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Careers in business intelligence

By Cooper Nelson

At a glance

  • Many industries rely on business intelligence, which translates to opportunities in a variety of fields.
  • Business intelligence jobs include computer systems analyst, financial analyst, management analyst, market research analyst and operations research analyst.
  • Business intelligence experts often rely on technical skills, software knowledge, communication and critical-thinking skills.
  • The path to a career in business intelligence can vary, but online business degrees can provide essential knowledge and skills.

Business intelligence (BI) focuses on collecting, organizing and analyzing data related to a company’s activities.

Business intelligence and business analytics are closely related, cross-functional disciplines. BI generally refers to the entire system used to collect and transform data into useful insights. Analytics, meanwhile, encompasses the specific data-science methodology within that system, which business analysts employ to find and interpret information from raw data.

Thanks to digitized, internet-connected operations, every type of company produces data. It’s no surprise, then, that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for qualified BI analysts will increase 23% between 2021 and 2031.

The widespread adoption of BI means there are many specialties to choose from depending on your interests, skills, experience and knowledge. Here’s a look at a few business intelligence careers you can pursue if you have a data-based or business-related degree.

Types of business intelligence jobs 

Computer systems analyst  

A computer systems analyst collects data and studies IT-related processes for a company. In this career, you look at existing systems and find ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. You can also deploy new tools, such as AI software, to automate specific functions. 

As a computer systems analyst, you might suggest and test new systems, processes or hardware to see if it offers improvements over the current IT structure. You then create presentations and instructions so that non-technical staff can effectively use these tools.

In this career, you can earn between $60,680 and $158,010, according to BLS. You typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field like computer science.

Because almost every industry relies on digital infrastructure for daily operations, the demand for specialists in this field is projected to grow 9% between 2021 and 2031.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Financial analyst  

Financial analysts are data analysts who study the money-related aspects of a business. In this BI-based career, you may examine current financial statements and find areas for improvement. As a financial analyst, you can focus on investments, asset allocation or the expenditures of daily business operations.

Though you can qualify for a financial analyst job with an accounting degree, the two professions are different. Accountants focus on record-keeping, reporting, compliance and budgeting. Financial analysts, on the other hand, look for ways to increase profits, decrease spending and invest income and assets more wisely. Degrees in finance or business can also help you qualify for this BI specialty.

Qualified financial analysts earned between $57,900 and $166,560 in May 2021, according to BLS. Demand for financial analysts is projected to grow 9% between 2021 and 2031

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Management analyst 

Management analysts focus on improving a company’s operations, organization and decision-making processes through data-driven strategies. This is a broad data analyst career that can overlap with other BI specialties. For example, some management analysts may work on projects that involve financial analysis or higher-level operations research.

Specialists in this field aim to improve management decision-making or specific aspects of operations. For example, some BI professionals may concentrate on an area like inventory or human resources management. Others vary their focus from project to project.

Management analysts earned $50,190 to $163,760 as of May 2021, depending on experience, industry and location, according to BLS. This field is projected to grow 11% between 2021 and 2031.

Market research analyst

Market research analysts use consumer data to help companies understand and define their target market better. As a market research analyst, you will work with existing data to find trends and then create forecasts. This can be invaluable for planning the development and release of a new product or service.

In this specialty, you may also assess the effectiveness of current outreach or advertising campaigns using marketing analytics. As with all BI specialties, part of the job involves presenting findings in a non-technical report.

Market research analysts earned between $37,570 and $128,320 as of May 2021, according to BLS. This range is slightly lower than other BI specialties, but market researchers can expect impressive job growth in the coming decade. Demand for qualified applicants is projected to grow 19% between 2021 and 2031.

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Operations research analyst

An operations research analyst uses BI tools to focus on improving business processes. Depending on the industry and nature of a company’s processes, this specialty can overlap with other BI fields.

Operations research analysts can come from a technical (math or computer science) or business background. A well-rounded education that brings both hard and soft skills is essential for succeeding in this career.

According to BLS, operations research analysts earned between $48,690 and $160,850 in May 2021. BLS projects 23% job growth between 2021 and 2031. 

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Valuable skills for business intelligence professionals

Business intelligence careers require both hard and soft skills, which you can acquire through education and experience. Here is a look at skills needed in these in-demand specialties:

  • Technical skills can include knowledge of general programming languages like Python and C++ and data-specific coding systems like SQL and R.
  • Software knowledge is also essential. You will likely have to work with BI platforms like Tableau, Oracle BI or SAS Analytics.
  • Math and statistics are important for all BI jobs, especially those involving modeling and forecasting.
  • Knowledge of industry-specific processes can be extremely helpful. The nuances and requirements for specific business operations can guide your analysis and ensure you account for necessary variables during your research.
  • Communication skills are vital for all BI specialties. Regardless of the subject of your analysis, you will always need to present your findings to company decision-makers concisely.
  • Critical-thinking skills will give you the requisite problem-solving skills to guide your analysis and help you interpret data in a useful way.

A combination of postsecondary education, internships, self-study and on-the-job experience is necessary to gain the diverse skills needed to succeed in business intelligence.

Pursuing a career in business intelligence

A starting point on the journey to a career in business intelligence may be a Bachelor of Science in Business degree program, which imparts fundamental business skills. A statistics, math or computer science degree can also be useful if you would like to focus on the technical aspects of business intelligence.

Undergraduate or postgraduate certificate programs can effectively supplement your knowledge in business or technical areas by focusing on the basics of a target subject.

Another option is to get an internship or entry-level job where you can learn the skills through hands-on experience. 

Earn a degree in business at University of Phoenix 

If you’re eager to build your business knowledge and skill set, University of Phoenix offers a variety of business degree options. These are: 

  • Bachelor of Science in Business – This program educates students about core business concepts that can prepare them for management roles.
  • Bachelor of Science in Management­ – This program builds leadership skills to help individuals become stronger managers and executives within organizations.
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication – This program equips students with speech and writing skills that can translate to a variety of roles.
  • Business Analytics Certificate – Through this certificate program you’ll be taught to mine, analyze and visualize date. You will also learn to make decisions using statistics and apply data to core business functions.
  • Operations Management Certificate – Top skills taught in this program are learning operations and supply chain management and the continuous improvement process.
  • Master of Business Administration – In addition to strategic planning, students in this program gain an in-depth education on such principles as management, the digital economy and legal aspects of a business.