Business analysts develop and analyze the requirements of a business's computer systems. They are the liaison between the users and the systems group. They translate business language into systems language, develop test plans and quality-assurance-test the system. They also help write user manuals and train users on new systems or enhancements to existing systems.
Michelle, 24, is a business analyst in the retirement services industry. She attended Humber College for four years for the Computer Technical Support program, and has been taking courses for the past 18 months at Sheridan College in the Database Systems certificate program.
Stephanie: What made you decide to become a business analyst?
Michelle: After many hopes and dreams, my life path changed several times; I made a deliberate choice to be a business analyst, or BA, and it was something I worked hard to become.
My mother once told me that everyone has been given a gift in life, and that when you find it, you shouldn't ignore it - you should be grateful. If you haven't been given a gift, you have the difficult task of finding something you enjoy and can become really good at! Unfortunately, what my gift was wasn't so clear. Though I had the ambition and drive to be a better person, I found choosing something to do for the rest of my life was a daunting task. A business analyst is what I do, but not who I am. It's something I do to achieve all the other things I want from life.
Stephanie: How did you become a business analyst?
Michelle: After several paths, and many jobs (in accounts receivable, as a dental assistant, as a human resources specialist, etc.) the choice was easy! I excelled in something I never knew I was good at! While working as a human resources specialist, it became clear I was in the wrong field. However much I loved being around people, I really showed an aptitude and interest for computers! So once I was sure this was my choice, I had a goal. I enrolled in continuing education courses at Humber College in an information technology-related program. After four years of hard work and a diploma later, I became a business analyst, and was very happy to have made the choice. I'm now taking courses at Sheridan College in the Database Systems certificate program to improve and expand my skills and qualifications.
Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
Michelle: Being a business analyst is challenging at times, but it also very rewarding. My favourite aspect of the job is completing a project that took so much personal time and effort. Meeting a deadline you thought was impossible, walking in uncharted territories; it's new all the time. I know it might sound crazy, but it feels good to work hard and give your best efforts.
Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Michelle: The long hours! It's definitely a love-hate relationship!
Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a business analyst?
Michelle: I don't really consider myself a good person to give advice, but I guess my advice would be to find your gift, because I think that the hardest part of choosing a career is knowing what that gift is. Once you know that, the rest is easy. As for how to get there, that's a trial and error process! Just be happy; whatever your choice, be loyal and dedicated to that decision. Good luck!
Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be a business analyst?
Michelle: The requirements to become a business analyst aren't written in stone, but personally I would recommend:
- a university or college diploma in business and computer science
- knowledge of business and the business environment
- knowledge of existing systems (LAN, PC, Mainframe, etc.)
- knowledge of methodologies, tools and techniques for testing and developing business requirements
- good communication skills (oral and written)
- good time management skills
- good interpersonal and negotiating skills
- analytical and problem-solving abilities
Stephanie: What is your favourite computer program?
Michelle: Oh, there are too many to list!
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