What is a business intelligence analyst? A key role for data-driven decisions

Oct 26, 20238 mins
Business IntelligenceCareers

The business intelligence analyst role is highly analytical and requires a balance of IT, communication, and problem-solving skills.

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Business intelligence (BI) analysts transform data into insights that drive business value. Through use of data analytics, data visualization, and data modeling techniques and technologies, BI analysts can identify trends that can help other departments, managers, and executives make business decisions to modernize and improve processes in the organization.

What does a business intelligence analyst do?

The role is becoming increasingly important as organizations move to capitalize on the volumes of data they collect through business intelligence strategies. BI analysts typically discover areas of revenue loss and identify where improvements can be made to save the company money or increase profits. This is done by mining complex data using BI software and tools, comparing data to competitors and industry trends, and creating visualizations that communicate findings to others in the organization.

Business intelligence analyst job requirements

BI analysts typically handle analysis and data modeling design using data collected in a centralized data warehouse or multiple databases throughout the organization. It’s a role that combines hard skills such as programming, data modeling, and statistics with soft skills such as communication, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Candidates need a well-rounded background to balance the line between IT and the business, and usually a bachelor’s degree in computer science, business, mathematics, economics, statistics, management, accounting, or a related field. If you have a degree in an unrelated field but have completed courses in these subjects, that can suffice for an entry-level role in some organizations. Other senior positions may require an MBA, but there are plenty of BI jobs that require only an undergraduate degree.

Business intelligence analyst job description

A typical day for BI analysts includes collecting data from sources such as industry reports, public information, field reports, or purchased findings; analyzing data to identify trends; and sharing it with the proper stakeholders. Although job descriptions will vary by company, according to a sample BI analyst job description from Indeed, general responsibilities for the role include:

  • Review and validate customer data as it is collected
  • Oversee deployment of data to a data warehouse
  • Develop policies and procedures for the collection and analysis of data
  • Create or discover new data procurement and processing programs
  • Work with IT to deploy tools for leveraging big data
  • Implement new data analysis methodologies
  • Review customer files to ensure data integrity
  • Perform data profiling to identify anomalies

Business intelligence analyst skills

To succeed as a BI analyst, you’ll need a mix of analytical and soft skills, including the following:

You will also need a range of technical skills, which, depending on the company’s tech stack, could include several of the following technologies:

  • Apache Hadoop 
  • Amazon Redshift 
  • BusinessObjects 
  • Hadoop, SQL, Python, and C# 
  • Looker 
  • Microsoft Power BI 
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) 
  • Snowflake Cloud data platform 
  • Tableau

Business intelligence analyst salary

According to data from PayScale, the average salary for a BI analyst is $73,652 per year, with a reported salary range of $55,000 to $101,000.

Salary data on similar positions includes:

Job titleSalary rangeAverage salary
Business intelligence director$89,000 to $165,000$127,872
Director of analytics$86,000 to $182,000$134,198
Senior manager business analytics$103,000 to $169,000$132,403
Business intelligence manager$78,000 to $141,000$108,068
Senior business intelligence analyst$74,000 to $125,000$95,855
Business intelligence consultant$61,000 to $124,000$82,727

PayScale also identifies cities where BI analysts earn salaries that are higher than the national average. These include San Francisco, (27.6%), Seattle (16.8%), and New York (16.2%).

High-paying business intelligence analyst jobs

According to ZipRecruiter, the best BI analyst jobs can pay up to $156,500 per year. Some of the highest-paying BI analyst jobs include:

  • SAP functional analyst: Up to $156,500
  • Tableau analyst: Up to $142,000
  • Business intelligence administrator: Up to $138,500
  • SAP business intelligence consultant: Up to $136,000
  • BI consultant: Up to 124,500
  • BI specialist: Up to $119,000

Business intelligence analyst certification

Certifications are not required to work in BI, but they can provide an edge. Some of the top BI certifications include:

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)
  • IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate
  • Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate
  • QlikView Business Analyst
  • SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.3
  • SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics
  • Tableau Certified Data Analyst
  • Tableau Desktop Specialist
  • Tableau Server Certified Associate

You can also choose to get certified in specific tools and programming languages used commonly for data analysis, such as Hadoop, Python, or R. If you notice a specific tool or framework is included on the job descriptions you’re interested in, it might be worth getting certified to improve your chances of landing an interview.

Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)

Offered by Transforming Data with Intelligence (TDWI), the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) certification is currently one of the only professional certifications available that’s specifically tailored to BI analysts. You can be certified as a Practitioner, which is the designation awarded if you score above 50% on all three exams. This level demonstrates working knowledge of relevant BI concepts, techniques, and tools. If you score a 70% or higher on all three exams, you’ll be certified at the Mastery level, which demonstrates your ability to lead a team and mentor others, according to TDWI.

To earn your CBIP certification, you’ll need two or more years of full-time experience in CIS, data modeling, data planning, data definitions, metadata systems development, enterprise resource planning, systems analysis, application development, and programming or IT management. Candidates are also required to have at least a BA or MA in information systems, computer science, accounting, business administration, engineering, mathematics, sciences, or statistics.

Business intelligence analyst resume

Resume-writing is a unique experience, but you can help demystify the process by looking at sample resumes. JobHero offers assistance and guidance for writing a BI analyst resume, with different formats and templates for workers with varying seniority, experience and education. Another site, VelvetJobs offers guides to tailoring your resume, a resume builder, resume templates and examples of successful BI analyst resumes.

Business intelligence analyst interview questions

Before your next BI analyst interview, it’s worth searching online to get a sense for questions you will likely be asked. Glassdoor aggregates interview questions for specific job titles and some of the top interview questions and tasks for BI analysts include:

  • Performing a data query in the interview
  • Explaining past data challenges and how you overcame them
  • Describing the different parts of an SQL statement
  • Demonstrating your knowledge of data modeling, blending, and joining
  • Hands-on testing using the company’s actual data tables to test your ability to find specific trends
  • Definitions or knowledge of common BI analyst terms
  • Questions about popular BI tools, programming language and software
  • Brain teasers that show your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Real-time problem-solving exercises using Excel or other BI tools.

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