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Explore business analytics courses online

Whether you are new to business analytics or interested in building on your existing knowledge, you can further your education with a range of online business analytics courses. Find out more about business analytics in this guide.

What is business analytics? 

Many businesses are prioritizing the use of data in decision-making. But businesses don't always know how to gather the right kind of data or interpret the data they do have. That’s where business analysts come in.

Business analytics includes the gathering, understanding, and application of data within an organization to make informed business decisions and solve problems.¹ A business analyst will use analytics tools and statistical methods to uncover critical information about a business's past performance and develop predictive modeling. A more traditional function for a business analyst might be making predictions about inventory needs based on seasonal sales trends. But the nature of data collection has changed with the growth of the digital landscape. Now, business analysts can find themselves mining through unstructured data like product reviews to help companies set policies and goals.

For those interested in understanding how to become a business analyst, there are a number of different options for learners. Business analytics jobs require some specialized knowledge, although you don’t necessarily need prior experience to enter the field. Depending on your career goals, you can develop your skills in a business analytics course online, or you may choose to pursue a business analytics certification or a business analytics degree.

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Business analytics course curriculum

There are all kinds of business analytics courses online, from introductory classes for general audiences to courses in advanced corporate strategy. Some business analytics tutorials are free. Other business analytics training, such as business analytics certification courses and business analytics degree programs, may require a fee. While the curriculum will vary from course to course, an introduction to data analytics basics course might cover such topics as: 

  • What data analytics is and the key steps in the data analytics process.

  • The differences between various data roles such as data engineer, data analyst, data scientist, business analyst, and business intelligence analyst.

  • An overview of the different types of data structures, file formats, and sources of data.

  • An explanation of different types of data repositories and Big Data platforms.

  • The process and tools for gathering data, wrangling data, mining and analyzing data, and visualizing data.

A more robust offering, such as a business analytics degree program, might teach you the foundational skills required for a career in business and data analysis, including knowledge of scripting languages and data analysis to solve real-world problems. A degree program curriculum may cover:

  • Developing fully functional programs using common industry tools.

  • Translating business requirements into problems that can be solved computationally.

  • Formulating questions to be solved through statistical analysis.

  • Analyzing data using statistical methods.

If you have a specific interest or are looking for specialized knowledge in a particular area, find an online business analytics course curriculum that meets your needs. Some paid or free business analytics courses may cover digital marketing analytics, enterprise data management, and financial analysis.

Discover business analytics jobs

There are many different types of business analytics jobs. Some job titles in this field include:

  • Business intelligence analyst

  • Competitive intelligence analyst

  • Data analyst

  • Intelligence analyst

  • Market intelligence analyst

  • Market intelligence consultant

  • Strategic business and technology intelligence consultant

How to become a business analyst

Business analytics requires understanding big data. But businesses want usable information that can lead to competitive advantage, not just tables of numbers. Many data analysts know how to perform predictive modeling, data visualization, and statistical analysis in order to make sense of big data and allow the rest of the company to use their meaningful findings to perform better. 

Performing these functions can require significant education. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the majority of business intelligence analysts hold at least a bachelor’s degree.² Some may pursue a bachelor’s in computer or data science, or a degree in a different but related subject, such as a bachelor’s in business administration. And, depending on their role and workplace, some may pursue a master’s degree, such as a ​​master’s degree in data science or a more general degree, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA). For those who don’t want to commit to a full degree program right away, an analytics boot camp can help build specific skills and help professionals decide whether they want to pursue further education in the field.  

Frequently asked questions

The answer to this question depends on your work experience and education. Some professionals start working in an entry-level role in business, finance, or information technology, and then build on their skill set with educational courses. Others set out to specifically learn business analytics by earning a degree in the field. The time commitment can range from three-week courses that teach common business and analysis skills to more robust degree programs that can take eight months or longer. 

Most business intelligence analysts have at least a bachelor’s degree, sometimes in a business-focused major. Some analyst positions may require a master’s degree depending on the workplace and the role.

The answer to this question depends on your background experience, education, and particular skill set. If you already have some knowledge of analytics, programming, or other key skills used by business analysts, you will have a leg up on people entering the profession from an unrelated field without relevant knowledge. edX offers a wide range of courses for those interested in becoming business analysts, including many introductory courses that do not require previous knowledge or work experience, as well as courses and certifications that build on your existing knowledge and skills.

Business analysts need to know how to generate and interpret reports summarizing business, financial, or economic data for review by their employers or clients.³ They may need to know how to use database management software, web platform development software, and various other types of software and tools to do their job.

Data analytics involves analyzing datasets to reveal trends and insights that are then used to make informed organizational decisions. Business analytics uses insights produced from data analysis to make practical, data-driven decisions within a business context. A business analyst may have more knowledge of the fundamentals of operating a business than a regular data analyst. 

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