If you’ve been wondering whether or not a business analyst career is really right for you, I’ve got a quick and easy litmus test you can use to figure it out (above and beyond desiring the $90,000/year salary that is average for business analysts in the US.)
The litmus test comes right from the best-selling book, How to Start a Business Analyst Career – but you can listen in for free here or read through the entire test below.
A recap of the Business Analyst Litmus Test
This exercise will help you explore whether business analysis is a suitable career choice for you. You can take this test in any way you like. I suggest writing a few sentences in your notebook or in a document saved on your computer to respond to each question.
- Do you frequently find yourself in meetings? If so, do you like them? What do you like about the meetings you do attend? If you don’t like them, why?
- How do you deal with situations where people are clearly not communicating? Do you naturally find yourself paraphrasing others in order to help them communicate?
- Do you like to write? Is your writing precise and clear?
- Are you comfortable working independently at your desk or computer for between two and three hours at a time?
- When you use a new tool or website, do you think of ways to make it better?
- In situations of conflict, do you find that you can maintain a neutral or at least a balanced position and see both sides of the argument?
- Are you comfortable drawing on a whiteboard? Do you get excited about seeing people align around a concept or idea?
- Do you find yourself intuitively understanding new systems or processes and dissecting the rules that make them work? Are you driven to understand why things work the way they do?
- Would you say that you have a thorough understanding of the organizations of which you have been a part? Do you know who is responsible for what and how things are accomplished? (Examples could include a community organization, an educational institution, a club, or a company.)
- Do you tend to enjoy the early part of projects, when there are a lot of ideas, possibility, and uncertainty? Do you like to help drive more clarity and concreteness as you transform the realm of possibility into what actually will get done?
- Do you like to ask questions? Do you seem to have a knack for asking the right question at the right time?
- Do people at work confide in you? Do people at work come to you to help them think through a problem or make a decision?
- Do you like to solve problems? Especially the really tough ones? Do you see these as occasions to strut your mental prowess and not as annoyances?
- Do you enjoy learning? Do you pick up new skills and techniques quickly?
- Do you like to support collaboration between the people you work with? Do you get more people involved in problems and solutions instead of fewer?
If you can answer yes to most of the above questions, business analysis may be a career in which you would find fulfillment. It is not a guarantee. This is not a scientific test. But it is based on my personal experience, what I love about the role, and my discussions with other business analysts who are happy with their career choice.
If you cannot answer yes to most of these questions, this might not be the right career choice for you. But it also may mean that you lack some of the prerequisite professional experience to really know for sure. You will benefit from reading a few more chapters of How to Start a Business Analyst Career to explore the profession in more depth.
11 thoughts on “The Business Analyst Litmus Test”
Hey, thanks for this. It affirmed that being a business analyst for years was a good fit. But, it’s been about a 12 year break, and I’ve been out of th work force entirely for 7, and am over 60. Is it possible to get back into this part time? Or would my skills at this point be hopelessly out of date? I find myself frequently helping friends with their small business processes, so the itch to dissect processes is still there.
Thanks Laura for the nice article/video. I am following you from past 5 years. I like points 12-15 which i do every day in my workplace.
That’s great! Sounds like you are very much a business analyst.
Well this is interesting to me. I answered an absolute YES to every single question. This is exactly what I do, I just never thought of myself as a BA. Wow!
Amazing insights Phil! And totally not uncommon either. A lot of people aren’t aware of the depth and breadth of business analysis experience they have.
Thank you for posting this test. 12 out of 15 were ‘yes’ and you showed me the areas of improvement/opportunity. Thank you once again.
I would like to improve my narrative writing skills and I will be glad if you share any best practices/information which helps in scaling up the business writing skills.
So glad to hear it Abhi. Here’s a post on IT communication that would be a good starting point. https://www.bridging-the-gap.com/10-lessons-in-effective-it-communication/
Hi Laura, I’ve been following you for many years now and it’s good to still check in and re-establish the reasons why I started my BA career! The problem with analysts is we think about everything – even our own abilities! This is a great place to check in and get the ‘I’m doing okay’ feeling. Thanks for keeping the web site going and the emails coming.
Thank you so much for sharing this Tracey. It makes my heart happy to read your comment. You are totally doing OK, and I would bet more than OK. 🙂
thanks most of my answers are yes, not i know if given the chances i will do well. thanks for the video and all the emails i get.
Sounds like you are on the right track. So glad you are enjoying the videos and emails.