed forward, it’s very easy to get caught in a rut of expending a lot of effort in activities that aren’t actually moving you closer to your goal. Do a regular check-in against these 7 signs you are making progress towards a BA career and be sure to celebrate your interim successes.

>>Plan Your Next Step with a Free Workshop

While this is a lot of information, you might be wondering exactly what steps you can take. We offer a free Quick Start to Success workshop  that will help you figure out your next step.

Click here to learn more about how to start your BA career

Yes, Buts

You might be thinking that these steps don’t apply to you because {fill in the blank here}. I’ve corresponded with hundreds of aspiring business analysts as part of my online courses and helped many successfully make this transition (just check out our list of success stories).

What follows is a list of concerns that most commonly come up and how to address them.

But what if I’m unemployed?

If you are unemployed, focus your efforts on step 2 and use the results of this analysis to update your resume and strengthen your positioning for BA jobs. If you are still not able to qualify for a small slice of business analysis roles and your timeline to find a job is short, refocus your job search on transitional roles. If your timeline is longer, you may consider investing in step 4 as a volunteer.

But what if I just graduated from college with a degree in business analysis?

If you are a recent college grad, you can still use these steps. In any given location, there are often a select few organizations that actively recruit recent college graduates into entry-level business analyst roles. Find them.

If you worked through college or actively leveraged internship opportunities, you may have adequate experience to invest some time in step 2 and qualify yourself for a role requiring 2-3 years of experience. (For more information on how this works, read Eric’s transition story – he landed a BA job just 7 months out of college.) If neither of these options works out for you, consider investing a few years in a transitional role working your way towards a business analysis, particularly focusing on step 4 above, and then working your way back through the 5 steps.

But I’m an MBA, can’t I skip these steps?

No. Your MBA might give you an extra edge in your positioning, but it’s not a silver bullet into business analysis. If you participated in real-world projects as part of your MBA, then analyze those using step 2. And also be sure to heavily leverage the professional network you built during your MBA as part of your job search in step 5.

If you pursued your MBA right after your bachelor’s, refer to my answer above. If you pursued your MBA mid-career, be sure to go through all 5 steps as it’s likely you have a lot of experience to draw from. And ask your employer for opportunities to apply your MBA and build relevant professional experiences (see step 4).

But what about business analysis training?

Good question. Look for training opportunities that help you build your business analysis skills AND expand your experience.  The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, where you can also earn your Applied Certification in Business Analysis(ACBA), offers practical, results-oriented content and learning.

You’ll leave the program with instructor-vetted work samples and real-world experience as a business analyst, along with a certification to back-up your real-world application of the key techniques.

But what if I don’t have IT skills and experience?

You don’t need to be able to code to be a business analyst! If you are going to be a BA on an IT project, you will need a technical understanding. Here’s a post describing the difference and why we see technical skills in BA jobs.

But what if I don’t have business domain expertise?

Business domain expertise is a leverage point and many aspiring BAs are very successful at leveraging expertise in a particular domain to find their first BA position. But if you don’t have expertise in a particular domain, it doesn’t mean that you can’t become a BA, it just means that you need to focus on the opportunities where business domain expertise is not such an important qualification. At times this can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But believe me, the opportunities are there. Keep working away at step 4 and putting your feelers out. An opportunity will surface for you.

>> Get Your Quick Start to Success

Earn the respect you deserve and get the insider details on how to get into a business analyst career quickly, with our free Quick Start to Success training. You’ll learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls faced by new business analysts and the step-by-step business analysis process to create predictable, consistent project success.

>> Click here to register for the free training today <<

And also, plan to join us for the next session of The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, the online certification program, where you can also earn your Applied Certification in Business Analysis. You will fill your BA toolbox with the key skills to launch your business analyst career.

32 thoughts on “5 Steps to Becoming a Business Analyst”

  1. Hi Laura Brandenburg,


    I have 2.10 years of experience in to HR-Admin,working for an IT company, now i want to change my role hr-admin to Business Analyst.initially what steps i need to take and please guide me on this. I am very interested to work or build my career as BA. I used to interact with clients they suggested me to turn as BA and also i have an interest too. I am a MBA graduate.

    Thanks and regards,

  2. Hello Laura,

    Your blog on Business Analyst was wonderful. I have done my Masters of Business Administration and have experince of 4 years as a Accounttant in mid-size firm. Please guide me how to become a BA.

    Best Regards.

    Aseem Khan

  3. Naveed Akram Malik

    Hi Laura! I am interested in becoming a BA. I am from Pakistan. I have done BS in Computer Engineering but i have never been on programming side. I have a 1 year job experience in IT Department of a bank. Provided help-desk and monitored LAN/WAN connectivity of branches.
    What do you suggest me?

  4. I have recently graduated from a Business Management Diploma and I have previous degree in Management Information Systems. I have experience with Business Intelligence tool “Cognos”with IBM as a technical analyst, I have done business analysis during my Bsc studies. yet I dnt have a real world experience yet. I have been trying to apply for a junior BA positions, and I am not sure what roles i should be focusing on to gain the neccessary experience to become a BA, any thoughts ?

  5. kamlesh gairola

    This is kamlesh m pursuing my master degree in marketing management i have been thinking for BA how could i get approached….

  6. Shaktiraj jena

    Hi Laura,

    I am working as a Business Analyst in Genpact, but I am not sure whether the kind of duties that I perform come under a Business Analyst’s role. I create Business reports for IMS Research using Excel, SQL, PL/SQL, Microstrategy, TOAD etc and send them to the stakeholders, I take requirements from various Stakeholders and then create the reports accordingly. Another part of my job is to QA them by various LEAN measures. Is this different from a ICT Business Analyst profile? If so how can I be one.
    Your Suggestion is appreciated.


  7. I am a MCA graduate and presently working as a Quality Analyst (not programming) with 1 year 6 months experience. Can you guide me about the step I should take to make my career as BA? Shall I need to learn any relevant courses for the same?


  8. Dear Laura,

    First let me give my sincere thanks to you for your marvelous book ‘How to start a Business Analyst Career’, Which I grabbed long back but failed to convey my regards to you.

    Basically I am a MBA Marketing Professional having 3+ years of rich experience in Business Development /Consulting and Marketing/Sales, in IT as well as Engineering Industries so far.

    And currently I am very passionately seeking a career opportunity in the area of Business Analysis.

    So now queries are :

    1. How I can get the first/entry level dream job in Business Analysis.. As I am a strong mechanical engineering graduate but having experiences in Engineering Software and IT industry.
    2. But not having technical exposure in IT like software platforms, Design, Coding, Testing etc.
    3. But having basic knowledge about SDLC, Onsite/Offsite Delivery Models, Offshore Models As I am dealing with International Offshore Business Development in my current profile.
    4. Are there no any Business Analysis positions for Engineering/ Operations…?? Where my knowledge of Engineering will be worth while, OR for the sake of becoming a BA I have to get used to with IT industry. Is this the only way…??
    5. According to your techniques in BOOK, I have drafted my resume with BA Skill sets and related activities, and other side I really can’t see any opportunity with my current employer to transform my profile to BA within the organization. (So only one option – Have to search new BA JoB)
    6. According to your suggestions to find relate jobs wit BA, I genuinely not seeking those opportunities either. As I am really willing to get out of this Business Development Profile, Very Desperately.
    7. Shall I need to opt for any personal BA training programs but those are very expensive in India, Is this the only way to get a BA Job…? Because I can’t afford this much cost, I have already got your book here which is very costly in India compare to States.

    I will be very obliged and thankful to you for your valuable guidance on my future career guidelines.

    Look forward your precious reply soon.


    1. Hi Kapil,
      Thank you for purchasing How to Start a BA Career and also your compliments on the book. You’ve taken a great step by drafting your BA resume with the relevant skill sets and related activities. How is your resume being received by potential employers? Are they looking for specific training? Or additional skills? If so, then I would suggest positioning yourself for a transitional role where you meet most of the qualifications as a point on your path to BA.

      You ask if there are BA positions within Engineering or Operations, I would say yes. They may have a different title, but I would imagine that the competencies of a BA would be very relevant in these industries.

      1. Kapil Pattebahadur

        Hello Laura,

        Thanks a lot for your precious reply.

        I understand from your writing that i need to search for Transitional role on the path of BA.
        As far as the responses are concerned i am getting numerous responses but all are related with my current domain i.e Business Development, Nevertheless i have cleared through my Career objective that I am looking for entry or associate level BA role.

        In order to answer your raised questions i would say, They are not looking for specific training or additional skills, The priority is, You should have pre- experience in BA. i wondered how one could get a experience with out working in the respective domain.

        I am concentrating on entry level positions but seems difficult to get, even calls for the interviews too.

        Look forward your thoughts.


  9. Hi Laura

    Does BA need to have IT background? I just finished BA training, but I don’t know how to get a BA job. I have MBA and HR degrees, what kind of BA I can be?


    1. Hi Vivian, You don’t need an IT background. Plenty successful BAs today do not have a background in IT, myself included. This post helps explain that:

      There are many types of BA roles. You might leverage your expertise in HR to get started, as domain experience can often help new BAs get started in the profession. Check out this post on industry experience for some context on that factor:


      Hope this helps! Would love to add your story to our Registry of BA Career Transitions by the end of 2012!


  10. I am a PhD (Bioinformatics) and presently working as a Bioinformatics consultant. I want to be a BA, as my training has provided me knowledge of IT as well as molecular-biology. Can you guide me about the step I should take to make my career as BA?


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    1. And if it helps, I have never done coding either! I came from a technical background, but in QA. This required a bit of technical knowledge but no coding. So I know first-hand this is possible.

      In terms of career background there’s not much that’s going to hold you back from becoming a BA. It’s more important that you have the passion for it and are a strong communicator. The rest you can learn and build as part of your career path.

      I also forgot to mention my free email course on becoming a BA which should help you a lot!


      1. Thanks Laura ,

        That was quite motivating. I have subsrcibed for the news letter and the free email course.

  13. Hello Laura

    This was one of the most informative blog for me on Business Analysis. I really liked this website Bridging the gap.

    I am working as a Analyst with Bank of America Merill Lynch . My Area of operation in IT is Prime Brokerage . I support Applications that come in Prime brokerage . I have not done coding . I used to do it in my college days. However i want to become a BA . I have done interaction with business for over a period of more than 5 years. And many times understood there issues and translated them in the form of a problem to developers for a fix. And development has done that for me and business as well. Could you please help if this suits as my skill for becoming a BA ? I would like to interact further on this.

    1. Thanks for your positive feedback Shwetal! It does sound like you have done some BA like activities or at least that your prior experience as a translator will suit you well as you move into BA. I might suggest you focus on step 1 and 2 – learn more about BA and then identify your transferable experiences.

      To interact further on this, check out Launching Your BA Career: http://www.mybusinessanalysiscareer.com/landing/launch-your-business-analysis-career/ or our BA Mentoring Program: https://www.bridging-the-gap.com/business-analyst-career-mentor/

      1. Thanks Laura , i will definitely take a step to that . However , i have a question in regards to CBAP certification . Is that something mandatory if i want to move on to a BA role ?

        Also as i said earlier i have not done coding . I hope it doesnt becomes a negative point on my side .I actually dont mind going in the direction of becoming a business side BA . Is it a good idea please let me know your views on it ?

  14. The only one I am having trouble on is step #4, Building My Personalized Roadmap. I really could use more info on this. It sounds easy enough, but it’s not. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  16. Truly and well said Laura…This article is an eye-opener and self realizing to any person who wants to jump to the band wagon of ‘Business Analyst’.!!

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