Become a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A certification can help you stand out in the field. Find out if the CBAP is right for you.

[Featured image] Business Analyst holds file while sitting in front of a laptop computer and monitor

The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation is a professional certification offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), a non-profit professional association focused on supporting the field of business analysis. Professionals who have worked in the field for some time might consider obtaining a certification in business analysis to showcase their professional qualifications and experience. 

Certification can be a stepping stone to a new position. In this article, you’ll learn what the CBAP is exactly, what its benefits are, how it stacks up to alternatives, and the steps you need to take to obtain it. 

CBAP certification explained

CBAP recipients are experienced professionals who have worked in the field for at least five years, met specific experience requirements, and passed the 120-question CBAP exam.

CBAP benefits 

Becoming a CBAP can have a positive impact on a professional’s overall job prospects, salary expectations, and career standing. Some of the most common benefits include: 

  • Stand out to potential employers. In a crowded and competitive applicant pool, having the  CBAP designation could help you stand out from other job applicants and land the position. In fact, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a certification or license faced lower unemployment rates than those without either [1]. 

  • Demonstrate your skill set, knowledge, and experience. In order to qualify for the CBAP, you must have at least five years (7,200 hours) of related work experience and pass an exam, which,  consists of 120 questions covering everything from business analysis planning and monitoring to solution evaluation. 

  • Potentially increase your pay. According to research conducted by the IIBA for its Annual Business Analysis Survey, BA professionals with the certification earn 13% more on average than uncertified professionals [2].

How to become a CBAP

The path to becoming an IIBA CBAP is defined by a dedication to the study and practice of business analysis. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started: 

1. Complete the exam requirements.

To qualify for the Certified Business Analysis Professional exam, you’ll need to complete some key requirements first. According to the IIBA, applicants must [2]: 

  • Complete at least 7,500 hours of BA work experience within the last 10 years.

  • Of those 7,500 hours, at least 3,600 hours of them must fall within four of the six Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK) areas. The applicant must complete at least 900 hours for each of the four areas their work falls within. 

  • Over the last four years, the applicant must have completed at least 35 hours of professional development. 

Who can become a CBAP? 

While the CBAP is primarily geared toward senior business analysts, it’s also suitable for other professionals who use BA in their daily work, including project managers, product managers, quality assurance professionals, consultants, and testers. 

Placeholder

2. Register for the exam.

Once you've gained the required experience to qualify for the exam, you can then register for it. In order to register, you’ll need to submit two professional references who can vouch for your qualifications, agree to the IIBA’s Code of Conduct and Terms and Conditions, and also pay the $145 application fee. 

3. Study for the test. 

Before the day of the test, make sure to schedule time for exam prep. The CBAP test includes 120 exam questions covering a variety of different subjects. According to the IIBA, here’s what you can expect from the exam: 

  • Business analysis and Planning - 14% 

  • Elicitation and Collaboration - 12%

  • Requirements life cycle management - 15%

  • Strategy analysis - 15%

  • Requirements analysis and design definition - 30%

  • Solution evaluation - 14%

Rather than just relying on your experience to ace the exam, use the time before it to study and prepare yourself with practice exams. While you likely address many of these subjects in your day-to-day work, testing environments differ considerably from the workplace. 

4. Take (and pass) the CPAB exam. 

You can take the CPAB exam in two ways: in person at a PSI test center or online through remote proctoring. When registering, pick the environment that works best for you to ensure that you do your best on the test. Whatever approach you choose, you will have 3.5 hours to complete the 120 exam questions. 

5. Show off your credentials. 

Once you’ve passed the CBAP exam, you will officially be a CPAB. Congratulations! You can show off your credential on your resume, LinkedIn, and other professional materials. This is a big accomplishment and one that shows the hard work you have put into your career and advancing your skills to stay relevant and competitive in the workplace. 

Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume: Guide + Examples

Alternative certifications: CBAP vs. PMI-PBA

The CBAP isn’t the only certification for professionals looking to show off their business analyst abilities. The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) certification is also popular among industry professionals. 

The certification you choose will likely depend on your own preferences. While PMI has been around longer than IIBA, the CBAP has been around longer than the PBA, meaning that some employers might be more familiar with one organization or certification over the other. Nonetheless, both certifications are highly rated. In 2020, for example, Notable tech publication CIO named the CBAP and PBA as two of the top ten business analyst certifications [3]. 

At a glance, here are some key differences between both of the certifications to help you decide which better suits your goals: 

CBAPPBA
RequirementsComplete at least 7,500 hours of BA work experience within the last ten years; 3,600 hours are dedicated to a combined BABOK areas; 35 hours of PD in the last four years.With a secondary degree, complete 7,500 hours working as a business analysis practitioner,(Experience must have been earned in the last 8 years) with at least 2,000 dedicated to working on project teams. With a Bachelor’s degree or higher, complete 4,500 hours working as a business analysis practitioner, with at least 2,000 hours working on project teams. 35 hours training in business analysis required for both secondary degree and Bachelor’s Degree or higher.
Exam120 multiple choice questions over 3.5 hours.200 multiple choice questions in over 4 hours.
Exam feeMember: $350 Non-member: $505Member: $405 Non-member: $555

Keep learning

Business analysis is a constantly evolving field. Keep your existing skills fresh or learn new ones by taking an online, flexible course through Coursera. 

The University of Pennsylvania’s Business Analytics Specialization provides an introduction to big data analytics for all business professionals, including those with no prior analytics experience.

Rice’s Business Statistics and Analysis Specialization, meanwhile, teaches course takers how to master essential spreadsheet functions, build descriptive business data measures, and develop their aptitude for data modeling.

Placeholder

specialization

Business Analytics

Make Data-Driven Business Decisions. Achieve fluency in business data strategies in four discipline-specific courses.

4.6

(15,470 ratings)

151,919 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Customer Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Decision Tree, Predictive Analytics, Regression Analysis, Marketing Performance Measurement And Management, Simulation, Mathematical Optimization, Solver, Talent Management, Performance Management, Collaboration, Accounting, Earnings Management, Finance, Strategic Management, Data Analysis

Article sources

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Learn without limits