Business Analyst Vs. Data Analyst: What Is The Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 10 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Data helps an organisation understand and analyse sales and transactions trends to make manufacturing and staff processes more efficient. Many organisations use a data analyst and a business analyst to grow their business and provide strategic business inputs. When planning a career in analysis, knowing the differences between these two job titles can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we discuss what a business and data analyst is, understand business analyst vs. data analyst differences and explore some similarities.

Business analyst vs. data analyst: definition

It is important to compare business analysts vs. data analysts to know the differences and similarities of both job positions. These analysts differ in many ways, including:

What is a business analyst?

A business analyst is a professional who analyses data from different business areas, suggests solutions and develops insights for making critical business decisions. These professionals' insight helps highlight a business's vulnerability, strengths and impediments. These professionals help a company advance to the next level through their analysis. They often work in tandem with business leaders and other stakeholders. Some common job responsibilities of these professionals include:

  • identify the IT technology needs of the organisation

  • create financial reports and IT budgets

  • lead a review of business processes and develop optimisation strategies

  • conduct requirement analysis

  • work closely with technicians, clients and managerial staff

  • coach, train, guide and coach junior team members

  • interpret data to make informed business IT-related recommendations

  • evaluate business processes, anticipate requirements, develop solutions and uncover areas of improvement

  • implement IT programs to improve the efficiency of the processes

Related: What Is A Business Analyst? Definition And Career Advice

What is a data analyst?

A data analyst is a professional who collects, monitors and interprets data about a business. They can analyse data on sales numbers, linguistics, customer purchase behaviour, market research and other behaviour. They present their data to business stakeholders, managers and team members. A part of their job role involves ensuring the accuracy and quality of the data they use for analysis. This is essential because their analysis helps a company make critical business decisions. Some common job responsibilities of a data analyst are:

  • provide a report to the business stakeholders and management

  • use data to analyse critical business trends

  • advise management on prioritising business information

  • help develop analysis and reports

  • keep up to date with current regulations

  • manage database for specific areas of the business

  • present findings to senior management

  • generate reports from a single of multi-system

  • use data insights to analyse performance outcomes

  • collaborate with team members to improve statistical testing procedures

  • make reports for better decision making

Related: How To Become A Data Analyst: A Complete Guide

Business analyst vs. data analyst: key differences

Here are some key differences between a business analyst and a data analyst:

Purpose of analysis

A data analyst gathers and maintains data to present to others in the team, while a business analyst analyses data to make important business recommendations. A business analyst helps an organisation identify key business trends that they can use for making business decisions. The primary responsibility of a data analyst is presenting information to others without accuracy and bias.

Education

A business analyst requires at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, accounting, finance, business, economics and science. Many professionals pursue quantitative courses in computer science, statistics and mathematics to increase their knowledge. You can even pursue a master's or doctoral degree in related areas. Often, a data analyst requires a bachelor's degree in mathematics, economics, statistics and computer science. Many senior management roles require a candidate to complete a master's degree in related areas.

Certifications

For business analysts, certifications in management and business analysis help these professionals progress in their careers. You can pursue certifications through a private or government organisation. Some common certifications for a business analyst include:

  • Certified analytics professional (CAP)

  • Certification of competency in business analyst (CCBA)

  • Certified business analyst professional (CBAP)

  • Agile analysis certification (AAC)

A data analyst professional pursues certification courses in databases and programs they work with. These certifications and courses help these professionals excel in their careers. Some common certifications for a data analyst include:

  • Data analytics professional certificate

  • Microsoft certified data analyst associate

  • Microsoft certified solutions expert: Data management and analytics

Technical expertise

Data analyst works with programs and databases, so they require excellent knowledge of structured query level (SQL), mathematical skills, Excel, statistical programming languages, machine learning, data collection and data visualisation. The ability to write codes in languages like Python and R is a desirable skill. As business analyst focuses only on analysis, they do not require extensive technical expertise. Having a basic knowledge of some of these technical skills is desirable for a successful career.

Salary

The national average salary of a business analyst is ₹25,342 per month. Their salary depends upon academic qualification, level of experience and location. Some cities pay a higher salary than others. For instance, the average salary in Bengaluru is ₹63,451 per month, whereas the average salary in Mumbai is ₹55,539 per month.

The national average salary of a data analyst is ₹21,261 per month. The salary depends upon their experience, location and education. For instance, some people begin their career as junior data analysts while others join as senior data analysts. The national average salary of a senior data analyst is ₹8,04,760 per year, while the national average salary of a junior data analyst is ₹3,14,110 per year.

Similarities between a business and data analyst

While both these professionals are different in many aspects, they share certain similarities, such as:

Communication skills

Employers prefer hiring a data and business analyst with excellent verbal and written communication skills. Both these professionals create analysis and performance reports that are easy to comprehend and understand. This is because they communicate the findings, results and recommendations to business stakeholders and managers. They use communication skills every day to communicate insights delivered. Often, they use written communication skills to suggest solutions to improve an organisation's productivity.

Critical thinking skills

Though the focus on their work is slightly different, they both identify problems and solve them to find business solutions. A business analyst analyses the company's policies and structure and suggests improvement in the workflows and processes. A data analyst understands a company's goal and uses the information obtained from analysis to solve business problems. Excellent critical thinking skills help these professionals understand the type of data collected, identify the connection between different data points and use that information to develop intelligent solutions. Both professionals encounter many technical issues and critical thinking skills help troubleshoot problems.

Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

Problem-solving skills

These professionals require excellent problem-solving skills to analyse data to solve problems and provide business insights. Effective problem-solving involves using logic, experience and creativity to find solutions that benefit the organisation. Some skills associated with problem-solving include decision-making and dependability. Employers prefer employees on whom they can depend on for identifying and implementing solutions.

Work environment

Business and data analysts work in consultancy, financial service, consumer retail and small and medium-sized firms. They might work in other industries, such as healthcare organisations and social media agencies. Depending upon their employer and duties, these professionals can work remotely or in an office space. Though they work in a nine-to-six job, it is common for both business and data analysts to devote up to 40 hours per week to perform their job duties.

Most of these analysts work in a team and require excellent collaboration and teamwork skills. As they analyse essential business information and data, they work closely with managers and business stakeholders to provide strategic information. One part of their workday involves interpreting and organising data, while another involves improving current business procedures.

How to choose a career between a data analyst and business analyst

To choose between a data analyst and a business analyst, follow these steps:

1. Choose based on your educational background

A business analyst earns an undergraduate degree to improve their skill set and understand the job role. These professionals have basic knowledge of various programming languages. In comparison, a data analyst makes charts, identifies trends and creates visual presentations. So, they require in-depth proficiency in SQL and different programming languages.

2. Know your interest

If you have an interest in numbers and proficiency in statistics and programming, consider pursuing a data analyst job. They extract important data points from complex information. If you enjoy solving business problems, you might benefit from becoming a business analyst because it requires extensive research.

3. Know your career's trajectory

As a data analyst requires extensive technical skills, the entry-level position of a data analyst pays a comparatively higher salary than entry-level business analysts. With advanced certifications and courses, business analysts move further in their careers and enjoy higher salaries. Interestingly, a data analyst can move into data science and developer roles.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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