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How do I get experience for a business intelligence job?

IT professionals who want to move into business intelligence roles should take classes, advises careers expert Matt Mueller -- or accept an entry-level position.

In today's IT labor marketplace, when organizations are looking to fill a business intelligence job above entry level, most want to hire BI professionals who can "hit the ground running." The "I want it now" culture is definitely where we are at nowadays among employers offering higher-level BI jobs.

Within the last few years, companies have been going back to hiring entry-level BI workers straight out of college and training them on the business skills they need to be successful in their organizations. Rarely, though, do we find organizations willing to hire the "good athletes" and train them on the technical skills a job requires. I think this is where a lot of companies are missing the boat on top technical talent. Many BI technologies are similar to one another, and if someone understands the fundamentals, it should not take too long to get up to speed on a particular BI tool, database or platform.

The best avenue for professionals who started in other areas but want to transition into a business intelligence job is moving within your current company and taking classes, training and courses in BI. If you are not too far along in your career, companies may either hire or transfer you into one of their entry-level programs. Make your desire known to the appropriate BI managers in your current company -- let them know that you are very serious about your interest in BI, and are investing in educating yourself.

If you don't have, at the very least, a technical background and/or education, it is really going to be difficult to move into anything except an entry-level BI job, which will likely come with an entry-level salary. I do feel very strongly that a move into business intelligence is a very sound career decision -- as with just about anything else; however, you typically need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

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