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Program Analyst vs. Business Analyst: What Are the Differences?

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

A career in business analysis can be both challenging and rewarding. Two common roles in this field are that of a program analyst and a business analyst. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a program analyst and a business analyst, and we provide additional information on business analysis careers.

What is a Program Analyst?

Program Analysts are responsible for the coordination and analysis of programmatic data across multiple projects or departments. They use their findings to develop reports and presentations that help improve efficiency and effectiveness. Program Analysts typically have a background in business administration or a related field. They must be able to effectively communicate their findings to a variety of audiences and make recommendations based on their analysis. In some cases, Program Analysts may also be responsible for developing and implementing programmatic changes.

What is a Business Analyst?

A Business Analyst is a professional who analyzes an organization or business domain and documents its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. They also develop solution proposals for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the domain. They conduct requirement analysis and prepare requirement specification documents. They also help in the quality assurance of the delivered solution. They work very closely with the business users, stakeholders and the IT team. They also play a key role in the software development life cycle.

Program Analyst vs. Business Analyst

Here are the main differences between a program analyst and a business analyst.

Job Duties

Program analysts focus on creating and implementing programs that improve the lives of individuals, communities or entire populations. They research data to determine what issues exist in a particular demographic and create programs to address those issues. These professionals also evaluate existing programs to ensure they’re effective and make changes as necessary.

Business analysts primarily work within an organization to help it grow and succeed. They conduct business analysis to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to implement change. Additionally, these professionals use their expertise to advise leadership on important decisions that affect the company’s future.

Job Requirements

Program analysts and business analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems or another related field. They might also pursue a master’s degree to gain more advanced skills and knowledge. Many employers prefer candidates who have experience working with the specific software programs they will be using on the job. Additionally, some employers may require program analysts and business analysts to earn certifications in specific software programs.

Work Environment

Program analysts typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to visit clients and observe their operations. Business analysts often work in an office environment, but they may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They may also spend time working remotely from home offices.

Both professions require a lot of sitting at desks and using computers for data entry and analysis. Program analysts may have more physical demands because they may need to travel frequently and walk around facilities to gather information.


There are several similarities in the specific skills used on the job between program analysts and business analysts. Both roles require excellent analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They also both need to be able to effectively communicate their findings to stakeholders.

However, there are some key differences in the specific skills used on the job between these two roles. Program analysts tend to focus more on the technical aspects of a project, such as the feasibility of a proposed solution and its potential impact on other systems. They also need to have a strong understanding of computer science concepts and be able to code. Business analysts, on the other hand, focus more on the business side of things, such as identifying needs and requirements, conducting market research and developing business cases. They also need to have strong interpersonal skills to build relationships with stakeholders and understand their needs.


Program analysts can earn an average salary of $84,571 per year, while business analysts can earn an average salary of $80,401 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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