Certification

Introduction

A way for Business Analysts to demonstrate proficiency in different aspects of the profession is to pursue one of the BA-related certifications that are available from different organizations.  However, different certifications may be more appropriate to you depending on several factors, including:

  • What country do you currently live and work in or want to work in?
  • How much experience do you have as a business analyst?
  • What skills does your current or desired employer value?
  • What are your career goals?

This page will list the certifications I am aware of that are (or might be) related to the business analysis profession.  The list is broken into “core” and “non-core” certifications.  The section after will include some considerations to think about when selecting a certification to pursue.  Finally, there area few links to a few additional resources at the bottom.

 

What Certifications Exist?

BA Core Certifications

These are certifications that directly relate to the Business Analysis profession and its core skills.

  • BCS Certifications
    • Certificate in Business Analysis – Foundation Level
    • Certificate in IT Enabled Business Change – Foundation Level
    • Certificate in Benefits Management and Business Acceptance – Practitioner Level
    • Certificate in Business Analysis Practice – Practitioner Level
    • Certificate in Data Management Essentials – Practitioner Level
    • Certificate in Modeling Business Processes – Practitioner Level
    • Certificate in Requirements Engineering – Practitioner Level

         (CAVEAT:  I have never heard of this group or certification, but am including for now.  Feedback would be appreciated)

 

Non-Core Certifications

These are certifications that not necessarily related to the core BA skills.  Note that there may be some disagreement on whether these are “core” or not depending on how the Business Analyst role is defined by your employer.

Agile

Business Architecture

Business Intelligence

Change Management

Innovation / Problem Solving

Product Management

Process Improvement

Software Testing / Quality

Technology

Usability / User Experience

Value Management

  • Management of Value – (UK initiative related to the PRINCE2 Project Management process)
    • Foundation Certification
    • Practitioner Certification

 

Considerations

When considering to pursue a certification, the following are some factors to consider:

Where do you work or want to work?

Depending on where you are currently working, or want to work in the future, different certifications may be more valuable to you.

  • In the United Kingdom, the lower BCS certifications are very common and I’m told many employers are going to want at least the Foundation level certification in business analysis before they will hire you.
  • But if you are considering Germany, then the CPRE certifications are the most common and the CPRE-FL is frequently required.
  • In the United States and Canada no certification has emerged as a significant driver of hiring, although the CBAP is possibly emerging in that role for senior business analysts.
  • In India, I am told both the BCS and CPRE certifications have some presence, and that certification has potentially more value than it would be in North America.

What is your experience level as a business analyst?

Different certifications are driven by different factors.  Among the “core” BA certifications, the main factors are experience, knowledge, and proficiency.  The difference between a knowledge and proficiency focus is that in a knowledge driven certification you have to demonstrate knowledge such as “what are the parts / elements of a BPMN diagram” while a proficiency-driven certification will ask you to actually create a BPMN diagram based on information provided.

Experience-driven Certifications

An experience-driven certification is one where the critical factor of the certification is experience of the sort defined by the certification body.  This is usually experience with a specific skill or set of skills or in a particular role.  You may have to pass a knowledge or skill-based exam in addition to showing your experience, but that is secondary to the experience requirement.  These certifications are thus only appropriate to BA’s who can demonstrate a sufficient level of experience per the certification body’s requirements.  Examples of experience-based certifications include:

  • CBAP
  • CCBA
  • CBPP
  • ITIL Master
  • Six Sigma Green and Black Belts

Knowledge-driven Certifications

An knowledge-driven certification is one where the critical factor of the certification is the demonstration of knowledge at the time the certification is granted.  This is usually done in the form of passing a test of some sort.  These certifications do not have any experience criteria, and usually do not involve the demonstration of skills of some sort.  These certifications are the ones most appropriate for someone who wants to be a business analyst, or who is a junior analyst looking to develop and demonstrate their knowledge.  Examples of knowledge-based certifications include:

  • The early CPRE levels
  • The OMG Fundamental levels (I’m not sure on the higher levels)
  • The BCS Foundation level certifications
  • CHAMPS2 Foundation (not sure about Practitioner)
  • ITIL Foundation through Managing Across the Lifecycle
  • MoV Foundation (not sure about Practitioner)

Proficiency-driven Certifications

A proficiency-driven certification is one where the critical factor is one or more demonstrations of proficiency in the application of knowledge or a skill.  As stated above, an example would be the actual creation of a UML model, BPMN diagram, business analysis plan, or other artifact that can be evaluated to prove the candidates proficiency.  These certifications are most appropriate for mid-level and experience business analysts.  Examples of proficiency-driven certifications include:

  • The BCS Practitioner certifications
  • The BCS Diploma
  • The later CPRE levels

What skills does your current or desired employer value?

Another important consideration is what skills are valued by your current or desired employer, and whether a certification with that focus is available.  For example, if your employer is beginning a transition to using Agile methods more then a SCRUM certification could be valuable.  Is your work more process focused?  Then maybe the CBPP certification would be more valuable.  Or perhaps the Six Sigma or Lean options would suit your needs better?  Be aware of that even getting certified in an area your employer values may not benefit you if the employer does not recognize or value the certification, or if their emphasis is on experience.  This is especially true if the certification is knowledge based and you don’t have as much experience as the employer wants.  The MoV certification might be a good example of this as it seems to be largely valued in the UK, and even there it seems to be considered a sub-set of project management.

What are your career goals?

Make sure you consider your career goals in the certifications your pursue.  Are you a Senior BA looking for options to move into management?  Then maybe certification in Change Management or TRIZ may be a good option.  Or maybe you are more IT-focused, in which case the ITIL path may be a better option.  Or if you are senior BA who does not want to move into management, but prefers a more advisory role to management.  Then you might consider TOGAF, Six Sigma, or Lean certifications.

In the end, given the cost and time commitment of certifications, make sure you carefully consider what your goals are for the certification and be realistic about what it may accomplish for you.  From nearly everyone I have talked to, experience trumps certification nearly every time.  But certification can be that extra bonus when candidates have similar levels of experience.  Just don’t count on it putting a rocket under your career path.

 

Tips

  • While the CBAP and CCBA certifications require specific amounts of experience to get the certification, they don’t actually require any further experience as a business analyst to keep the certification.  You can maintain your certification through professional education, IIBA Chapter participation, and similar continuing education efforts.  This means if you hope to move into management, you could in theory keep your certification long after you are no longer actually working as a business analyst.

Resources

 



© 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by David Olson

10 thoughts on “Certification

  1. Sudhindra Arsikere

    Hello Team,

    Really a great research in updating the useful certifications. But this requires the latest PMI-BA updation and UX courses as well I feel. But really a great article.

    Regards
    Sudhi.

    Reply
    1. Dave Post author

      Thank you for the feedback Sudhi. I hope to update the page sometime soon with the PMI-BA, the HFI UX, IQBBA, and REQB. If anyone knows of others to add, please let me know and I’ll update the page.

      Reply
  2. Nishant Shastry

    I had been scouring the internet; fruitlessly; for certification exams related to the Business Analysis profession before I stumbled upon this treasure trove of information. I really appreciate the effort that has gone into creating this uber informative page 🙂

    It would be great if you could help me out with a problem I had facing. Are you aware of an industry specific certifications (on the lines of eTOM for the telecom sector) for the retail sector?

    Reply
    1. Dave Post author

      I’m glad you found the information useful. And thank you for the feedback. 🙂

      As to your question, I have not come across any industry-specific BA-certifications so far, and I think the field is still too “new” for that to have occurred (but could be wrong). The closest I can think of are general industry certifications that have nothing to do with business analysis that might be worth looking into (like CFA and the many other different certifications in the financial services industry).

      Reply
  3. aakansha

    hi,

    regarding the exam,cflba-certified foundation level business analyst.Is this exam is available to be given in India?
    When i went to the site of IQBBA,I see link for Germany and France only.Is there any link through which we can enroll for this exam?

    Reply
    1. Dave Post author

      Sorry, I can’t help you on the IQBBA exam or the organization behind it. I only recently came across their website, and as I stated above I have never even heard of the exam or the group offering it until recently. And so far, I know of no one who has actually taken their exam or who would recommend the organization behind it.

      If you are looking for a foundation-level exam offered in India, I would strongly recommend either the CPRE-FL exam from the IREB; or the BCS Foundation-level exam. Both are available in India, well established certifications, and from reputable organizations. Information and links for both are on this page as well.

      Reply
  4. Jignesh

    Excellent read & analysis. Very useful info for starters as also for experienced professional…

    Keep up the good work..

    Regards
    JM

    Reply
  5. Malathi

    Hi,

    If possible can you please, guide us more on Certified Usability Analyst (CUA)? Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Malathi R

    Reply

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