How Do I Know If I’m Qualified to Be a Business Analyst?

Are you exploring a career in as a business analyst? Do you find yourself wondering if your skills and experience are relevant to a business analyst role? Would you be interested in learning about how qualified you are to be a business analyst?

We’re going to talk about how to know if you are qualified to be a business analyst, but first I’m going to share a funny story with you.

(Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my step-by-step BA career planning course (it’s free) that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career. The course will help you dig deeper into each of the concepts outlined below.)

Just last week, the night before my birthday, I walked down the short flight of stairs after putting our daughter to bed. I smiled at my husband. He was making an odd expression. I continued to look more deeply at him to figure out why.

I walked over to where he was sitting and said, “What’s that goofy face for?”

He says, “You didn’t see it, did you?”

Me: “See what?”

He shifts his eyes back toward the stairs. On the ledge we have right in front of our stairway were a dozen yellow roses – laying out in plain sight.

I couldn’t believe I had completely missed them. For a split second, I even starting thinking that just maybe my husband tele-ported them there, but then I remembered the laws of physics and found my own eyes to be the culprit.

I was looking at my husband and his funny expression instead of what was right in front of me.

This same sort of thing happens to all of us, all of the time. We often don’t see what can be obvious to other people or even what other people expect we should obviously be seeing. In all the work I do with professionals transitioning into the BA profession, the most prevalent problem I see is that they overlook significant relevant and transferable skills from their own career background.

As a result, their answer to the question, “Am I qualified to be a business analyst?” is a resounding “no” when it should be a “yes” or at least a “some of the time”. (And as we’ll see in a bit, some of the time can be a very effective path to business analysis.)

Today, I’d like to help you see the bouquet of roses waiting for you on the ledge at the bottom of the stairs. And to do that we need to look at the concept of transferable skills.

What are Transferable Business Analyst Skills?

Transferable skills are skills that you’ve built through experiences in your past roles. In the context of business analysis, transferable skills are BA techniques you’ve used in non-BA jobs or soft skills you’ve developed in perhaps unrelated roles.

Transferable skills can help you skip past entry-level business analyst positions. This is especially important because there tend to be very few entry-level business analyst positions. And those savored few entry-level positions tend to favor recent college graduates without the salary requirements of an experienced professional.

If you do have even a few years of professional experience, and a fair amount of the 42 reasons to become a business analyst resonate with you, then you have transferable skills. Getting clear and confident about them is part of your path to success as a business analyst and figuring out what roles you qualify for.

But What Business Analyst Qualifications Are Transferable?

When transitioning to business analysis, there are many areas in which to look for your business analyst qualifications. A good first step is to review our list of core business analysis skills that are important for a new business analyst and start mapping your experience to these skill areas.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect to find during this process:

  • The core business analyst skills, those you might find mapped out in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®), will help you get past the screening process for a business analyst role. Any given hiring manager tends to have a checklist of key qualifications they absolutely want to have met by a potential candidate. And even if your experience is informal, it’s likely that you can map it to a more formal deliverable or analysis technique. Use the BA terms (appropriately) in your resume and in a job interview and you’ll increase your chances of qualifying yourself for a business analyst role.
  • Although managers screen for a specific set of core business analyst skills, they often hire for soft skills, such as relationship-building and the ability to communicate with a diverse set of stakeholders from the business and technical communities. Understanding the key soft skills you bring to the table is critical. Being able to speak to specific experiences where you used those soft skills in a BA context (or close to BA context) can increase the number of BA jobs you’ll qualify for.
  • Then there will be skills that set you apart as a candidate and qualify you for specific types of BA positions. These vary widely from technical skills, to specific business domain knowledge, to experience with specific types of business applications.

What Do I Do with My List of Business Analyst Qualifications?

Even with a list of transferable business analyst qualifications in hand, a transitioning BA can get understandably frustrated. What business analyst roles do these skills qualify you for? It can often seem as if the grass is greener on the other side of the proverbial fence.

  • If you don’t have an IT background, it can seem as if every possible BA job you look at requires some obscure technical skill you have no interest in building.
  • If you do have an IT background, but no business experience, it can see as if every possible BA job you look at requires business domain experience.

Sound familiar?

While you will most likely find that the number of roles you aren’t qualified for outweigh the number of roles you do qualify for, your career background will qualify you very strongly for a specific set business analyst jobs.

For example,

  • If you have a technical background, consider BA roles that include systems analysis responsibilities or blend selected IT duties with a business analyst role. Your experience with specific technologies could qualify you for specific BA roles.
  • If you have a business background from a specific functional area (such as customer service, human resources, or finance), consider BA roles working on the business applications with which you are familiar or supporting this area of the company. Your familiarity with the terminology and processes for that functional area could qualify you for specific BA roles.
  • If you have deep experience in a specific industry, consider business analyst roles in that industry. Your understanding of the industry environment, terminology, and core processes could qualify you for specific BA roles.

To sum things up, the answer to the question about whether or not you are qualified to be a business analyst requires a bit of analysis.  First, you must discover your business analyst skills. Then you want to map them to the types of roles you see in your local job market. Most likely, you will find yourself to be very qualified for some roles, partially qualified for others, and not at all qualified for still others (and this last set will most likely be the biggest, and that’s true even for BAs with formal experience).

With this information in hand, you can decide how and if to move forward in your BA career. And keep in mind, just like those I work with on their career transitions, it’s quite possible and actually very likely that you have more relevant experience than you think, and you won’t realize what those qualifications are until you go through a skills discovery process.

>> Find Your Path Into a Business Analyst Career

How to Start a Business Analyst Career Cover

After reading and working through the exercises in How to Start a Business Analyst Careeryou’ll know how to assess and expand your business analysis skills and experience.

This book will help you find your best path forward into a business analyst career. More than that, you will know exactly what to do next to expand your business analysis opportunities.

Click here to learn more about How to Start a Business Analyst Career

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