Data analytics is the process of analyzing data to identify trends and uncover insights that can be used to inform organizational decisions. Business analytics is about analyzing different types of information to make data-driven business decisions. Then, it focuses on making changes based on those decisions. Analytics often draws on insights from data analysis to identify problems and find solutions.

What is a data analyst?

Data analysts’ real job is to tell compelling stories using data to empower leaders of organizations to make better, more informed decisions.

The responsibilities of a data analyst often include: 

  • Design and support data systems and databases, as well as possible troubleshooting issues
  • Preparation for analysis: Data mining and cleaning
  • Effectively sharing the findings with key stakeholders and organizational leadership by preparing reports
  • Data analysts need to be able to perform their duties effectively. They must have the technical skills required for data mining, analysis, hygiene, and communication

Data analysts have the following basic skills: data visualization and presentation skills, Microsoft Excel, Structured Query Language, (SQL), R and Python programming abilities.

Entry-level data analysts require a bachelor’s degree in the same field. Hiring managers in senior positions often prefer to have a master’s or doctorate in analytics.

What is a business analyst?

Data is used to support strategic business decisions by business analysts.

Business analysts might also be called operations research, management, or business data analysts.

The duties of a business analyst typically include:

  • Evaluation of business processes to determine efficiency, cost, or other important metrics
  • Communication of insights with business teams, and other stakeholders
  • Preparing strategic recommendations to improve performance, process, and procedure adjustments

To be a business analyst, you must have the ability to think critically, problem-solve, communicate, and improve processes. They must understand the objectives and processes of their company and how they can analyze performance and identify inefficiencies.

While business analysts should have a basic understanding of analytics technology, the demand for more advanced technical skills is lower than for data analysts. A strong knowledge of math, computer science, and analytics can be a major advantage for those seeking career advancement.

Business analyst positions at entry-level require a bachelor’s in business administration or another related field of study. As there is a greater demand for data-savvy professionals, applicants are increasingly looking to pursue advanced degrees such as a master’s degree in analytics or a masters in business analytics.

What’s the difference?

Data analysts and business analysts both work with data. The main difference is in how they use it. Data analysts are used by businesses to make better business decisions. On the other hand, data analysts are more interested in gathering and analyzing data to help businesses make better business decisions.

Martin Schedlbauer is an associate clinical professor at Northeastern University and the information and data sciences programs director. “In its simplest form, data is a way to the end, for business analysts, and data is the means to that end for data analysts,” he says.

How to Choose Between a Career as a Data Analyst and Business Analyst

Which career path is right for you? Data analyst or business analyst. Three factors will help you decide which career path is right for you:

  • Your professional and educational background
  • Your interests
  • Your career path
  1. Consider your background.

Blake Angove, director technology services at LaSalle Network, said that business analysts and data analysts often come from different backgrounds.

For example, business analysts are sometimes referred to as systems analysts. They usually have an undergraduate degree in a business-focused field. They use data to improve business operations and are familiar with (but not necessarily experts) many programming languages.

“Business analysts might take requirements from the business and work between the business and the technical team to develop a software package or implement a new CRM,” Angove says.

On the other hand, data analysts work with large data sets every day to identify trends and make charts. They also create visual presentations that the business can use to make decision. They are often STEM-related and have a higher education and more experience in mathematics, science, programming and modeling.

  1. Consider your interests.

Are you more interested in numbers and statistics or more focused on solving business problems?

Schedlbauer states that business analysts love working in corporate environments and are more interested solving problems. For example, they might be responsible for organizing and overseeing the implementation a new workflow. They are naturally gifted communicators, and both written and oral communication skills are crucial as they must communicate technical messages to stakeholders in layman’s terms.

Data analysts are people who are data-driven and excel in programming and statistics. Data analysts are the gatekeepers of business data. They have deep roots in databases and are interested in extracting data from disparate sources. Schedlbauer states that data analysts must have an in-depth knowledge and deep interest in the industry they work in.

  1. Consider your career path.

Although business analysts and data analysts have some commonalities, their potential career paths and salaries are different.

Angove explained that business analysts do not need a deep programming background like data analysts. Therefore, entry-level positions are paid a lower salary than data analysts. According to PayScale, the average salary for an IT business analyst is $68,691.

Angove states that business analysts have a higher ceiling on advancement and salaries. Senior business analysts will eventually reach a cap of around $100,000.

To move from a business analyst position to a more analytical-driven career, advanced degrees and certifications may be required.

Angove states that data analysts are more likely to earn six figures or more and have more career options. According to the Robert Half Technology 2020 Salary Guide, data analysts usually earn between $83,750 – $142,500. These professionals primarily work in databases so there is room for advancement by learning additional programming skills such as R and Python. Advanced degrees allow data analysts to move into developer and data science positions more easily.

The Difference between Data and Business Analysis: More than Just Semantics

Both data analysts and business analysts have bright futures, despite the differences.

Angove states that both are in high demand. “Data science is a hot topic for many companies. Many of them are building large data teams and hiring data scientists.”

No matter which career path you ultimately decide to pursue, there are steps you’ll need to take to prepare yourself for the workplace. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to develop the skills required for your desired position and complete the appropriate training. 

Faculty members who are industry-aligned bring their personal experiences from the workplace to the classroom each day. The program emphasizes experiential learning, which provides students with the practical skills they need to succeed.

This program provides a portfolio of work samples that demonstrates the expertise of graduates. This helps them stand out in the workplace and improves their resumes.

Business Skills vs. data analyst Skills

Each skill set is different for data analytics and business analysis. Both occupations deal with data in different ways. Here are some skills that both occupations share.

Both roles share many skills. You can make yourself successful in any career path by being great

  • Oral and written communicator
  • Problem solver
  • Critical thinker
  • Organizer
  • Collaborator


High salaries are often paid for the in-demand skills of business analysis and data analytics. Glassdoor reports that in the US, business analysts will earn $77,218, while data analyst base salaries will be $69,517.

Comparison Of Business analyst and data analyst

Both business analysts and data analysts work with data. What they do with data is the difference. Data analysts can use it to make strategic business decisions. Data analysts collect data, analyze it, find useful information, and transform it into actionable insights. Their ultimate goal is to analyze data.

Both roles require people to love data and to be analytical. They also need to have problem-solving skills and the ability to see the big picture and work towards it. It’s important to know the differences between these career options if you choose between them.

  • Analysts use data to find problems and solve them. However, they do not conduct a detailed technical analysis. They work at a conceptual level and communicate with stakeholders. Data analysts on the other side spend most of their time collecting raw data from different sources, cleaning it and transforming it and using a variety of specialized techniques to extract useful information and draw conclusions.
  • Business analysts often have extensive industry or domain experience in e-commerce or manufacturing. This role is less dependent on technical aspects than data analysts. However, they still need to know about statistical tools, common programming language, networks, and database.
  • Business analysts should be skilled in the modeling and gathering of requirements. Data analysts must have strong business intelligence and data mining skills. They also need to be familiar with current machine learning and AI technologies.
  • Business administration skills are a great asset for business analysts. Many business analysts have business, management, IT, computer science or other related fields. Data analysts who need to understand complex statistics, algorithms, and databases will benefit from math or information technology background.

Each role requires additional skills

Business and data analysts need additional skills to succeed beyond their role-specific and technical skills.

Business analysts must be able:

  • A holistic approach to a business challenge or problem is recommended.
  • To drive change, you must work with people from all company levels.
  • Create clear and understandable business and project plans, reports and analyses.
  • Communicate with all stakeholders at all levels.
  • Make recommendations that are clear and persuasive for a variety of audiences.

Data analysts must be able:

  • Transform data into business insights.
  • You can work independently.
  • Identify the relevant data sets and then add them to your system.
  • Clear and meaningful reporting results.
  • As needed, define new data collection or analysis processes.