Become a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A certification can help you stand out in the crowded field of business analysis. 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 to potential employers. 

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 your next job. In fact, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a certification or license faced significantly lower unemployment rates than those without either in 2023 (1.8% vs. 4.2%) [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: step-by-step guide

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


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 taking the CBAP 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. 

Read more: 10 Test-Taking Tips to Set You Up for Success

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'll have 3.5 hours to complete the 120 exam questions. 

5. Show off your credentials. 

Once you’ve passed the CBAP exam, you'll 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've 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 2023, 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: 

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 60 months working as a business analysis practitioner and at least 35 contact hours training in business analysis practices. With a Bachelor’s degree or higher, complete 35 months working as a business analysis practitioner and at least 35 contact hours training in business analysis. For both types of test takers, their work experience must have occurred over the last 8 years.
Exam120 multiple choice questions over 3.5 hours.200 multiple choice questions in over 4 hours (25 are unscored, pre-test questions).
Exam feeMember: $350 Non-member: $505Member: $405 Non-member: $555

Build your business analysis abilities

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.

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