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

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

If you’re interested in a career in business or data analysis, you may be wondering whether a research analyst or business analyst role is right for you. Both positions require strong analytical and research skills, but there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we compare and contrast research analysts and business analysts, including job duties, education requirements and salary expectations.

What is a Research Analyst?

Research Analysts collect, analyze and interpret data to help their clients, employers or the general public better understand an issue or solve a problem. They use a variety of data sources, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, market research, business records and government statistics. Research Analysts typically specialize in a particular industry, such as healthcare, finance or marketing. They often use statistical software to analyze their data and may create charts, graphs or reports to present their findings. Research Analysts typically work in office settings, but may also work from home.

What is a Business Analyst?

A Business Analyst is a professional who is responsible for analyzing an organization or business domain and documenting its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology. They also gather, analyze and document requirements for new systems or for changes to existing ones, as well as performing cost-benefit analyses to determine if a proposed system or change is worth the investment. Business Analysts work with stakeholders to understand the needs of the business and then work with technical staff to develop solutions that meet those needs. They also play a key role in testing new systems before they are implemented to ensure that they meet the requirements.

Research Analyst vs. Business Analyst

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

Job Duties

Business analysts perform many of the same tasks as research analysts, but their duties are more focused on gathering information and data. Research analysts use that data to determine a company’s needs and develop strategies for improvement. Their job duties may include conducting surveys, interviews and focus groups. Business analysts also evaluate products and services, but they do so with an eye toward implementation. They may devise strategies for implementation and communicate those strategies to other departments.

Job Requirements

Research analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. Many research analyst positions require a master’s degree as well. Common majors for research analysts include economics, mathematics, statistics and finance. Research analysts might also pursue certifications through professional organizations, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation offered by the CFA Institute.

Business analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Business analysts might also pursue certifications through professional organizations, such as the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

Work Environment

Research analysts typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients and conduct research. Business analysts often work in an office environment, but they may also visit client sites or attend meetings to discuss projects. Both professionals may work long hours during busy periods, such as when a project is nearing completion.

Business analysts usually have more freedom than research analysts because of the nature of their jobs. Research analysts are subject to strict confidentiality policies that limit their ability to share information about their projects. Business analysts can use their knowledge of business processes to help companies improve efficiency and productivity.


Both research analysts and business analysts use analytical skills to examine data and draw conclusions. They also both use communication skills to present their findings to clients or colleagues. However, there are some key differences in the specific skills each type of analyst uses.

A research analyst is going to need to be skilled in research methods, such as surveys, interviews and focus groups. They will also need to know how to use statistical software programs to analyze data. A business analyst, on the other hand, needs to be skilled in project management. They need to understand how to create timelines, manage budgets and coordinate teams. They may also need to have programming skills to develop prototypes or test new software applications.


The average salary for a research analyst is $68,414 per year, while the average salary for a business analyst is $80,401 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the industry in which you work, your level of experience and your location.


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