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Business Analyst: Educational Requirements

Business analysts assist management executives, clients and stockholders by analyzing business practices, identifying potential problems and providing financial or managerial solutions. They may go by other titles, including budget analysts, financial analysts or management analysts, if they specialize in a particular field. Analysts may be essential to businesses because of their ability to reduce wasted costs and streamline organization.

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Educational Requirements for a Business Analyst

Bachelor's degree programs in finance, accounting or business administration may provide training for college students who want to become business analysts. Introductory courses vary depending on the major, but can include those in investment management, taxation or basic cost accounting. Additionally, some programs require foundational mathematics, statistics or econometrics courses that help prepare students for financial modeling.

Some finance and accounting departments require students to achieve a minimal grade point average in foundational courses in order to be accepted into the major. Once students meet these requirements, they may begin taking more advanced classes in business law, financial accounting or taxation. Students may also begin to acquire more specialized knowledge in these upper-level courses. For example, finance majors may begin learning about estate planning and risk management, while accounting students may delve more deeply into internal controls and auditing.

Practicums or Internships

College students may receive credit for participating in professional practicum or internship opportunities. Finance interns may apply learned techniques in order to create a portfolio of financial assets and demonstrate their investment strategies. Accounting students may gain on-the-job experience analyzing balance sheets and income statements.

Graduate Degrees

Some organizations may prefer to hire those who have earned a Master of Science in Finance, a Master of Accounting or a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Through individual and group assignments, as well as case studies, graduate students are able to gain added insight into business analysis.

Advanced courses such as financial strategy, investment management and mathematical modeling further help students hone their skills on cost evaluation and financial decision-making. MBA students may take additional supplemental courses in strategic operations and organizational behavior in order to better understanding how to run a business more efficiently.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes salary and job growth information on various types of business analysts (www.bls.gov). These include management analysts, financial analysts, and budget analysts. Job growth for management and financial analysts was expected to be faster than average, with growth rates of 22% and 23%, respectively, from 2010-2020. For budget analysts, job growth was expected to be slower than average, at a rate of 10% during that same time frame. Management and financial analysts earned comparable salaries as of May 2012, with the respective averages coming in at $88,070 and $89,410. Budget analysts earned a bit less, with a May 2012 average of $72,100 per year, according to the BLS.

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