How to Become a Certified Business Analyst

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Consider advancing your career as a business analyst by becoming a certified business analyst. Here are some of the business analysis certifications available.

[Featured Image]:  Certified Business Analyst analyzing data from organization's business operations.

Business analysts have one job: to turn data into insights. But how can you prove to potential employers or supervisors that you know how to do this and that you're one of the most competent leaders in the industry? By obtaining one of the many business analysis certifications and being a certified business analyst.

As a certified business analyst, you'll have a resume with the credentials businesses seek. Any certification you choose will prove that you completed and passed an exam that shows off your skills. Whether you choose a general certification or a specialization, your qualifications can stand out above other job candidates. Becoming a certified business analyst often means higher pay, more job opportunities, and increased job security. It's a challenging yet guaranteed way to help take your career to the next level.

What is a certified business analyst?

Business analysts analyze data collected from a business's operations and use it to make plans to recommend changes to improve those operations to other departments, business leaders, and stakeholders. Certified business analysts are professionals who work in this role but have additional certifications that can help them advance their knowledge and become specialists in certain areas of business analysis. In both roles, you must be a business expert, particularly regarding your industry and its current trends. You must be a strong written and oral communicator who excels at data analysis.

Many of the certifications available require you to have a specific background, whether it involves obtaining a certain level of education or working a certain number of years or hours as a business analyst. However, some certifications are for entry-level employees. Certification can only help your career, whichever path you decide to take.

Read more: Business Systems Analyst: Skills, Jobs, Salary, Career Outlook

Benefits of being a Certified Business Analyst

In almost any field, adding additional certifications to your resume can offer numerous benefits to help you excel and advance your career.

Business analysis is no different. Some of the benefits you may gain if you become certified include:

• Having a neutral third party confirm your professional competence

• Increasing your marketability and appeal to potential employers

• Adding additional skills to your resume

• Asking for a higher salary compared to a business analyst who isn't certified

• Improving your credibility in your industry

• Increasing your job security

• Preparing yourself for advancement within your organization 



Business analyst certifications

When it comes to business analyst certifications, you have many options to choose from, no matter where you are in your career or what area of business analysis interests you the most.  Organizations like the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) offer them. IIBA's three-part certification is considered the global standard for business analysts. No matter which one you choose, it can help you show off your talents and may help you advance your career or become a leader in your industry. 

IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) 

The first option is the IIBA's Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA), which is suited for people new to business analysis or those who want a career in the field. It can help you understand the basic foundation of the job, including techniques, key concepts, and underlying competencies. To become eligible for the ECBA certification, you'll need to sign up for an account with IIBA, complete 21 professional development hours, and agree with the organization's terms and conditions and code of conduct. Once you complete that, you can take the exam, which does cost a fee, and earn your certification. If you plan to eventually become an IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), this is also the first step of your certificate. 

IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)

IIBA's Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) is an intermediate certification for business analysts, and it's the second step in becoming a full-blown IIBA CBAP. It's for professionals who have completed a few years of work as business analysts. More specifically, you'll need to have completed 3,750 hours of work in business analysis in the last seven years. Within those 3,750 hours, 500 to 900 must fall under specific categories within the BABOK Guide Knowledge Areas. You'll also need to complete 21 hours of Professional Development or have done so within the last four years. Once you do that, you'll need to provide professional references and agree to IIBA's code of conduct and terms and conditions. Finally, you have to pay a fee and pass the exam. 

IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

The CBAP certification is the third and final step of the process and is a coveted business analysis certification. This is where you take your years of experience and the vast knowledge you gained and prove you have what it takes to become a leader in your field. To qualify, you'll need to have worked as a business analyst for at least 7,500 hours over the last decade. Again, a certain number of those hours must fall within the BABOK® Guide Knowledge Areas. You'll need to complete 35 hours of Professional Development or have done so in the last four years. You'll also need to provide references again. And as with the other certifications, you'll need to agree to IIBA's terms and conditions and code of ethics before finally taking the exam, which does cost a fee. 

Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

Another option on your path to becoming a certified business analyst is becoming a Certified Analytics Professional (CAP). This neutral third-party certification can help showcase your skills and knowledge in seven specific areas of business analysis. To qualify, you'll need to have one of these three combinations:

  • Three years of experience as a business analyst and a master's degree in a related area

  • Five years of experience as a business analyst and a bachelor's degree in a related area

  • Or seven years of experience as a business analyst and any bachelor's or master's degree in any subject area

You'll have to promise to adhere to an ethics guide and provide proof of your skills via an employer reference. You'll then pay a fee, take the exam, and maintain your certification throughout your career by continuing your education.  

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)

Business analysis and project management go hand-in-hand, and that's why the PMI offers a Professional in Business Analysis certification or the PMI-PBA. The organization claims that earning this certification will help any organization end inaccurate requirements gathering and help drive overall better business outcomes. To qualify for the certificate, you'll need to fit into one of two categories:

  • Have a high school diploma or associate degree, at least 60 months of business analysis experience, and 35 contact hours of education in business analysis.

  • Have a bachelor's degree with 36 months of business analysis experience and 35 contact hours of education in business analysis.

 If you qualify, you can pay an exam fee and take a proctored (via webcam) exam online. 

Specialist certifications

In addition to becoming a certified business analyst, you can opt for a specialist certification. These certifications recognize and strengthen your skills in specific areas of expertise. The IIBA offers many, but you'll find other organizations offer them as well. Take a look at some popular options.  

Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC)

First up is IIAB's Agile Analysis Certification or IIBA-AAC. It's ideal for business analysts who work in Agile environments, those who want to increase their Agile skills and expertise, and those who want to keep track of current industry trends. IIBA even reports that many people with this certificate who work in Agile business environments tend to earn more money.

Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA-CBDA)

IIBA's Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA-CBDA) aims to help ensure you have the techniques, competencies, and practices you need to be a great business analyst who fully understands how to explore and investigate data. The exam provides you with potential problems, and you'll have to identify and obtain the data, analyze it, and create a solution. Holding this certificate demonstrates your preparedness for anything that comes your way on the job.

Cybersecurity Analysis Certification (IIBA-CCA)

If cybersecurity interests you, consider IIBA's Cybersecurity Analysis Certification or IIBA-CCA. You'll take courses led by some of the industry's leading cybersecurity experts and learn how the basics of cybersecurity and business analysis complement each other so that you can come up with cybersecurity solutions for your organization.

Product Ownership Analysis Certification (IIBA-CPOA)

Anyone interested in product ownership analysis could consider IIBA's Product Ownership Analysis Certification (IIBA-CPOA). It's aimed at product owners, proxy product owners, and team members looking for Agile techniques, tools, values, and frameworks to set themselves up for success. You'll learn how to integrate product ownership with business analytics, understand the role of the product manager, and learn to apply Agile techniques to all of it.

Certified Business Analysis Specialist (CBAS) - Capital Markets

Lastly is the Certified Business Analysis Specialist - Capital Markets (CBAS) certification. It's for business analysts with at least five years of experience in investment banking, asset management, wealth management, custody, or asset servicing. The exam evaluates your knowledge of traditional and Agile software development lifecycle methodologies,  business analysis processes and visual modeling, basic information technology concepts, and business analysis tools.

Getting started

Are you looking to become a business analyst, or are you already a business analyst who wants to advance your career? Start at Coursera. On our site, you'll find courses, certifications, and degrees offered by some of the top universities in the world. For example, you can earn a Business Analytics Specialization from The Wharton School or take a Business Statistics and Analysis Specialization course offered by Rice University. What are you waiting for? Visit Coursera today to get started with this exciting career choice. 



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