Top 3 Certifications for a Business Analyst





Before heading towards discussing the various Business Analyst certifications, let’s contemplate the reasons/advantages of earning the coveted ‘Certified’ tag after your name:

  • Opposed to a graduation course, certifications are specially tailored to impart the practical analysis knowledge and improves the on-job performance and analysis efficiency of the recipient
  • Certifications are industry recognized and Certified professional boasts a professional level of Business Analysis competency and an acquired ability to apply the analysis concepts into practice
  • In absence of related analysis experience, certifications become an apt platform for switching between career streams (For example, Software engineers/developers/Test associate intending to switch to a Business Analyst role)
  • Certifications are self-learning, self-paced and can be balanced while working on a full time job as well.
  • BA professionals with a recognized analysis certification enjoy a higher salary when compared to the non-certified peers with same experience and skills.

With all these advantages and a promise of a fulfilling career ahead, it’s no wonder that today more and more working professionals are going in for Professional Business Analysis certifications.

Before I forget, you can download a PDF copy of this BA Certification Guide by just filling in the form at the end of this article !!

Business Analysis Certifications

We will now discuss the major, industry recognized Analysis certifications, their prerequisites, application process and all the other related information. They are :

  1. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®)
  2. Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA®)
  3. PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®

Let’s take a deep dive understanding each of these certifications one by one.

1. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®)

CBAP is one of the most popular and widely respected professional certification in Business Analysis that is awarded by International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) in English, Japanese and German languages. CBAP certification program started in the November, 2006 and currently the CBAP registry shows 6,041 recipients with their certification having an Active status.

IIBA® is an independent, non-profit professional association serving the growing field of business analysis and it’s the first organization to offer the formal certification for business analysis professionals.

The CBAP exam is based on the ‘Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®’ or commonly called BABOK® Guide which is the collection of knowledge within the profession of business analysis and contains six knowledge areas plus underlying competencies. The CBAP is a computer based exam conducted at Prometric testing locations throughout the world.

According to CBAP-Handbook by IIBA, the CBAP® certification is targeted to senior business analysts only. IIBA’s Certification of Competency in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) certification is for experienced business analysts who have acquired core BA skills.

Eligibility Criteria for CBAP®

Since the professionals seeking to receive the CBAP certifications are expected to be well versed in the field of business and requirement analysis, elicitation, solution assessment and validation, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum 7500 hours of BA work experience aligned with the BABOK® Guide in the last 10 years
  • Minimum 900 hours in each of four of the six knowledge areas
  • Minimum 21 hours of Professional Development in the past four years
  • Two references from a career manager, client or CBAP® recipient
  • Signed Code of Conduct

Apart from this, there is a minimum educational requirement of High school or equivalent education.

CBAP Application Process

After validating whether you are actually eligible to receive the CBAP certification, starts the application process. The complete process is sub-divided into a number of steps which are detailed below.

Step 1: Apply for the CBAP exam

The applicant has to apply for the exam by duly filling the CBAP® Application Form online. In this application form one must justify the minimum of 7500 hours of BA work experience, minimum 900 hours in each of four of the six knowledge areas and at least 21 hours of Professional Development in the past four years.

The CBAP application fee is $125 USD (plus GST/HST for Canadian residents) and is non-refundable (irrespective of whether the application is Accepted or Rejected)

One must be careful while filling the application as each application is carefully assessed by IIBA and might even be rejected if any of the eligibility criteria was not properly fulfilled. Once rejected, the applicant has to wait for 3 months before re-applying and has to rectify the cause of the initial rejection of his application.

Step 2: Pay the CBAP exam fees and register

The following is the non-reimbursable fee (irrespective of whether the application passes the exam or not) for the CBAP exam for English and Japanese languages:

For IIBA members – $325.00 USD

For non-members – $450.00 USD

The fee can be paid through a Credit Card, by PayPal or by a cheque/money order payable to IIBA.

After paying the fee, the candidate has to register at a Prometric Computer based testing (CBT) center and choose the exam venue, day and time slot.

Step 3: Prepare and appearing for the CBAP Exam

The CBAP exam consists of 150 MCQ (multiple choice questions) which have to be answered in 3 hours 30 minutes and are based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) Guide’s 6 knowledge areas. The exam contains direct, situational, scenario based and comprehension type questions and requires a thorough knowledge, understanding and application of the complete gamut of business analysis principles.

If the candidate does not passes the exam, he is allowed to re-take the exam but there should be a minimum of 3 months gap between the original exam date and the retake date. Also, he is allowed to re-write the exam within the one year period from the date of their application approval. The fees for re-taking the exam are:

For IIBA members – $250.00 USD

For non-members – $375.00 USD

The CBAP exam needs to be renewed every three years and requires a certain count of CDU (Continuing Development Units) to display that the candidate is undergoing continuous learning and professional service activities.

The CBAP is the most widely respected Business Analysis certification and given the difficult nature of the exam, failing it in the first attempt is not that uncommon. But, what if one doesn’t cut-in the eligibility requirements and criteria of appearing in the CBAP exam? Well, IIBA offers yet another certification and it’s called Certification of Competency in Business AnalysisTM (CCBA®). Read on to know more about it.




2. Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA®)

CCBA is yet another certification by IIBA which is designed and tailored for less seasoned professional who are having relatively lesser experience in the field of Business Analysis. When compared to CBAP, the certification eligibility criteria is more relaxed for CCBA and the applicant must have a minimum 3750 hours of business analysis work experience in the last seven years.

Eligibility Criteria for CCBA®

The eligibility criteria for Business Analysis professionals seeking the CCBA certification is:

  • Minimum 3750 hours of BA work experience aligned with the BABOK® Guide in the last seven years
  • Minimum 900 hours in each of two of the six knowledge areas, or 500 hours in each of four of the six knowledge areas
  • Minimum 21 hours of Professional Development in the past four years
  • Two references from a career manager, client or CBAP® recipient
  • Signed Code of Conduct

You may notice that the above described eligibility criteria is more or less on the same lines as that of the CBAP certification, however, the difference lies at the reduction in minimum hours of BA work experience and the ‘Minimum 900 hours’ criteria is reduced from ‘four’ knowledge areas to ‘two’.

CBAP Application Process

After validating whether you are actually eligible to receive the CCBA certification, starts the application process. The complete process is sub-divided into a number of steps which are detailed below.

Step 1: Apply for the CCBA exam

The applicant has to apply for the exam by duly filling the CCBA® Application Form online. In this application form one must justify the above described eligibility criteria by detailing the professional experience and knowledge area requirements

The CCBA application fee is $125 USD (plus GST/HST for Canadian residents) and is non-refundable (irrespective of whether the application is Accepted or Rejected)

One must be careful while filling the application as each application is carefully assessed by IIBA and might even be rejected if any of the eligibility criteria was not properly fulfilled. Once rejected, the applicant has to wait for 3 months before re-applying and has to rectify the cause of the initial rejection of his application.

Step 2: Pay the CBAP exam fees and register

The following is the non-reimbursable fee (irrespective of whether the application passes the exam or not) for the CBAP exam for English and Japanese languages:

For IIBA members – $325.00 USD

For non-members – $450.00 USD

The fee can be paid through a Credit Card, by PayPal or by a cheque/money order payable to IIBA.

After paying the fee, the candidate has to register at a Prometric Computer based testing (CBT) center and choose the exam venue, day and time slot.

Step 3: Prepare and appearing for the CBAP Exam

The CBAP exam consists of 150 MCQ (multiple choice questions) which have to be answered in 3 hours 30 minutes and are based on the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) Guide’s 6 knowledge areas. The exam contains direct, situational, scenario based and comprehension type questions and requires a thorough knowledge, understanding and application of the complete gamut of business analysis principles.

If the candidate does not passes the exam, he is allowed to re-take the exam but there should be a minimum of 3 months gap between the original exam date and the retake date. Also, he is allowed to re-write the exam within the one year period from the date of their application approval. The fees for re-taking the exam are:

For IIBA members – $250.00 USD

For non-members – $375.00 USD

The CBAP exam needs to be renewed every three years and requires a certain count of CDU (Continuing Development Units) to display that the candidate is undergoing continuous learning and professional service activities.





3. PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®

Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) is another prestigious certificate in the Business Analyst league and is offered to professionals dealing with requirement management, requirement elicitation, business analysis and driving business results.

Quoting PMI website “PMI or Project Management Institute is a premier not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program and portfolio management profession. Founded in 1969, PMI delivers value for more than 2.9 million professionals working in nearly every country in the world through global advocacy, collaboration, education and research”. Apart from PBA, PMI also offers other certifications in Project management, Risk management and Scheduling management like the world renowned Project Management Professional (PMP) certification for Project Managers.

Eligibility Criteria for PMI-PBA®

The eligibility criteria for Business Analysis professionals seeking the PMI-PBA certification is different for individuals having a secondary degree when compared to individuals holding a 4 years degree/bachelor’s degree:

  • Secondary degree (High school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent).
  • 7,500 hours business analysis experience (must have been earned in the last 8 years)
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams (must have been earned in the last 8 years)
  • 35 hours of business analysis education (must have been earned in the business analysis practices)

        OR

  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • 4,500 hours business analysis experience (must have been earned in the last 8 years)
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams (must have been earned in the last 8 years)
  • 35 hours of business analysis education (must have been earned in the business analysis practices)

PMI-PBA® Application Process

Once you have validated that you are eligible for receiving the PMI-PBA credentials, you can proceed with filling up the application.

Step 1: Filling the online application

Within the online application an applicant is required to furnish the details of his/her Business Analysis experience, general project experience and training experience in specific worksheets. Once submitted online, the application will be reviewed by PMI within 5 days and the applicant will receive an email validating the conformity of his application and signaling to go ahead with the payment.

Please be advised that a handful of applications are selected for audit each year and in case an applicant is selected for audit, he/she will be notified through an email. In such cases it’s asked to submit copies of applicant’s education, certifications and signatures of the supervisors against the candidate’s experience/projects. A candidate has 90 days to share its audit materials with PMI post which PMI takes 4-5 days auditing the same.

Step 2: Payment of PMI-PBA application

The fees of the PMI-PBA certifications is different for PMI members and also depends upon whether you are taking the Computer-based test (CBT) or Paper-based test (PBT) but it should be noted that the PBT is available only under special circumstances. PMI accepts a number of payment options (credit card, check, money order or wire transfer). Please refer the table below for more details about the exam fee:

Member fee

Computer-based test – US$405

Paper-based test – US$250

Non-member fee

Computer-based test – US$555

Paper-based test – US$400

A candidate can schedule his exam only after the payment of the certification fees.

Step 3: Preparing for the exam

The PMI-PBA exam contains 200 questions out of which 25 are pre-test questions which are not considered in the final score. The exam is administered in English only and the allotted time to complete the test is 4 hours. The questions are centered on the following domains with a percentage of questions (PMI shares a PMI-PBA examination content outline containing the specific details) coming from each of domain:

  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Analysis
  • Traceability and Monitoring
  • Evaluation

A candidate is granted a time-period of one year (which starts post approval of the application) to complete the certification and he/she can appear a maximum of three times. It should be noted that a re-examination fee is levied for the second and third attempts, which is:

Member fee

Computer-based test – US$275

Paper-based test – US$150

Non-member fee

Computer-based test – US$375

Paper-based test – US$300

In case the candidate is not able to clear the certifications even after the three attempts, he/she needs to wait for one year from the date of the last examination before appearing for the exam again.

Step 4: Credential maintenance and renewal

The PMI-PBA credentials are valid for three years and have to be renewed thereafter. To renew the certification a candidate needs to earn and report 60 professional development units (or PDUs) in specialized area of business analysis within the 3 year period and submit the renewal fees. The renewal fees is:

For members: US$60

For non-members: US$150

In case a candidate fails to renew her/his certification, the credentials suspends and it occurs on the third anniversary of the day the exam was passed. The suspension period is one year and in case the candidate does not fulfil his continuous certification requirements within this period, the credentials stands expired. Post expiration, a candidate needs to reapply for the credentials again.

All the above discussed professional certifications are crafted keeping the target business analysis audiences in mind with a balanced blend of analysis and requirement concepts, their application in real world projects/scenarios and training the individual in the analysis specific skill-set.

Apart from the factual information we learned about the major, industry recognized BA certifications, I would like to share a personal advice as well: If you are really keen about getting yourself certified and see the professional merit of one, then go ahead, fill-up the application and schedule a date.

With a deadline in front of your eyes you will be able to sustain the momentum of preparation rather than pondering over and convincing yourself that you are too busy to prepare for the certification. [You are right in guessing that I myself procrastinated the CBAP for full 2 years and gave myself all sort of reasons justifying the same before finally scheduling the date 🙂 ].

If you are already a ‘certified’ Business Analyst or in the process of preparing for one, share your valuable information nuggets with the fellow analysts by putting them in the comments section below.

Note – CBAP® and CCBA® are registered trademarks of ‘International Institute of Business Analysis’. PMI-PBA® is the registered trademark of ‘Project Management Institute’.

 

Suggested Readings

1. Building a Business Analyst Resume that gets noticed

2. Why a Software Developer can be a Business Analyst

3. 9 important Documents created by every Business Analyst

 

  • madams_ba

    Great guide – I struggled to find one of these when I was looking to study ISEB.

  • Business Analyst,

    Thank you for the well-rounded post on business analyst certifications. There aren’t too many sites that focus on this field. You really went in depth with every type of certification, which I appreciated.

    Thanks for the post,
    Dennis

  • Thanks much Dennis!! I am elated you found the article comprehensive enough.

  • To be quite true adams, even I felt the same during my CBAP !!
    Thus, I have included all what one needs to know before getting their hands dirty.
    And yes, Thank You for the appreciation 🙂