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Business Analyst vs. Data Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Business analysts and data engineers are two important roles in any company that relies on data. Business analysts use data to understand and improve business processes, while data engineers build and maintain the systems that collect and store data. Both roles are essential for a company to function effectively, but there are some key differences between them. In this article, we discuss the differences between business analysts and data engineers, and we provide some tips for choosing the right career path for you.

What is a Business Analyst?

Business Analysts are responsible for helping organizations to understand their business processes and needs. They work with stakeholders to gather requirements, document processes, and create specifications for systems and software. They also work with developers to ensure that the solutions they create meet the business needs. In addition, Business Analysts may also be responsible for testing software to ensure it meets the requirements, and for training users on how to use the new system.

What is a Data Engineer?

Data Engineers design, build, implement and maintain the architecture needed to support the data analytics process. They work with Data Architects and Data Analysts to design data models and ETL processes that meet the needs of the business. Data Engineers also develop the code needed to extract data from sources, transform it into the required format and load it into the data warehouse. They work with Big Data technologies to process large volumes of data quickly and efficiently. Data Engineers also create and maintain the data pipelines that move data between different systems.

Business Analyst vs. Data Engineer

Here are the main differences between a business analyst and a data engineer.

Job Duties

Both data engineers and business analysts have numerous duties. The major difference between the two professions is the type of tasks they perform. Business analysts focus on gathering information from executives, customers and other stakeholders to determine a company’s needs. They then use that information to develop strategies for improvement.

Data engineers work more extensively with technology. They build systems and infrastructure to support the collection, storage and retrieval of data. They also regularly update these systems to ensure efficiency.

Job Requirements

A business analyst typically needs at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics or a related field. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Business analysts can also pursue certifications through organizations like the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) or the Project Management Institute (PMI). These certifications can help business analysts stand out to potential employers and show that they have the skills needed to be successful in the role.

Data engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or a related field. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Data engineers can also pursue certifications through organizations like the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) or the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). These certifications can help data engineers stand out to potential employers and show that they have the skills needed to be successful in the role.

Work Environment

Business analysts typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients and attend meetings. They spend most of their time sitting at a desk or table and using computers to complete projects. Data engineers often work in an office environment as well, but they may also work on construction sites or other locations where they can access the equipment necessary for their job.

Business analysts usually work full-time hours during regular business days. However, data engineers may work overtime or irregular hours depending on their project deadlines.


Both business analysts and data engineers use analytical skills to examine data and draw conclusions from it. They also both need to have technical skills to be able to work with the software and tools used in their jobs. However, there are some key differences in the skills that these professionals use on a daily basis.

Business analysts typically use communication and presentation skills when they share their findings with clients or colleagues. They also use interpersonal skills when working with team members from other departments to gather information or get feedback about their projects. Data engineers, on the other hand, use programming skills to develop the systems that collect and store data. They also use database management skills to oversee the organization of data within those systems.


Business analysts can earn an average salary of $80,401 per year, while data engineers can earn an average salary of $113,717 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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