Business analyst certifications are a great tool to pivot or advance a career. They help solidify skills and demonstrate an understanding of and dedication to the profession and mastery of practices specific to business analytics. This guide contains more info on where to look for business analytics certifications and what to expect from the certification process.
Professional certifications are offered in various areas, including engineering, management, nursing, IT, teaching, finance, marketing, and human resources. Some certifications are product-specific, such as for particular technological applications or programs. Certifications are most commonly granted by professional societies, organizations, or private agencies.
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While there are no specific business analyst certification programs designed primarily to achieve certification, some preparation options are available to professionals seeking this designation. Professionals can opt to take an online course or a certification training course provided by an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP). EEPs are training institutions and schools endorsed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) to provide programs adhering to the standards addressing business analysis practice.
Some colleges, universities, and other organizations offer courses and programs wherein professionals can earn a certificate while reviewing material likely found on business analyst certification exams. The content of these certificate programs often focuses on preparing for a specific business analytics certification exam, such as the IIIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification or the Project Management Institute’s Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) Certification.
In addition to these certifications mentioned above, other business analysis professional certifications include:
- Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
- IIBA Entry Certificate of Business Analysis (ECBA)
- IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- IIBA Certification in Business Data Analytics (CBDA)
- International Qualification Board for Business Analysis (IQBBA) Certified Foundation Level Business Analyst (CFLBA)
Business Analyst Certification Exam Prep Programs
Many community colleges and the continuing education departments of four-year universities offer business analyst certificate programs designed to prepare students to sit for business analysis certification exams. Professionals can also gain continuing education credits needed for recertification purposes through these studies.
Many of these programs are conducted via online format, as online studies are often more flexible and allow professionals to access classes when it best suits their schedules to maintain their current career obligations.
Programs are typically six to 12 months in duration, requiring the completion of four to six courses. Courses generally address introductory or foundational topics in analytics, including statistics, strategic analysis, data management, analytical methodologies, solutions design and implementation, documentation and validation processes, business planning strategies, and project business analysis.
In some courses, students might be expected to complete a project or collaborative effort that requires them to apply concepts and methods covered in the program. These projects and activities could include the requirement to design and implement strategic business solutions, create a business analysis work plan, develop charts and infographics, or devise outcomes by applying business decision-making processes.
Professionals in this type of certification program can expect to delve into the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®) Guide, which covers knowledge areas addressed on business analysis certification exams. The IIBA publishes this guide; the most recent version is 3.0, released in 2015.
What to Expect From a Business Analytics Certificate Program
For the most part, students of these certificate programs can expect to commit between 5-8 hours per week to in-class participation and studies.
Typical financial aid options do not apply since most of these programs are offered through continuing education departments and are non-degree programs. Typical financial aid options do not apply. Continuing education loans are an option for those seeking to offset the cost of a business analysis certificate program. Some schools might offer discounts (the University of Minnesota, for example, offers a 10 percent discount if a student registers for all courses in the program at the same time). Scholarships for professional development coursework can also apply in some cases. Payment plans arranged with the school of choice could also be an option.
Programs generally prepare students for a specific certification exam; for example, the Forsyth Tech Community College Certificate of Achievement in Business Analysis prepares students to sit for the PMI-PBA exam. The Duke University program presents studies that align with the material covered in the CBAP exam. Professionals should check with the program they are interested in to ensure that the topics covered in the curriculum align with the specific certification they are pursuing.
Students can also find business analysis certification exam prep courses and programs available through Udemy, Learning Tree International, Watermark Learning, and the Adaptive US, to name a few. Some of these organizations work directly with businesses, and courses can be taken online or even conducted onsite. Costs vary; the Udemy online program is presented through ten hours of videos and costs $149.99. The three-day live online IIBA® Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®) Certification Training program through Learning Tree International costs $2,650.
Online Business Analyst Certifications
In addition to certificate prep programs being offered online, some of the certification exams themselves can be taken through online proctoring. The CBAP, PMI-PBA, CBDA, and Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification exams are currently all available to be taken online.
Exams given online match the exams given at test centers. Certain programs and computer capabilities apply to online testing. Students might need to download a particular program, such as Kryterion’s proprietary Sentinel Security program for the CAP exam, or have a computer with a webcam, which is a requirement for taking the online PMI-PBA exam.
Business analysis certifications have been shown to help professionals advance their careers and increase their salaries. In the 2019 IIBA Global Business Analysis Salary Survey, for example, it was reported that the average salary of professionals holding a CBAP certification was on average 13 percent more than those who did not have a certification.
Some specific career titles for professionals holding a business analyst certification are:
- Business analyst
- Data analyst
- System analyst
- Operations specialist
- Management consultant
- Chief information officer
- Business intelligence analyst
As reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analysts, an umbrella under which most of the titles listed above would fall, earn a median annual salary of $87,660 as of May 2020. Business operations specialists earned a yearly annual wage of $71,450.
The BLS reports that the employment of those in business analysis is expected to grow 11 percent through 2029.
Business Analyst Certifications FAQs
While we’ve covered much of the main information regarding business analyst certifications, you likely still have some questions regarding these credentials, certification exams, or certification prep programs or courses. Following are some general questions that might address some of your questions.
- How is obtaining a certificate in business analysis different from earning a business analyst certification?
- A certificate program in business analysis reflects that you have completed a program focusing on business analysis processes and practices and have increased your confidence in performing business analysis duties. At the same time, certification shows that you have mastered the material and are ready to apply the concepts to an advanced position in a professional business setting.
- Is an application process involved in taking business analysis certification exams?
- Yes. During the application process, fees and exam costs would typically be paid.
- What are the requirements for sitting for business analyst certification exams?
- Each business analyst certification has requirements that must be met for a candidate to sit for the actual exam. Requirements for each of these exams are as listed:
- CAP: bachelor’s or master’s degree; three years experience with a master’s degree, five years’ experience with a bachelor’s degree, seven years experience with any degree in an area unrelated to business analytics
- PMI-PBA: those with an associate’s degree must have 60 months of work experience in business analysis; those with a bachelor’s degree must have 36 months of work experience; for either degree, candidates must have 35 contact hours of education or business analysis
- ECBA: minimum 21 hours of professional development in the past four years
- CBAP: minimum of 7,500 hours of work experience in business analysis within the past ten years (a minimum of 900 of these hours completed in four of the six BABOK® Knowledge Areas); minimum 35 hours of professional development within the past four years; two references
- CCBA: minimum 3,750 hours of work experience in business analysis (minimum 900 of these hours completed in two of the six BABOK® Knowledge Areas or a minimum of 500 hours completed in four of the six BABOK® Knowledge Areas); minimum 21 hours of professional development within the past four years; references
- CBDA: 2-3 years experience
- CFLBA: open exam for those with no previous attendance at an accredited course
- What is the exam structure of a business analysis certification exam?
- The number and types of questions differ between certification exams. The structure of each exam follows:
- CAP: 100 four-option, multiple-choice questions
- PMI-PBA: 3 hours; 200 multiple-choice questions, of which 175 are scored, and 25 are pre-test questions
- ECBA: 60 minutes; 50 multiple-choice, knowledge-based questions
- CBAP: 3.5 hours; 120 multiple-choice questions
- CCBA: 3 hours; 130 multiple-choice questions
- CBDA: two hours; 75 multiple-choice scenario-based questions
- CFLBA: 60 minutes; 40 multiple-choice questions
- What are the exam fees for taking a business analysis certification exam?
- Exam fees vary for business analysis certification exams. Additional costs such as application fees are applicable in some cases.
- CAP: $695
- PMI-PBA: $405 for PMI members; $555 for non-members
- ECBA: $110 for IIBA members; $235 for non-members
- CBAP: $325 for IIBA members; $450 for non-members
- CCBA: same as CBAP
- CBDA: $325 for IIBA members; $400 for non-members
- CFLBA: between $150-$250 euro depending on country of residence
- Is recertification necessary to maintain business analysis certification?
- Yes, for most certifications. In most cases, business analysis certification lasts for 1-3 years. During this time, professionals must complete specific continuing professional development hours to qualify for recertification.
- There is no expiration for the ECBA. To recertify a CCBA or CBAP credential, professionals must earn a minimum of 60 Continuing Development Units (CDUs) every three years. The CBDA lasts for one year and professionals must earn 20 CDUs over that one year for recertification purposes.
- The CAP is good for three years. A total of 30 Professional Development Units for the three years is needed for renewal.
- For the PMI-PBA certification, holders of this designation must participate in PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program to renew their certification every three years.
- Fees would generally apply for recertification. For example, recertification fees for the CBAP and CCBA are $85 for members and $120 for non-members, while the CBDA is $30 and $50, respectively.
- Can I take a business analysis certification exam as many times as I’d like if I don’t pass the first time?
- You can usually take a business analysis certification exam more than once; however, limits apply. You can take the exam up to three times within one year for most certifications. If the exam is not passed after the third time, an applicant must wait for their application to expire before retaking the exam.