As corporate missions become more complex, there’s a rising need for business analysts (sometimes abbreviated as “BAs”) who can provide strategic planning. These analysts also play a vital role in figuring out optimal workflows and market approaches. Because of their value to organizations of pretty much any size, they’re rich hiring targets for recruiters and hiring managers. But bringing a business analyst onboard will likely cost the company quite a bit. According to Dice’s Salary Calculator, a business analyst in the Bay Area with five years’ experience can make between $72,418 and $94,143 per year. Even in areas not swamped by excessive demand, such as the Midwest, analysts with the same background and skills can earn up to $84,000—and that’s before you factor in specialized abilities. (A note on the Salary Calculator: some companies, of course, pay far more for talent. The salary range is more of a market estimate than an absolute judge of the minimum and maximum salary for a given profession.) Recruiters and hiring managers should keep in mind that business analysts must often act as a conduit of sorts between management and tech staff, often negotiating between parties to find out what’s technically feasible. Those analysts who succeed in their role often exhibit extraordinary soft skills, which is something to probe during the interview process. In addition, business analysts must have a firm grasp of an organization’s methodologies, standards, tools, and techniques; they also need to monitor various teams’ progress toward their goals. (A full breakdown of business analysts’ typical scope of work is available on Dice.) An interview must confirm that they have experience in system design, breaking down workflows, and developing system-test plans. (Good analysts also know the “requirements food chain.”) Many interview questions for business analysts revolve around practical problem-solving. For example, a hiring manager might describe a hypothetical business and ask the analyst to calculate profit per month, while also breaking out potential issues in revenue streams and costs. Another common set of questions takes a more abstract approach; for example, asking the analyst to streamline a process, manage multiple deliverables, or “upgrade” a project with new technology in mid-stream. Whatever the analyst’s background and qualifications, though, chances are good that the organization will need to pay a premium salary and benefits in order to acquire their services—especially if the analyst in question has a deep background or a lengthy pedigree of working for prestigious firms.
Nick Kolakowski has written for The Washington Post, Slashdot, eWeek, McSweeney's, Thrillist, WebMD, Trader Monthly, and other venues. He's also the author of "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps" and "Maxine Unleashes Doomsday," a pair of noir thrillers.