Business Analytics vs. Data Analytics: Definitions and Career Paths

January 25, 2022

Companies and business organizations are constantly searching for new ways to innovate, adapt, and find efficient strategies for success. As many move online and begin to utilize data analytics to discover what is and is not working for them, the demand for qualified and experienced business analysts and data analysts rises. 

Professionals looking to advance their careers in one of these fields should consider the key elements of business analytics vs. data analytics. Whether they prefer to work exclusively with data or in client-facing roles, a variety of possibilities are open to analytics professionals. In both cases, an advanced degree in strategic leadership and business analytics can help them develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed, allowing graduates to pursue an exciting and in-demand career in analytics. 

What Is the Difference Between Business Analytics and Data Analytics?

Business analysts and data analysts play crucial roles in an organization’s success. While the two paths may appear to entail many of the same duties and responsibilities, the difference between business analytics and data analytics lies in the focus of those responsibilities and the information collected. 

Business analytics professionals focus on the big picture of the business itself, utilizing the data compiled by data analysts to measure the success of a business, while data analysts focus on the collection and organization of that data. When these analysts work together, management professionals can understand what organizational aspects are working and which need improvement.

Business leaders looking to advance their careers in analytics need to understand the scope of each field in order to choose the path that’s right for them. 

Business Analytics

Responsible for monitoring an organization’s overall success, business analysts measure its progress and profitability through the examination of both internal and external data. With the ability to find which elements of an organization are working and which ones are underperforming, business analysts can advise it on productive next steps. 

Business analysts may work in independent or customer-facing capacities. For this reason, when looking at business analysts vs. data analysts, one of the larger differences is the need for business analysts to cultivate both hard and soft skills. While both fields require analysts to be able to understand, interpret, and make strategic suggestions based on data analysis, business analysts must have the leadership and communication skills required to impart those suggestions. 

Data Analytics

Expert data analysts are in high demand in many companies and across a broad variety of industries. As organizations become increasingly digital and find new and innovative ways to utilize data in their business strategies, the professionals who can organize, interpret, and make suggestions from that data become increasingly valuable. 

Data analysts focus on an organization’s data and technical systems, collecting information and analyzing it for strengths and weaknesses. With advanced technical skills, they can help organizations make sense of huge quantities of data, such as finding patterns or anomalies and formulating successful strategies based on them.

Business Analytics vs. Data Analytics: Salary and Career Outlook

Choosing between careers in business analytics vs. data analytics can be complex. While professionals in these two fields may work together at times, the career options available and the day-to-day responsibilities of business and data analysts can differ significantly. From working closely with data to serving in more client-facing roles, a variety of promising careers are available to analytics graduates. 

Data and Management Analysts

Data analysts help businesses understand and interpret large swaths of data with many advanced technical skills. In management roles, they analyze data and recommend ways in which a business can improve its efficiency. Typically, most management analysts have at minimum a bachelor’s degree; however, those in supervisory roles often have advanced degrees, as well as work experience. 

PayScale reports that data analysts earned a median annual salary of approximately $62,500 as of December 2021. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts earned a median annual salary of $87,600 as of May 2020. The BLS also projects jobs in this field to grow by 14% between 2020 and 2030. 

Data Scientists and Engineers

Responsible for modeling, processing, and examining data, data scientists and engineers are highly skilled professionals who can combine different aspects of computer science, mathematics, and statistical analysis. Broadly speaking, data scientists design frameworks for analysis, and data engineers maintain them. Due to the complex and nuanced nature of their work, data scientists and engineers have at minimum a bachelor’s degree and typically pursue master’s degrees or other advanced education programs to qualify and remain competitive in their field. 

With extensive training and education, experienced data scientists earned a median annual salary of $98,230 as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Data engineers earned a median annual salary of approximately $93,000 as of December 2021, according to PayScale. While the BLS does not provide job growth information on data scientists and engineers, it predicts the employment of computer and information research scientists to grow by 22% between 2020 and 2030. 

Business Consultants and Analysts

These roles offer aspects of both business analytics and data analytics. While data analysts deal more exclusively with mathematical figures and statistics, business consultants and analysts both utilize data and work in customer-facing roles. Through strong communication skills and advanced knowledge of business analysis, consultants and analysts can advise individuals and organizations on how to best move forward in the interest of growing their business or profits. 

According to PayScale, business analysts earned a median annual salary of approximately $62,600 as of December 2021. Business consultants, on the other hand, earned a median annual salary of around $75,900 as of December 2021, according to PayScale.  

Market Research Analysts

Deciding when or whether to buy or sell a product or service takes a thorough understanding of the sales market. Market research analysts study relevant markets and advise companies on how best to move forward with the products and services they offer. Employed throughout different industries and areas of the sales market, market research analysts normally have at minimum a bachelor’s degree and can find employment in a variety of organizations. 

The BLS reports that market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $65,810 as of May 2020, with a projected job growth of 22% between 2020 and 2030.

Become a Leader in Analytics

Business analysts and data analysts have the opportunity to lead organizations forward. By understanding how decisions have affected organizations, analytics professionals can put strategies into place that guide them to success. For future leaders considering an advanced degree in business analytics vs. data analytics, the career opportunities available to graduates span all types of industries, providing them with a variety of options to reach their professional goals.

With its fully online program, career-focused curriculum, and experienced faculty, the online Master of Science in Strategic Leadership and Business Analytics from Athens State University was designed to prepare you with a strategic understanding of data analysis and real-world skills to find success. Discover what you can do with a degree from Athens State and how you can reach the next level in your business career.   

Recommended Readings

5 Business Administration Careers for Future Leaders

Benefits of a Business Analytics Degree

Data-Driven Leadership: How to Maximize Data in Business and Healthcare


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Investopedia, “Business Analyst: Career Path and Qualifications”

Investopedia, “Data Analyst: Career Path and Qualifications”

PayScale, Average Business Analyst (Unspecified Type) Salary

PayScale, Average Business Consultant Salary

PayScale, Average Data Analyst Salary

PayScale, Average Data Engineer Salary

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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data Scientists and Mathematical Science Occupations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Market Research Analysts