The field of business analytics involves the iterative analysis and exploration of organizational data in order to evaluate day-to-day operations, make strategic decisions, and set company goals related to profit, productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. Analytics is practiced across a wide range of industries, and candidates with this skill are often considered in high demand.
Many analytics professionals prepare themselves for this career by earning a bachelor's degree in business analytics or a related field, such as information systems management or database administration. However, many gain the necessary knowledge and skills by earning an online certification, rather than completing a four-year degree program. Online analytics certifications can also supplement an employee's undergraduate credentials, and potentially lead to higher salaries and advancement opportunities. In addition, the structure of online certification programs may be more conducive to students who wish to study analytics but have full-time jobs, childcare duties, and other obligations that prevent them from attending a brick-and-mortar campus.
The curriculum of each business analytics certificate program will vary from institution to institution, but these pathways are all designed to equip students with the same general set of skills. The following table takes a closer look at four areas of study that are often included in business analytics certification pathways. All four subjects are linked to career advancement and salary growth in the analytics field.
Business Analytics Certificate Curriculum Skills
||Career this skill pays for
|Agile Software Development
||Agile software development refers to the principles and strategies used to create, implement, and evaluate software programs. Agile methodologies emphasize collaboration between different teams, adaptable technology, and diligent monitoring and evaluation. The term comes from the Agile Manifesto, a co-authored list of 12 software development principles that was introduced in 2001.
||Senior Business Analyst
||Process improvement refers to strategies for pinpointing problems in a business, analyzing their root causes and effects, and addressing them in order to boost productivity, efficiency, financial gains, and customer satisfaction. Lean marketing, a practice of iterative product design and development, is one prominent example of process improvement.
||Sr. Business Analyst (Computer Software/Hardware/Systems)
||Also known as requirements engineering, requirements analysis is used to identify the key features or requirements of a new or modified product. As a rule, all requirements must be quantifiable, documented, and justifiable in terms of organizational needs or goals.
||Business Systems Analyst
||Most commonly used in software engineering, data modeling refers to the analysis of data requirements in information and computing systems that correspond to distinct business goals. Data modeling consists of three stages: conceptual, logical, and physical. This process also explores the relationships between different data requirements and systems.
The CBAP credential is perfect for analytics professionals who have accrued at least 7,500 hours (or five years) of professional experience over the past decade. Additionally, candidates must have a high school diploma or higher, as well as a minimum of 21 analytics-related professional development hours over the previous four years. Unlike certificates offered from accredited universities, the CBAP does not require formal coursework, allowing students to study independently.
The CBAP is awarded to those who pass a comprehensive exam based on mastery of the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge Guide (BABOK Guide), a publication that is considered the global standard for business analysis education. The exam is almost four hours long and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions derived from content in the BABOK Guide. Candidates get three attempts to pass the exam and they must do so within one year of receiving notice that their application has been approved. Below are four common positions that certified analysts tend to pursue:
Average Salary by Job Title for Certified Business Analysis Professionals
|Senior Business Analyst
||Employees with this managerial title are responsible for reviewing all aspects of their organization's day-to-day operations in order to boost profits and improve efficiency. They also collect employee data using surveys, interviews, and web searches and report their findings to executives and other top-level employees. They will then work together to develop strategies, solutions, and business goals to achieve their goals.
|Business Analyst, IT
||IT analysts specialize in collecting and evaluating data related to their organization's computing and information systems. They provide detailed findings and product specifications to designers and developers, and often have a hand in software and hardware upgrades. They also facilitate discussions about conflicting requirements between their organization's various stakeholders.
|Business Systems Analyst
||Business systems are defined as the tools and processes used in an organization's various day-to-day-operations. Business systems analysts work with employees at all levels of an organization to determine their needs and problems, then use these findings to develop solutions and strategies that align with their company's available resources.
|Computer Software Analyst
||Software analysts work at all stages of software design, development, and sales. They research customer reviews of various products, and provide their findings to software developers. Once a finished product is available for sale, software analysts will then work with customers to ensure the software is working properly.
To qualify to sit for the CBAP exam, students must have at least 7,500 hours of analytics work experience within the previous 10 years. Furthermore, at least 900 of these hours must be concentrated in four of the following BABOK Guide knowledge areas: business analysis planning and monitoring, elicitation and collaboration, requirements life cycle management, strategy analysis, requirements analysis and design definition, and solution evaluation. Additionally, candidates must prove that they have completed at least 35 hours of analytics-related professional development, provide letters of recommendation, and agree to the CBAP Code of Conduct.
In many cases, a certification in business analytics will lead to a higher salary and career advancement opportunities. Due to the highly specialized nature of business analytics, earning a certification can also be useful for employees in a different industry who wish to transition into this field.
Industries for Certified Business Analysts
Business leaders stress the importance of analytics and covet candidates who are certified in analytics. Using data from PayScale, an online salary database, the following table lists average salaries in six of the most popular industries for analytics professionals.
Potential Career Paths for Business Analytics Certificate Holders
Certified analysts typically find jobs in either the business and financial or computer and information technology sectors, both of which are projected to experience above-average industry growth and relatively high salaries in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Below are three common positions that certified analytics professionals typically pursue:
- Management Analysts Also known as management consultants, management analysts monitor and evaluate the various processes of a company or organization and then deliver their findings to top executives. The data they collect is used to address problems, set goals, and improve different performance metrics related to profits, productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction.
- Computer Systems Analysts Computer systems analysts review their organization's software and hardware systems in order to boost overall performance. They also work with designers and developers to create, evaluate, and implement new tools and platforms. The BLS notes that this career path is projected to grow by 21% between 2014 and 2024.
- Operations Research Analysts Operations research analysts rely on algorithms, statistical analysis, and predictive modeling to identify and address problems at their organization. They deliver their findings to executives and other company leaders in the forms of reports, memos, and presentations. More than 25% of these professionals work in the finance and insurance industry, while another 23% work in professional, scientific, and technical services.
Certificate to Master's Bridge Programs
Some business analytics certification online options are classified as 'master's bridge programs'. This means that their curriculum prepares students to immediately enter a graduate degree program as soon as they receive their certification. Students gain foundational knowledge and skills related to analytics and also learn what to expect in a master's-level analytics degree program.
A bridge certificate is not considered a terminal credential, but rather an introduction to the master's in analytics. On the other hand, Graduate certificates are designed for students who want to build on their undergraduate studies without committing to a full graduate degree program.
Best Online Masters Degrees in Business Analytics
Accreditation is an important concern for anyone wishing to pursue an online business analytics certification. Accreditation refers to the comprehensive vetting process that colleges and universities must undergo in order to receive federal funding and confer transferable credits to students. Accreditation-granting organizations (also known as accreditors) evaluate various aspects of an institution under review, including student outcomes like retention and graduation rates, faculty credentials, and campus resources. The accreditation process can last years, in some cases.
In the U.S., three types of accreditation are awarded to degree-granting institutions. Regional accreditation is bestowed upon nonprofit colleges and universities that award two- and four-year degrees, and emphasize liberal arts. A total of seven regional accreditors oversee this process across the country. National accreditation, on the other hand, is primarily given to vocational and technical colleges, as well as for-profit institutions. A total of 10 national accreditors operate nationwide. The third type of accreditation, programmatic, is awarded to smaller institutions at colleges and universities that award degrees in one academic subject, such as medical, nursing, law, and business schools. In most cases, programmatic accreditation is reserved for master's and doctoral degree programs.
Currently, two bodies oversee postsecondary accreditation in the U.S.: the U.S. Department of Education, a branch of the federal government; and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a nonprofit organization. Full lists of accreditors recognized by the Department of Education and CHEA are available online.
Like most bachelor's degrees, online certifications do not receive programmatic accreditation. For this reason, students should carefully research institutions that provide these certifications to ensure that the school they choose has earned accreditation from a regional or national accreditor recognized by the Department of Education or CHEA. Many schools that offer online certifications receive accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which is a national accreditor.