What Is the IIBA-AAC Certification?

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The IIBA-AAC certification demonstrates your knowledge and skill in using Agile in the workplace. Is the IIBA-AAC worth it? Read on to learn more about the certification for business professionals and how to prepare for it.

[Featured Image] A woman uses her laptop at home to take the exam to earn the IIBA-AAC certification.

The IIBA-AAC certification is a credential for business analysts offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). AAC stands for Agile Analysis Certification, and earning this certification shows your knowledge and skill working within an Agile environment. This competency-based certification is standalone, meaning you do not stack it with other IIBA certifications.

Although created as an approach for software development, the Agile framework works well for various projects in just about any industry. According to The 17th State of Agile Report, 32 percent of business leaders are transforming operations by adopting the Agile mindset throughout the company [1]. Some of the fastest growth is evident in engineering, research, and development teams, which reported a 16 percent increase in Agile adoption from 2022 to 2023 [1].

Who should get the IIBA-AAC certification?

IIBA created the AAC certification for business analysis professionals who use the Agile mindset. However, you may find this certification useful for expanding your skill set or keeping up with industry trends if you work in the following fields:

  • Consulting services

  • Marketing

  • Nonprofit organization

  • Product development

  • Project management

  • Research and development

Generally, the Agile approach is beneficial when working with collaborative teams that rely on regular feedback to produce timely deliverables. It helps create an environment prioritizing people over processes, learning from experience, and adapting plans to meet the client's needs. 

How to get the IIBA-AAC certification

To get the IIBA-AAC certification, you must pass the AAC exam. The exam is available to IIBA members and non-members. Although IIBA recommends that candidates have two to three years of experience working in an Agile environment, it does not require work experience or other prerequisites. If you're ready to pursue the credential, the next question is, "How do I prepare for the IIBA-AAC?"

Study the tested competencies.

The questions on the AAC exam align with the competencies detailed in the second edition of the Agile Extension to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge book (also called the BABOK® Guide). To answer the questions correctly, you need to understand the basics of the Agile mindset, such as what is doable, how to avoid waste, and what it means to see the whole when working on a project.

You should also be able to explain the different tasks that occur during the horizons and identify them as being used in scenarios. For example, during the strategy horizon, you identify capabilities. During the initiative horizon, you identify, estimate, and prioritize features. Tasks to complete during the delivery horizon include developing the product increment backlog and elaborating stories.

Take practice tests.

After reading the suggested material, you can apply the knowledge through practice tests. The IIBA has an official practice test posted on its website. This test mimics the questions you'll see on the actual test. You can find additional practice tests online through training organizations, and you may find them helpful in your preparation. Research these organizations carefully and check reviews before purchasing practice tests from companies unaffiliated with IIBA.

When taking practice tests, consider timing yourself to simulate the testing environment. You also can use them to monitor your progress. The first test acts as a baseline, which you can use to identify your areas of strength and concern. Each time you take a new practice test, compare the results with the previous tests to monitor how your knowledge and skills improve.

Schedule the exam.

To schedule the exam, log in to the IIBA website and locate the AAC exam. You can choose your preferred language, country, and time zone from there. When the list of available testing centers appears, select the testing center (PSI Exam Center or online), date, and time. After paying the exam fee ($250 for IIBA members and $400 for non-members), you should receive a confirmation [2].

Although you must schedule your exam at least 48 hours in advance, you have up to one year to take it. For this reason, IIBA recommends scheduling the exam before you begin studying and practicing.

What's on the IIBA-AAC exam?

The IIBA-AAC exam has 85 multiple-choice questions featuring scenarios similar to what you encounter in the workplace [3]. These scenarios ask you to demonstrate your knowledge of how the Agile mindset applies in different situations and to identify the horizon activities described. You have two hours to complete the exam, and each question falls under one of four categories:

  • Agile mindset: 30 percent (25 to 26 questions)

  • Strategy horizon: 10 percent (eight to nine questions)

  • Initiative horizon: 25 percent (21 to 22 questions)

  • Delivery horizon: 35 percent (20 to 30 questions)

Training for the IIBA-AAC exam

You can use self-paced and instructor-led resources to prepare for the IIBA-AAC certification exam, including the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge guide published by the IIBA. Reading the BABOK® is an excellent starting point if you prefer studying independently. You can also browse IIBA's Knowledge Hub, which features articles, scenarios, and techniques to help build your knowledge and provide insight into how other professionals use Agile in different contexts.

IIBA maintains a list of endorsed training providers on its website. These providers offer a combination of on-demand courses and live training sessions. You'll also find on the website a self-assessment that can help you assess your understanding of Agile and identify the skills and competencies you need to practice before the exam. IIBA members also have access to study groups through local chapters.

What jobs can you get with the IIBA-AAC certification?

Having the IIBA-AAC certification shows employers your understanding of Agile, and you can apply that understanding in jobs that involve big projects that may require the ability to adapt quickly and respond to change. As more businesses embrace Agile, you may find opportunities in business agility, product management, and project management. Below is a list of jobs to consider after earning the IIBA-AAC certification.

Business analyst

Business analysts help business owners and executives examine business operations to identify areas of improvement and opportunity. In this role, you may observe and analyze how the organization functions to determine how it can improve efficiency and profitability. The company may ask you to present your findings and recommendations to stakeholders. You may incorporate the Agile mindset when working with teams.

Median salary: $90,489 [4]

Business consultant

As a business consultant, you work with leaders to analyze a company's performance, prepare budgets, and develop strategies to improve operations. You may create budgets or train staff in new procedures through meetings and workshops. Some corporate leaders may ask you to manage projects. You can incorporate the Agile mindset when managing teams, conducting research, and analyzing data.

Median salary: $82,050 [5]

Data analyst

Data analysts collect and analyze data for an organization. Your role is gathering data, processing it to identify trends and patterns, and sharing your findings with business leaders. Sometimes, this requires setting up the systems to collect data and applying statistical analysis to interpret it. You'll also need to explain the data to leaders who use the information to make business decisions. As a data scientist, you may apply Agile principles to improve efficiency.

Median salary: $83,489 [6]

Product manager

Product managers are in charge of a product's lifecycle, from birth to production. In this role, you supervise a team of individuals as they brainstorm ideas, develop models, and begin production. This requires hiring staff, setting goals, and monitoring progress toward reaching them. You can implement the Agile mindset throughout the product development as you guide the teams through iterations.

Median salary: $123,117 [7]

Project manager

Project managers supervise various projects from beginning to end. As a project manager, your job includes identifying the project's scope and setting goals, managing resources, and helping team members complete their tasks on time. However, your primary task is to ensure the project stays on track and the team can meet the deliverables promised to the client. You may use the Agile mindset to encourage collaboration and communication.

Median salary: $87,294 [8]

Getting started with Coursera

Earning the IIBA-AAC demonstrates your understanding and skill using the Agile mindset. Is the IIBA-AAC worth it? As more companies embrace the approach, they may look for employees who are comfortable working in an Agile environment. Earning this certification is one way to demonstrate that.

To learn more about the Agile mindset and related methodologies, you can take a course like Agile Project Management by Google. This beginner-level course on Coursera covers topics like the Agile approach, Scrum events, and Agile team coaching. The final module guides you through applying Agile in the workplace and how it's evolved.

Article sources


State of Agile. "The 17th State of Agile Report, https://info.digital.ai/rs/981-LQX-968/images/RE-SA-17th-Annual-State-Of-Agile-Report.pdf?version=0." Accessed May 28, 2024.

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