Everyone wants to be James Bond — using logic, charisma, and fancy gadgets to overcome terrorists and crime syndicates around the world — but the life of a spy isn’t nearly as glamorous as the movies make it. Spies must be nameless and faceless, able to blend into diverse situations without suspicion. More often than not, spies work solo in foreign countries, which means they can be isolated from friends and friendly faces for years at a time.
Worst of all, spies don’t even earn particularly high salaries; the average CIA special agent takes home roughly $70,000 every year. However, there is a type of intelligence agent who has the potential to earn much more: business intelligence professionals. Those who have the desire to lead a spy’s life, but with a comfortable desk chair need look no farther than this ever-growing field.
What Business Intelligence Professionals Do
Government intelligence agents are tasked with safeguarding the nation’s secrets and uncovering valuable information around the globe — and business intelligence professionals do much the same thing. However, how they go about it is remarkably different.
The modern business world is informed by “big data,” which is an underwhelming name for the nearly unending amounts of information companies collect to help them perform better. Big data continues to grow exponentially, as the Internet allows consumers and producers to exchange limitless material, and as it expands, big data becomes more and more unmanageable for corporations looking to benefit from it.
It is the task of the business intelligence professional to sort through big data, organize it, and analyze it for the betterment of their employers and the economy as a whole.
How to Break Into the Business Intelligence Field
There are a handful of innate qualities that make for an excellent business intelligence agent. Logic and organization are essential to the field, as are self-discipline and self-regulation. Usually, those with backgrounds in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields are most adept at business intelligence tasks. Additionally, those coming from a military background make excellent business intelligence professionals, and those who ascended to the officer ranks will excel as managers and directors in these departments.
Employers across the board require an undergraduate degree from prospective applicants. Though STEM degrees are perhaps most applicable because they provide ample experience with hard data, those who have backgrounds in less-related subjects — in fields like political science, education, and even music — can still find positions in business intelligence by returning to school for an advanced degree in a related program.
Graduate certificates in business information and analytics may be a stepping-stone for those who are interested in the field but as yet lack the resources or experience to commit to a full graduate program. However, a business intelligence professional will certainly provide the most opportunity on the job market.
Where to Find Business Intelligence Jobs
As big data swells, so too does the country’s need for qualified business intelligence professionals to tame it. In the next four years, experts predict that the United States will need an additional 190,000 workers and 1.5 million managers skilled in business intelligence to address companies’ needs.
To say the least, business intelligence professionals are highly sought commodities who can find employment nearly anywhere they look. In fact, hundreds of companies are attempting to attract business intelligence students even before their graduation with offers of high salaries, extensive benefits, and other alluring opportunities.
Because the business intelligence field is rather young, job titles and descriptions continue to develop. During job searches, business intelligence professionals should be flexible in their expectations — and their wording. For example, business intelligence jobs can be described as analysis, marketing, communication, management, and more. Common titles are “database administrator,” “data architect,” and “database software engineer,” but they can be more or less obviously related to the intelligence field depending on who posts the ad.
Additionally, every industry is hankering for business intelligence professionals; business intelligence professionals are often hired by companies as diverse as:
- Food companies
- Oil companies
- Investment brokerages
- Communications providers
- Health care facilities
- Insurance brokerages
- Online retailers
- Multi-media corporations
- And more
Ultimately, working as a business intelligence professional is much more profitable and far less risky than becoming a spy. The field is growing at an astounding rate, and nearly every graduate with an advanced degree in business intelligence is guaranteed a high-paying, rewarding position in the industry of their choice. Plus, with enough notoriety, some business intelligence agents might even earn their own theme songs.