Advice On How To Become A Contract Business Analyst

Do You Want To Become A Contract Business Analyst?

Do You Want To Become A Contract Business Analyst?

I am writing this post to answer a question posted by a business analyst on “How To Become A Contract Business Analyst”.

If you have a question or challenge about your business analyst career, post it as comment at the end of this article and I will answer it for you as well :-)

Here is the question on how to become a contract business analyst.

Having recently started in my first permanent position as a Business Analyst, I find the toughest challenge for me currently, is getting up to speed with the systems I have to analyse and develop (Risk Management and Finance Systems).

Now, 5 months later, I am thoroughly enjoying my BA role and tasks.

However, I am considering moving into a contracting position. The primary reason would be for the money.

My fear however is that I would be moving into a contracting position prematurely and having read some of the posts in this string above, it seems that BA contractors have to be highly skilled.

Perhaps I should firstly ensure that my general BA skills are a lot more refined before putting myself into a position where I am required to be a specialist …

Any ideas?

The big question is, how does a hiring manager determine the skill level of a contract business analyst?

Is that determination based on the experience, number of years in the industry, certifications, educational qualifications, recommendations on LinkedIn or perhaps the quality of work the business analyst can perform?

How To Become A Contract Business Analyst

It may shock you to find out that contract business analysts can earn up to 50% more than full-time business analysts with the same skills, experience and training.

The specifics of how much more you can earn as a contract business analyst depends on the company that hires you and how good you are at negotiation.

Some companies pay at the bottom of the pay range for full-time business analyst careers while others are at the higher end of the pay range based on a business analyst salary survey.

However, even though contract business analysts are paid much more, they are required to be highly skilled, competent or expert business analysts at what they do!

That is fair, isn’t it, when you look at it from the Manager’s perspective.

The Hiring Manager who pays a contract business analyst’s salary has to pay an additional premium or bonus to a staffing or recruiting firm for hiring that additional skill level.

With this in mind, the total cost of hiring one contract business analyst may end up being up to two (2) times the salary paid for one full-time business analyst.

The manager who hires a contract business analysts has to have a good justification for paying those additional costs.

  • Business Analysis Skills

    The contract business analyst has to be highly skilled at what they do.

    If they are not that skilled, then they wouldn’t last long on a contracting gig, because hiring managers would not want to keep them on the project without getting a quick and immediate return on their investment.

    And really the surest way to justify the skill level and salary of a contract business analyst is by producing a high quality and amount of work every time.

    In other words, contract business analysts have to wow clients by solving business problems quickly and by demonstrating strong competency at routine business analysis tasks like Use Case or Requirements Documentation.

  • Business Analysis Experience

    The contract business analyst has to be highly experienced at what they do.

    This does not necessarily mean that a contract business analyst must have 10 years of experience or anything like that, but that when it comes to specific skills like Use Case Documentation or Requirements Elicitation, the contract business analyst is expected to have a breadth of experience that can only be gained by exercising those skills in several business situations in the past.

    In other words, clients don’t want their contract business analysts to use them for learning since they are expected to be experts or highly skilled professionals!

    Hiring managers think that they have already paid for a high expertise level so they want to start reaping dividends, the moment you work in through their door as a contract business analyst.

  • Business Analysis Education

    The contract business analyst has to be highly informed, trained or educated in business analysis because managers don’t expect to find gaps in the knowledge areas of their contract business analysts.

    Gaps may be tolerated in their full-time business analyst employees but not in contract business analyst jobs.

    So, you need to be at the top of your game and that includes having the requisite knowledge to get your job done quickly, excellently and without any issues.

In the end, only you can tell you whether you can make the jump to becoming a contract business analyst.

The rewards to being a contract business analyst can be really good.

You get paid a lot more ($45 to $55/hr. or even more) and you get to work on a lot of fast-paced projects where your leadership skills can be fully utilized.

However, you will also have to be highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced to succeed as a contract business analyst.

And you must be able to perform, produce results quickly or prove to everyone that you are worth your hire!

Finally, note that becoming a contract business analyst does not depend on how many years of business analysis experience you have but on how sharp your skills are!

If you have any question or challenge facing your business analysis career, go ahead and post it as a comment at the end of this article and I will address it for you.

20 Discussions for “Advice On How To Become A Contract Business Analyst”

  1. Chuck

    I am changing my career to the BA field … and i was working in the business management field for the past 7 years.

    Do you think i will be the perfect fit in this BA field since i am also planning to go thru some hard core training for at least 4-5 weeks .

  2. Mr Dean

    Hi,

    I am an experienced Business Analyst with around 7 years experience (5 of them in the field of Business Analysis) and have worked in the Transport, Utilities and currently Aerospace industires within the UK.

    My qualifications include the following;

    1st Class BSc(Hons) Computing
    ISEB Diploma Business Analysis
    Certified LEAN Sigma Green Belt
    CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting.

    I am writing because, I am at a point in my career in which I feel I want to become a contractor. Mainly, because I feel I have reached the top of my earning potential in the permanent field of Business Analysis and in the sector I work in. However, I enjoy the work of a Business Analyst, therefore wish to stay in the field. I have never contracted before, however feel my skills are at the level in which I would be able to add value on a project in the short term.

    My concerns are;
    1) Other than the being good at my job, I am not sure of the other areas I need to address in becoming a contractor i.e. Pension, Liability insurances etc.

    2) Longevity of a contract is a major concern. Will I be in and out of a job every 3 months? Probably like most contractors, I have a mortgage and a family to support. I would be interested in knowing how current BA contractors manage this.

    3) Is it a life a for a man with a wife and small child? i.e. am I likely to be travelling to find work in far destinations.

    4) Is there always a fear of job security in Contracting. How do you mitigate the risks of being out of work for long periods.

    5) How does being in contract work affect ability to get credit. e.g. If I want to get a mortgage in the future, will the fact I am only contracted for 3 months cause me problems.

    6) How do I know if I’m really good enough if I have never contracted before?

    7) Should I forget becoming a contractor and work on increasing my earning potential through gaining more qualifications/experience in the permanent role. e.g. Should I gain an MBA (from a reputable uni) to further my earning potential?

    I have more concerns, but will leave it there for now. I think I am just looking for some advice from a current BA Contractor who probably went through the same type of thinking before they took the plunge.

    The posts I have read so far are great, however would really appreciate some comments on the above and may be some advice on how to proceed in my career.

    Many thanks.

    • It is typical for experienced business analysts to become contract business analysts so they can earn more money or lift the ceiling on their salaries.

      #1: Where To Gain Business Analysis Domain Experience As A Contractor

      Analyze the UK Economy to find out the sectors that are hiring. Based on these sectors, you can figure out the type of business analysis domain experience that is relevant to your industry.

      One domain that hires a lot of business analysts is the “Software Development / Web Development Domain”.

      #2: What Is The Longevity of a Business Analyst Consultant Job:
      Contracting positions should be six months or longer. I would advice you to stay away from contracting jobs that are 3 months because they are just too short to get anything done.

      When you hear that a contracting job is just 3 months” or maybe longer, a number of concerns come to mind:

      a.) There is going to be a lot more pressure to perform and a lot more stress.

      These kinds of jobs are probably not the kind of professional jobs you are looking for except when you are just starting out or looking to get experience in a new domain.

      For someone who has worked in the business analysis industry for as long as you have, you need to be selective in the kind of jobs you accept.

      On the other hand, business analyst jobs that last 1 or 2 years and even more are both common and desirable.

      Contracting jobs have longevity. They typically don’t last as long as full-time jobs but they last long enough to be meaningful.

      How do business analyst contractors handle the shorter employment periods of contracting jobs?

      a.) By billing a lot more:
      Assuming that as a business analyst, you earn $65.000 (USD) or £41,675 (British Pounds). When you become a contract business analyst, you may want to earn as much as 20 percent to 20 percent more!

      That extra money is not to be invested in your lifestyle, buying a bigger house or more cars … but to be put away in a savings / investment account.

      The reason is that contractors sometimes have down-times in between assignments. These downtimes may be as much as one month.

      A down-time is the time between projects, contracts or jobs when you are looking for the next gig or assignment or project.

      An experienced contractor will use the down-time to learn a new skill or sharpen an existing skill.Learning a new (marketable) skill or sharpening an existing skill, means that you will have less and less of a downtime and that you will be paid more and more.

      So, it is not uncommon to see contractors who earn 50% more than their full-time contemporaries because they have more marketable skills (quantity) and because they have sharper skills (quality).

      #3: Traveling for Contractors:

      Contractors are not required to travel except if:

      a.) They don’t have marketable skills and because of that, they have to travel to different locations to get a job

      b.) They choose to travel because they like traveling. There are lots of jobs that do not involve traveling. Most employers will be frank with you before you are hired by telling you if they want you to travel or not.

      If you find yourself in that situation, just be frank and tell the employer that you don’t want to travel during the job interview.

      Keep in mind, that jobs that require traveling will typically say that in the jib description. So, ask questions if you see that, clarify the intentions of the employer or the traveling demands of the job and say NO, at the job interview before you are hired if you don’t want to travel.

      If you find yourself traveling, then you either have the wrong skillsets or you have the wrong job.

      Finally, don’t be worried about traveling, it is more of an exception than a requirement.

      #5: How does contacting affect your credit:
      As a contractor, you actually have a job and your bank, financial institution or creditors can call your staffing company and verify your employment history and salary.

      Most contractors work through a staffing / contracting agency. So, you have a job just like most people.

      If you are working for yourself, or you are billing the employer directly, you may have a tougher time getting credit because you are essentially self-employed.

      However, the norm is for you to work through a contacting / staffing company.

      You also have to manage your contracting profile. Let’s say that you use the same staffing agency all the time, then your employment profile will be the same even when you change clients, because the same staffing company is your employer.

      However, if you change staffing agencies every time you change jobs, your work profile may look less stable.

      However, getting credit for a contractor is usually just as good as getting credit for a full-time employee because you earn a lot more and you have more savings and that balances out the employment gaps on your resume.

      #6: Are you good enough to be a contractor?

      Contractors are the most skilled people on the team and they are also the top performers.

      Contractors are the most knowledgeable, professionals and they always stay ahead of the technology curve.

      Read this post titled: “Can You Perform, Prove It”:
      http://www.it-career-coach.net/2009/05/26/can-you-perform-prove-it/

      #7: You can get an MBA or a post-graduate degree if you want to. But college education is not the same thing as functional skill. I would advice you to pay a lot of attention to your functional skills / education.

      Read these posts:

      Stuck In A College Mindset After Graduation”

      Can Certifications Take the Place of Experience?

      Is An MBA Required For Business Analyst Jobs?

  3. shashikanth

    hi,
    i hav 2 yr domain exp in banking..and hav worked in the core bankin soln process installation n trouble shootin the prob in banking…but i wish to become a business analyst with the domain exp…so can u pls suggest me how do i do it..n wat should i work on to win a job soon…pls do help me out if any vacancies or opportunities..
    thanking u

    shashikanth:) :) :*

  4. Rahul T

    Hi,
    I am working with JP Morgan for the past 9 months, I have done my Graduation in Computer Science and joined this firm in application packaging.

    My current role has nothing to do with Analysis, but I would like to be focused on the role of business analyst.

    I need a bunch of advise, starting from how i should set my goals, what all certifications and programs will assist me in shaping up a career, I have good programming and analytical skills.

    But I seriously need to focus on this. The factor which I am worried about is my short career, even colleagues parents and friends are advising to grow slow, but i know that its not a matter of growth but an achievement.

    When I went through the forum it motivated me a lot and I want to start my learning curve.

    So please assist me.

  5. Chloey

    I would like to re-enter the IT world.

    I previosly worked as a computer programmer for 6 years with the same company. It was hard to find a job in the IT field after being laid-off back in 2004.

    I have an associates degree in Information System. I am currently in school for a bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems.

    Currently, I am working on a three week assignment for a temporary agency doing accounts payable work, that has lasted three years. I help them out every now and then with IT issues.

    The temporary agency I work for does hire IT professionals. I got them to interview me, they recommended I get an A+ certification.

    My goal is to become a business analysis. I would definitely appreciate you opinion.

    Thanks.

    • Computer Programmers are the HOTTEST TECH WORKERS in the Information & Technology Age, especially here in the United States.

      If you have worked as a computer programmer and you are having problems getting back into the Job Market, your skills are either RUSTY / OUT-DATED or you have WEAK INTERVIEWING SKILLS.

      The good news is that either of these can be fixed or resolved and they don’t have to keep you away from getting an entry-level programming job that pays at least $60K WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF LEARNING AN IN-DEMAND PROGRAMMING SKILLS like C#, ASP.NET & SQL SERVER.

      If your goal is to become a business analyst as opposed to getting a job quickly and becoming gainfully employed, then you may have to take a different route … the route of Learning Business Analysis and then carefully going through your resume to outline all those tasks that you performed during your career as a computer programmer that can also be transferred to a Business Analysis Career … Please read this post: “Can A Developer Make A Good Business Analyst.

      Do not waste your time with an A+ Certification and I REPEAT, DO NOT GET AN A+ CERTIFICATION … based on your career profile and all the past experience or skills that you developed working as a computer programmer, that path will take you NOWHERE …

      Good Luck and Best Wishes

  6. Utkarsh Mahajan

    Hi There,

    I am working as Business Analyst contractor from last 3 years. I worked with 3 different IT companies and i am totally agree with your ideology about contractors.

    There are some issues which i want to discuss with all of you when you work as contractor in some big companies.

    Always remember when you work as an contractor you help the client to execute his project and make him successful. You get paid for helping client in his work not to prove that you are smarter than client or not to use your logic on the project.

    As you enter in some company as a new contractor your skills mostly matters but this is not defining that you are a good Business Analyst.

    A domain knowledge about the industry really matters and when you start somewhere as a new contractor you have to learn the system they use, the functionalities of the system so you can start work on the requirements, use cases etc. and after some months when you get the knowledge of the system then its time to move on the next contract and start the process again from scratch.

    Sometimes it is really good for the experience that you are learning so many systems or different technologies but disadvantage is you are not becoming a magnate Business Analyst .

    Your analytical skills will never get sharp as you are working on a contract and you do not have a complete knowledge of any system until the contract is for 2 or 3 years which is very rare in this job.

    As an Business Analyst you need an assistance of everyone in your project including Developer, Architecture, QA etc. So when you enter in a new company you have to understand the nature of different people and how to take work from them.

    Always remember a successful Business Analyst always needs this skill to execute his work in project but it is not so easy as its look like . It takes months to build relations with your client team and when you are on the same track with them and then its time to move on the next project and start from the scratch.

    The glib is Business Analyst job is like a glamorous job for me it is not like a developer or Tester which do same things every single day for so many years. So you have to be very very SMART if you want to be an contractor and to face all these kinds of challenges.

    Please let me know if i am wrong somewhere.

    Thanks.

    Utkarsh Mahajan

    • Utkarsh, I love your analysis on how to become a contract business analyst. All your points are right on the mark especially your comments about not trying to prove the client wrong and the Business Analyst right, being very very smart and working hard to establish client relationships which are often short lived when compared to software developer or tester jobs … good post :-)

  7. kintu vicent

    from kintu vicent,

    does bussiness analytists good for entreprenuers like supermarket owners,how?

    also how is it better than business administration and management in bussiness?

    give me samples of real application of it in bussiness analysing ,suppose with figures also how it can be used in worldly economics and evaluation of risk-takingof starting a new project?

    • Kintu:

      I answered your question here” http://www.it-career-coach.net/2009/07/03/alternate-career-paths-for-business-analysts/

      Please refer the article to your friends using the “Tell a Friend” button

      Thank you

    • shashi

      Hi, I want to make my career in the field of Business Analyst., Could you please provide me some information so i can follow the path,

      please find the below the exp detail of mine.
      SHASHIDHAR T

      PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
      Having overall 3.9 years of experience, I undergone to various roles & responsibility like – campaigning events, Support, Project effort and cost estimates, lead generation, email campaign, market study (segments), company profiling, project costing, team management, requirements gathering (client interfacing), requirements analysis, documentation, presentation, Coordinate with teams like IT, Development, Training and Development, team handling, data processing/validation, preparing RFP/RFQ and Tenders for private and government organizations, event handling, internet marketing, PPT preparing/presentation, training & development for new joiners, report generation (daily, weekly, monthly and completed event report).

      OBJECTIVE:
      To take a challenging role as a Business Analyst and give an efficient and effective solution that would help the organization to achieve the best solution in business which would increase its productivity in market. Meanwhile want to work with a high level people to understand learn new strategy so I can implement in relevant situations.

      GOAL:
      Become a Business Enterprise Analyst.

      EDUCATION:
      Master of Business Administration, International Business, IIBR Pune, 2006
      Master of Personal Management, Human Resource, Pune University, 2006
      Bachelor of Commerce, Gulbarga University, 2003

      SOFTWARE SKILLS:
      Well versed with Microsoft Office Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word,
      Windows OS – 98/2000, 2003, XP.
      Diploma in Computer Software from Aptech Computer.
      Basics of VB, MS-Access, DBMS, SQL, HTML.
      SAS (Learning)

      SOFT SKILLS:
      Self Motivator/Quick Learner
      Coordination between management and technical teams
      Eager to learn new technology and work on that
      Report generation
      Ready to take up responsibility
      Completion of work at a given period of time
      Good communication (verbal, written)
      Time management
      Documentation
      Hard worker
      Database maintenance
      Team player
      Achieve the target at a given period of time

      WORK HISTORY:

      TATA Elxsi Pvt Ltd., Bangalore, India.
      Executive – Business Development (Dec 2008 – Present)
      Responsibility:
      Market Study (Segments), Company Profiling, Project effort and cost estimates, Team Management, Requirements Gathering (Client Interfacing), Requirements Analysis, Drafting Project Brief, Documentation, Presentation, Coordinate with teams like IT, Development, Email campaign, Online Marketing, Internet Marketing, Pres Sales activities, Responding to RFP/RFI, Preparing Proposal/Tenders, Lead Validation, Understanding Client Requirements, Market Research and getting new account to organization, finding out new opportunity from new client.

      ICMG India Pvt Ltd., Bangalore, India
      Business Consultant (Sept 2007- Dec 2008)
      Responsibility:
      Event Management, Lead Generation, Online Marketing, SEO (partly), Team Handling, Preparing PPT’s, Preparing Business Strategies and Functional Process, working closely with Managers and CMO to understand the various business strategies and functions in detail. Implementation of new ideas explores possible business opportunity making use of free sources to mitigating the company expenses. I learned a lot from my roles and responsibility say leadership quality, team handling, solving the problems, generating validated leads, coordination with management and team member, document maintenance, market understanding, business strategy, business process planning and many more activities.

      ACTO Information System, Bangalore, India
      Marketing Executive (May 2006- June 2007)
      Responsibility:
      Involved in various activities of marketing life cold calling, fixing up meeting, clients meet, presentation, proposal making, trouble-shooting and customer service

  8. Sri

    Hi Kingsley,
    I like your articles and posts and look forward to a good advise from you on the following :

    The toughest challenge for me is to get back into Business Analysis after working for just less than 2 yrs where my domain was government sector projects and a dash of incomplete healthcare knowledge.

    I ‘m neither a fresher nor an experienced guy with very less domain exp. I mostly get healthcare projects ( since my last project was on health care domain) where my knowledge is inadequate and companies do not want to employ me for the same.How can I bag such jobs when the domain knowlege is lacking? or how can I convince that my BA skills are good enough for the new domain?

    I am not sure what additional skills I need to gain to be employable.Should I gain any technical knowledge or do IIBA certifications?

    Please advise.
    Thanks

  9. Ameera

    The toughest challenge facing me is “the transition from Senior Business Analyst to Lead Analyst”

  10. Cams

    Hello,

    My carrier in Business/System Analyst for 7 years, and currently my position is Software Quality Manager for 9 months. I’m 31 years old.

    I want to facing my challenges career in communication skills, leadership skills, and management skills.

    I live in Indonesia but from 2001 I work at foreign company, and currently my office in Singapore. So I want to compete in overseas environment i.e. U.S.A or Europe.

    Thank you,

    Cams

    • Competing in overseas environments like the USA or Europe with language, communication or culture skills fro, Singapore is going to be a good but not duanting or impossible challenge, so go for it.

      The obvious first step is to move your job to Europe Canada or USA because there are so many nuances and cultural differences that you cannot learn these environments from a school … you have to be totally immersed in the culture here to understand it.

      While you are still based in Indonesia / Singapore, attend communication & leadership training from a place like Toastmasters. The focus extensively on speaking / presentation training which can be of use to you immediately you get here.

      Another step you can take is to learn everything that you can about business analysis while you are still based in Singapore / Indonesia that way, when you travel, you will just focus on closing the gap in the language / cultural differences and not be burdened with trying to accomplish both …

      Good Luck and Best Wishes

  11. Cams:

    I need more background information to answer your question.

    Cams:

    What type of career are you in (business analysis, web design, project management, computer programming) … ?

    In what areas of your career are you facing these challenges (communication skills, etc.)?

    What country do you live in?

    Thank you

  12. Cams

    Hello,

    I think the the toughest challenge facing my career is compete in overseas environment career, especially working with the best people in the world of my career.

    Maybe you can give me some advice or tips to struggle with that?

    Thank You,

    Cams

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