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Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Roles and Career Paths

Are you confused whether you want to become a data analyst or a business analyst?

The difference between two careers as either a data analyst or business analyst is important to understand. There is often confusion about these two careers. When it comes to choosing a professional career related to data analysis, you may find yourself confused between a data analyst and a business analyst. If both roles relate to working with data then what is the difference between data analyst and business analyst?

Data Analyst vs Business Analyst

Data analysts are responsible for analyzing datasets to determine how to use data to make more informed decisions. Business analysts are focused on identifying and analyzing various information to make data-driven business decisions and to solve unformed business problems.

Did I just say the same thing but in a different way? Read below for more information.

Role and Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

Data analytics is the process of collecting, analyzing, modeling and transforming data to get useful information and to reach meaningful conclusions. Organization in all industries can benefit from the insights that data analysts bring.

This role is in high demand as every business collects data and want to translate those data points into making better decisions.

Responsibilities of a Data Analyst

  • Fixing coding and data-related problems
  • Data mining, recognizing, validation and cleansing
  • Increasing efficiency and automation of processes
  • Using statistical tools to interpret data sets
  • Tracking KPIs
  • Responsibility of data quality
  • Developing data dashboards, graphs and visualisations that can effectively and easily communicate situations, trends, and predictions
  • Preparing documentation that guide stakeholders and colleagues through their process

Role and Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

A business analyst helps businesses in improving their processes, products, and services through the data analysis process. Business analysts use data analytics for assessing processes, determining the requirements, and for delivering data-driven recommendations.

Business analysts create and develop new models that support business decisions. They work closely with the IT team and financial reporting to develop strategies and initiate things. They bring organizational changes that leaders and stakeholders want to see.

Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

  1. Analyzing business and outlining the problems
  2. Find opportunity and solutions for the business
  3. Planning, monitoring, budgeting, and forecasting
  4. Preparing documentation to help refine the problems the business is trying to solve
  5. Determining improvement in existing business processes
  6. Designing and implementing new features
  7. Strategic planning and pricing
  8. Reporting to stakeholders

Business analysts are the ones who communicate with stakeholders and elicit, analyze, and validate the required information and policies. This position requires hard skills as well as soft skills. They need to possess the skill of pulling, analyzing, and reporting data trends, and should also be able to apply this information to the business. They are responsible for impact.

Career as a Data Analyst and Business Analyst

How do you choose between a career as a data analyst and business analyst? Which one is the right career path for you: data analyst vs business analyst? You will need four major factors to get your answers:

  1. Education or background
  2. Skills
  3. Interests
  4. Career Path

1. Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Education or Background

Data analysts and business analysts may come from different backgrounds. Business analysts usually earn a business-focused undergraduate degree such as business administration or finance. On the other hand, data analysts usually earn a degree from STEM category with a background in math, programming, modeling, databases, and predictive analysis.

2. Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Required Skills

Business analysts are the ones who require skills like data research, analytical skills, critical data identification, coding (SQL and nowadays python) skills, project management, and lastly communication skills.


On the other hand, data analysts work with large data sets to identify trends and prepare the visual presentation. They are more numbers-oriented and process driven. They would need to have the essential skills like analytical skills, data mining techniques, machine learning, emerging technologies, data frameworks, SQL, Python or R, Tableau, modeling and math.

3. Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Interests

Do you enjoy working in the corporate world and have an interest in finding and implementing ways to solve the problems? Are you a good communicator? You might enjoy being a business analyst.

Are you interested in extracting data from complex and disparate sources? Do you want to get really good at statisitcs and programming? You might enjoy a career as a data analyst.

4. Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Career Path

Though both fields deal with data, they may differ in salary and their career paths. Study says that business analytics entry-level positions may have a slightly lower salary than the entry-level positions in data analytics. Also, data analysts have more options for their career path.

Data Analyst vs Business Analyst: Final Comparison

Since data analyst and business analyst both work with data, they have similar skill sets, at least in the beginner of the career. The pros and cons are subjective and sometimes as a young professional, you don't know until you try it. Because the skill sets are similar, switching from one path to another isn't too hard. But it gets harder over time, especially mid-to-late career when experience and domain knowledge can be more valuable than hard technical skills.