A certified business analyst conducts research and provides consulting services regarding a company's overall business model. He or she reviews production policies, sales figures, profit margins, and marketing approaches to determine if one or more areas can be improved. A professional often communicates with employees, executives, stockholders, and customers to analyze the effectiveness of current strategies and receives input about proposed changes.
Business analysts work in many different industries and settings, including software and technology companies, retail and distribution headquarters, and manufacturing plants. The specific job duties can vary between settings, but a certified business analyst in any company provides the same basic service. He or she tries to improve company profits and customer satisfaction by tweaking sales and production models.
After researching competing businesses and emerging technology, an analyst might determine that investing in new manufacturing equipment could help bolster efficiency in production. If production techniques seem sufficient, an analyst might consider different marketing strategies to increase awareness of the company's products. He or she might implement an online advertising campaign that targets a specific demographic or suggest changes to packaging to make products appear more attractive on store shelves.
A certified business analyst might work full-time at a large corporation or provide consulting services to many different clients. Most consultants are employed by large firms dedicated to the practice, but some skilled, experienced analysts are self-employed. There are benefits to both types of work. A full-time analyst is intimately familiar with a company's history, current practices, and long-term goals, while a consultant can bring a fresh, unique perspective to a business that has long been struggling with improving business models to no avail.
A person who wants to become a certified business analyst usually needs to complete at least some college coursework and gain experience in entry-level positions. Most business analysts at large companies and consulting firms hold bachelor's degrees or higher in business administration, economics, accounting, or a similar topic. Working as an entry-level business analyst or as an administrative assistant can provide the hands-on skills necessary to succeed on certification exams.
Many different organizations offer certification to experienced business analysts, but the largest and most recognized organization is the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). The IIBA provides Certified Business Analysis Professional credentials to workers who apply for membership and pass extensive written or computerized exams. A certified business analyst is usually required to take refresher courses and exams about every three years to maintain his or her professional credentials.