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Thinking about a career in Business Intelligence Analytics? Well, to master this profession, you’ll need not only technical know-how, but also a robust set of soft skills.

So, what expertise is required? And what qualities will come in handy if you want to become a BI analyst? Read on to find out.

What Do BI Analysts Do, and What Tools Do They Use?

For modern-day businesses, data is king. It helps them understand their target audiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and develop winning growth strategies. But raw data, especially when you’ve got tons of information coming in daily, is just that — raw and unusable. It must be processed to become an effective source of valuable insights. And this is where BI analysts step in.

A business intelligence (BI) analyst is a data detective, uncovering hidden trends and translating them into tangible results.

They take massive databases that store information about the company’s products, orders, customers, etc., and turn the data into attractive, meaningful, and easy-to-understand presentations. The dashboards, charts, and other data-based visuals BI analysts create help stakeholders assess the company’s performance and make informed decisions about what’s next.

“There's a need not just for people who pull data, but also for people who can translate that data — that's just as hard,” TripleTen grad Brad Stansbury explains.

To succeed as a BI analyst, you must learn at least half a dozen tools, from SQLData Analytics 101: All You Need to Know about SQL and Postgres to spreadsheets, TableauNot Sure Where to Start with Your BI Career? Learn Tableau!, and Power BI. It will take time and effort to master them all. But the good news is that companies across the globe widely use these tools, and there’s no coding involved per se. This makes the position of a BI analyst one of the most accessible in tech.

What Are the Key Hard Skills a BI Analyst Needs?

Data management

The work of a BI analyst begins with proficiency in data management. You need to be able to extract raw data from various sources and assemble your facts and figures in a single location — a spreadsheet.

Then you must clean and validate your data, eliminating unusable, unreliable, or irrelevant bits. The next step is transformation, when you convert data into a format suitable for analysis.

And you may also want to enrich what you’ve got by adding extra information that can put your data into context. One simple example is merging customer data with geographic data, which will help you understand regional trends.

To do all of the above, BI analysts need to have a command of spreadsheet editors such as Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, both of which have dozens of useful functions facilitating the storage and manipulation of data.

Familiarity with relational database systems like Postgres enables BI analysts to retrieve and manage data efficiently. Mastery of SQLData Analytics 101: All You Need to Know about SQL is, therefore, also a must-have. It is an easy-to-learn query language used to perform operations on the data stored in these relational databases.

“You do a little query, and you get those numbers, and the numbers line up, and you can get that spark of joy. It’s exciting to solve a problem,” TripleTen grad Dash Wieland shares.

Even by just using Excel, you can structure numbers and metrics like a pro. This is an example BI analytics spreadsheets from the Data Visualization Blog.

Data analysis

When your datasets are all neat, you need to be able to notice patterns and trends that could make a difference. At the end of the day, it’s your deductions that matter the most. So you’ll need analytical skills.

To derive meaningful conclusions, identify relationships between different data sets, and make accurate predictions, BI specialists use various types of analysis. The list includes descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and retrospective analysis.

Data visualization

Arriving at insights is only part of your job as a BI analyst. You must also explain your discoveries to colleagues who might not be as tech-savvy as you are. To do this, you must first visualize all of your findings. The infographics you build, such as pie charts, bar graphs, or maps, will help others digest your report.

“I used Tableau a lot, which really helped because people can wrap their heads around a graph instead of just seeing a spreadsheet with numbers,” Brad Stansbury says.

Tableau and Power BI are two of the most common tools BI analysts use to create interactive dashboards. These are user-friendly visual interfaces that display key metrics and insights. They are often updated in real time, and users can select filters and toggle between different views.

A ScienceSoft example of a BI Analytics dashboard showing a sales overview.

What Soft Skills Help a BI Analyst Thrive?

Specific soft skills

Having created the visuals, you next need to rely on your soft skills. Compelling storytelling is one of the talents a BI analyst needs because having engaging pictures is not enough. They are just illustrations that prove your point to project managers and stakeholders. Captivating stories work better than enumerated facts.

Presentation skills are essential to make yourself heard and understood. You need to sound both enthusiastic and confident when you tell your story. You probably don’t have to be an outstanding orator, but being a decent speaker will greatly help.

“I’ve been able to avoid this, but I’ve seen other people in my position struggle with public speaking. And if you can’t present well, then your ideas will be ignored,” Dash Wieland says.

As a BI analyst, you also need to be business-savvy and have a deep knowledge of your industry. You can’t arrive at meaningful conclusions if you don’t fully understand your company’s goals and processes. And knowing the relevant KPIs and metrics will help you pinpoint potential problems and offer better solutions.

General soft skills

To succeed as a BI analyst, you need a set of transferable qualities. This includes being inquisitive, organized, and meticulous. Plus, you’ll benefit from being a strong team player and showing independence. Here’s a quick overview of some other soft skills that BI analysts need.

Communication skills. From briefings and brainstorms to regular collaboration with your colleagues to the final presentations of your reports, communication is a huge part of your job as a BI analyst. So be ready to talk and write a lot.

Problem-solving skills. BI pros use data analysis to highlight their organization’s strengths and weaknesses. They look at potential problems from both the technical and business side. And they should always try to optimize the process, too.

Time management. BI analysts normally work on a tight schedule because people often need quick answers to their questions. Plus, chances are, you’ll have more than one project to deal with at the same time. So proper planning is key.

Attention to detail. Handling tons of data derived from various sources, BI analysts should be very accurate. Errors in the data may lead to inaccurate conclusions in your reports. It also helps to have a keen eye for potential anomalies when looking for general trends. You may spot some fine detail that will improve your analysis.

Basic math skills. You don’t have to be a genius in algebra to analyze data, but having at least basic math skills is fundamental in BI. They will help you better understand what stands behind all those numbers in your datasets and use various models to clean and interpret them.

An example of a job post for a BI Analyst on Linkedin.

How Do You Become a BI Analyst?

Getting a BI analyst role is one of the fastest and easiest ways to break into tech — and start earning a median yearly salary of $75,000. You don’t need to learn coding or have a university degree to master the profession and get hired.

TripleTen’s four-month online bootcamp will teach you all the skills you need to begin your BI journey. And our career coaches will significantly boost your job-hunting game. Eighty-seven percent of our students get a job in tech within six months of graduation. You could be one of them.

So, if you have some of the skills BI analysts need and you’re eager to learn the remaining ones, don’t hesitate to explore our curriculum and book a call with one of our advisors.

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