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How do you become a Business Analyst?

Five people at an agile stand up meeting in front of kanban board

by Business Analysis (BAPL).

A couple of my colleagues have asked me this question and I couldn’t really give them a concrete answer. Later that day, I had time to reflect on the question – how does a person actually become a Business Analyst? Unlike teachers, doctors or architects, there isn’t really a degree in Australia that you can do specifically to become a BA. All the BA’s I’ve met in the past followed fairly different journeys. In this blog, I’ll share my journey to becoming a BA and some interesting stories from current/ex-colleagues too!

My BA journey

When I finished my IT degree, young me already knew that I did not want to be a full time tester. Maybe I was too impatient or just didn’t enjoy doing repetitive tasks. I thought about being a developer so added that to my shortlist. I also wanted to be a Database Admin so I added that too. I didn’t really want to be a Business Analyst as young me thought it wasn’t technical enough aka wasn’t ‘IT’ so I didn’t really apply for BA roles.

Fast forward a few weeks later, and after about 50 job applications – I’ve finally secured my first role as System Administrator! I was really excited as it was my first job out of university! There were heaps of technical systems, techniques and concepts that I needed to learn. It was a mix between a technical and business role and the thing that I really enjoyed was being the conduit between the business and IT. I felt like I was this translator that knew 2 separate languages! The other key thing that I liked in my role was a day was never the same! Every day of the week I had a different task to do! After speaking about it to my manager, he suggested that I consider being a BA as the things I enjoyed doing were in line with what BAs do!

After a year in my first IT job, I decided to move on and work as a Telecommunications Business Analyst for a financial institution. Yes it was tough. It was a learning curve for me but it helped me kick start my BA career!!

BA stories from colleagues

During my short career, I’ve met and worked with a lot of Business Analysts from different specialisations and backgrounds. I was quite surprised to figure out that everyone had a different journey than me.

I worked with a senior BA who finished chemical engineering in university and worked as a lab technician for 10 years before he became a BA. He was originally part of a project as a stakeholder and enjoyed the investigation/requirement activities with in business analysis, so he switched careers!

I’ve worked alongside a call centre representative who was in their role for 2 years working as an SME for a project I was part of. She really enjoyed the various project activities and challenges. For her, there was never a dull day when doing project work and we encouraged her to start her career as a BA. A year later and after doing a BA training course, the company decided to give her a promotion as a Junior BA to kick start her career!

I also had a colleague who, with 15 years of testing experience behind him, decided to move to become a BA. He said that BAs usually have multiple roles behind that job title. BAs can also be Product Owners, Testers, Data Analysts, Change Managers or even Network Engineers on some projects. It was that flexibility and ‘wearing many hats’ that attracted him to shift from the testing.

Some Guidance

Some of the things I and my BA colleagues believe will help a person start a career in business analysis, or transition their career in this direction are:

  • Building a network – if you want to be a BA, talk to other BAs. Learn from them and build the chance of opportunities through this network.
  • Training – Business Analysis is not a cookie cutter role, but there are definitely some great courses that will get you well on your way. Business Analysis (BAPL) provide amazing courses that have helped people transition into BA roles.
  • Become a part of the industry. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) provides a wealth of information, public events, and networks. If being a BA is what you want to do, connecting with an organisation focused on it is a great start.

To sum it up, everyone has different adventures they have to go through to become a BA. Being a BA doesn’t mean that you have a list of set tasks, but doing whatever is needed for the success of the project.

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