Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: Differences and Career Paths Explained – Starweaver
Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: Differences and Career Paths Explained

Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: Differences and Career Paths Explained

Companies receive a massive amount of data that needs to be interpreted, organized, managed, and analyzed. But while there are many mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists who make sense of all this data using analytic tools as well as techniques, statistics report that there’s not enough manpower. According to research, only 0.5 % or less of all data is analyzed and used. Also, with growing companies as well as consumers, this field is expected to grow significantly.

Data analytics is essential in science, business, and engineering fields, which means that there is a huge demand for analysts. A data-related degree is a good pursuit for someone who loves analyzing datasets to discover patterns and recognize trends that most people miss. But when deciding which way to go, an important question you should ask yourself is what type of analyst do you want to be? To help you make an informed decision, we have written this business analyst vs data analyst guide. Keep reading to find out which career option is suitable for you.

What’s a Business Analyst?

Business analysts are responsible for identifying technology solutions to amorphous business problems. They can work in various industries like transportation, banking, telecommunications, healthcare, finance, etc. They analyze data to improve a company’s processes and products.

The International Institute of Business Analysis describes a business analyst as one who identifies opportunities and executes them so that the business can capitalize on technology. Business analysts can specialize in different roles including functional, business systems, agile, or service requests depending on a person’s area of interest. For instance, a service request analyst is responsible for handling system enhancements along with inquiries from users while a functional analyst helps companies integrate their technology with other systems.

Successful business analysts should be strong critical thinkers, problem solvers, and great communicators. He/she must be willing to take a holistic view of a challenge and work with different individuals to get the necessary information that drives technology changes. Mostly, those who do well as business analysts have previously worked as project managers or software developers.

What’s a Data Analyst?

He/she determines ways companies can use data to make excellent decisions by using specialized analysis tools and techniques. While it sounds similar to a business analyst, data analysts work directly with the data itself. These individuals identify crucial questions, apply the correct statistical technique to harness data, and evaluate complex data to get useful information then derive conclusions. They keep an enterprise’s data safe while ensuring that repositories produce reusable and consistent data.

Data analysts are mostly employed in auto insurance, travel, agriculture, oil, food, etc. Successful data analysts should possess the technical skills needed for mining and analyzing data. They should also be good communicators and decision-makers. Those who’ve worked in accounting computer science, business, or healthcare accounting fields can make great data analysts.

Business Analysts vs Data Analysts Responsibilities

Although they both work with data, the difference is what they do with it. While business analysts use it to help companies make informed business decisions, data analysts gather and analyze it for a business to evaluate and use for making decisions on their own. That said, here are some responsibilities of these two professionals.

Business Analyst

  • Define business case
  • Analyze what the business needs
  • Identify areas that need improvement
  • Resolving issues by working with various teams
  • Recommending suitable solutions
  • Quality testing
  • Project development

Data Analyst

  • Data entry and scrubbing
  • Creating internal and client-facing reports
  • Producing and maintaining reports for various departments
  • Correcting code issues


Business Analyst vs Data Analyst Skill Set

Data analysts mostly analyze data and crunch numbers independently. Thus, they should be able to work on their own. Plus, they must have strong computer skills. Also, they must be good communicators to communicate their findings to others. They should have an undergraduate degree in a STEM category, experience in computer programming, SQL/COQL, R and Python experience, strong analytical skills, data mining techniques, fluency with machine learning, data frameworks, and emerging technologies, along with reporting accuracy.

Business analysts, on the other hand, often find themselves in collaborative roles. They work with various teams to straddle the gap between business functions and information technology. One should have an undergraduate degree in business-related fields like finance, administration, or economics. Requirements include proven SAP skills, SQL proficiency, analytic capabilities, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel skills, ability to identify and investigate important data, strong communication skills, and experience in project management.

Salary Comparison

Business analysts can earn $78 500 per year while data analysts earn $72250/year averagely. But, one’s salary depends on their company, geographical location, and their job role. However, both these positions make a person suitable for transitioning to a data scientist who earns an average salary of $113, 436/year.

User Interaction

Business analysts interact more with those using the system, system developers, as well as customers since they’re project managers and facilitators. They may interview people frequently to determine how a business can improve its technology which helps improve its processes. During a single project, they may work with several people. Even though data analysts may initially talk to experts in the subject matter to know the crucial datasets, they do their work independently most times.

How to Choose Between a Data Analyst and a Business Analyst

There are certain factors you should consider when choosing a career between these two. These are;

Your background- these analysts have different educational and professional backgrounds. Business analysts have an undergraduate business-focused degree. While they have knowledge of programming languages, they are usually not experts. Data analysts have an undergraduate degree in a STEM major and an extensive background in predictive analysis, programming, math, and science.

Your interests-if you love solving problems, a career as a business analyst may be perfect for you. These people are responsible for researching, organizing, and supervising a new workflow that’s implemented. Data analysts usually deal with numbers they’re interested in extracting datasets from complicated sources.

Your career path- while they may share some similarities, their salary and career paths differ. In terms of advancement, business analysts have limited options but data analysts have more career path options which can make them more cash.

Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: Which Should I Choose?

Well, that decision is entirely yours to make. But, while these two career options may have some differences, individuals pursuing them have a promising future. Both of them are in high demand. Whichever you choose, you should take several steps to prepare for the workplace. Also, you’ll need to develop the required skills for the position you desire and undergo appropriate training.


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