How To Work Out If A Career Change Into Business Analysis Is The Right Move

May 13, 2022

Back in 2002 I had a small deposit to buy my first flat in London. I met my broker to run the numbers and it all seemed fine. But I had a nagging feeling. With all the hype in the news about inflated house prices I was scared. What might happen if I buy and the prices crash 50% or even more? I agonised and analysed - but then realised I just needed to bite the bullet - because every decision involves some element of risk.

So is there a risk when it comes to changing career path? We're faced with all this doubt and fear which can stop us making the right decision for ourselves. One which can be extremely rewarding. So in this article we’ll address whether moving into a business analysis career is the right choice for you.

Is it the right time to make a career change?

If you feel you aren’t continually learning or finding fresh challenges, or if you often think ‘So what’s next in my career?’, then it’s likely you’re stuck in a rut and it’s time to make a change.

Organisations mostly rely on their people to stay in place so they can keep the profit machine going. So economising on training and development is at the top of their list - especially in times of economic uncertainty.

(In a recent Gartner report, it was highlighted that 40% of people leaving their job do so because of a lack of career development).

How would I know if Business Analysis is right for me?

Not everyone’s heard of business analysis - and yet many people are unknowingly doing it (but not being recognised and rewarded for it)

There are 6 symptoms that would point to you being a born business analyst:

  1. You are curious about how business and technology work hand in hand
  2. You are a natural communicator and like to build relationships
  3. You find that you naturally gravitate toward solving problems in your day to day work
  4. You are a natural organiser
  5. You always look for variety and fresh challenge and get bored doing the same thing for too long
  6. You like to think things through before jumping into action

How can I safely transition into a Business Analysis career?

When I help clients move into a BA role, I explain that it’s like the caterpillar who moves from one leaf to another - not by jumping, but by using its legs to maintain a foothold on the old leaf whilst moving to the new leaf. 

There is a simple 4-step process to this transition:

  1. Attitude: If you saw you had the 6 symptoms above then you can tick this box
  2. Foundation: Building a foundation of knowledge of the discipline will help you understand and apply the concepts
  3. Safe practise: Finding a way to apply your knowledge is super important to help the brain connect through kinaesthetic learning
  4. Profile: Get yourself out there and you’ll find that people will be highly interested in recruiting you

But do I need to be technical to do a Business Analyst role?

This is one of the biggest myths out there, and it comes from a lack of understanding of what a business analyst does. The most powerful aspect of the role is acting as a medium between business and technology - and for this you need to understand technical concepts without being technical (which is much easier to do).

It may seem easy but you can’t muscle your way in

It’s a frequent occurrence for someone desperate to break into a business analysis career to get some basic training, and then present themselves at interview claiming 4 years experience. 

One such client got herself into this soup and called on me to help bail her out. Being totally out of her depth it was practically impossible to salvage it and she was let go. I’m not a fan of fabricating facts on a CV because in most cases it does end horribly.

So here’s what happens if you approach it properly

One client I helped had already decided that after 12 years of running a restaurant franchise he wanted to become a Business Analyst. He’d hit a ceiling with his management career, wasn’t earning enough, and was working way too many hours.

And yet he had no business analysis experience - but he did have a good grasp of business, and some experience improving the restaurant operations.

When we did coaching together I saw that it was very natural for him - as though he was born for the role. He had all the hallmarks of a budding business analyst. For him it was eye opening to compare his old job to the vast potential of a business analysis career.

He was about to prove anyone who says ‘you need previous experience’ wrong. 

Because a few months later he landed a dream job that gave him work life balance, a higher salary and ample prospects for moving up.

Ok, let's wrap up

  • Being stuck in a career rut is a place you don’t want to be for too long
  • And organisations are notorious for leaving you in the rut while they get output from you
  • There are 6 symptoms which can help you gauge whether business analysis would be a good move for you
  • But it needs to be done in a carefully planned way, like a caterpillar moving from one leaf to another
  • You don’t need to be a techie to become a business analyst - as it’s a very people focused communication based role (But it doesn’t mean you can just jump into a business analyst job and ‘fake it till you make it’)
  • On the flip side, if you were thinking you don’t have previous experience, it’s not a barrier to entry so it shouldn’t hold you back
  • And ultimately if you want more growth, variety and reward then it’s a perfect career path - with no actual risk

So did the housing market crash?

As we know, in 2008 the housing market did crash. But I hardly noticed it. I had a good business analyst job, the flat I’d bought 6 years earlier was my home, and I wasn’t selling it any time soon. 

All that worry for nothing.

Learn more about the Business Analysis career

This article is a small part of the “Life As A Business Analyst” report where you can read more about how to get started, the career stages, and the rewards.

About The Author

James Compton is a Business Analyst Consultant and Trainer with over 20 years experience. He is on a mission to help early to mid career professionals to become top class business analysts and get paid well for solving meaningful problems. He is also the Director of Professional Development at the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

You can follow James on LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to the newsletter to receive more articles like this.