Certifications for business analysts are still emerging, but there’s already a handful of organizations offering exams to certify your business analytics skills. Business analysts help organizations make the most of the data they collect by finding trends, patterns and errors that might otherwise go unnoticed. Successful business analysts have the skills to work with data, the acumen to understand the business side of the organization and the ability to communicate that information to people outside of IT.
Business analytics is a lucrative role in IT, with an average entry-level salary of $67,000 per year. Throughout their careers, business analysts report average salaries ranging from $48,000 to $100,000 per year, according to PayScale. If you want to advance your business analyst career, or change career paths, here are seven globally-recognized certifications that will help prove your mettle.
The ECBA is the first level of certification with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), it’s designed for less experienced and entry-level business analysts. You will need to complete at least 21 hours of professional training credits, within the past four years, before you will be eligible for the exam. You don’t have to renew your ECBA certification, but it’s assumed you’ll move on to the second or third levels of certification.
Level 2 of the IIBA certification, the CCBA certification requires a minimum 3,750 hours of business analytics work aligned with the IIBA’s Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABOK) guide in the past 7 years, 900 hours in two of six BABOK knowledge areas or 500 hours in four of six BABOK knowledge areas. The certification also requires a minimum of 21 hours professional development training in the past four years and two professional references.
The CCBA exam consists of 130 multiple-choice questions that are scenario-based and require some analysis. It covers fundamentals, underlying competencies, key concepts, techniques and all six knowledge areas covered in the BABOK.
The CBAP is the third level of certification with IIBA and it’s designed for “individuals with extensive business analysis experience.” To qualify for this certification, you’ll need a minimum of 7,500 hours of business analyst work experience in the past 10 years, 900 hours of work experience hours within four of the six BABOK knowledge areas, at least 35 hours of professional development in the past four years and professional references.
The CBAP exam is 3.5 hours long and includes 120 multiple-choice questions that are based off case studies. After you pass, you’ll need to report at least 60 hours of continuing development units every three years.
Agile was ranked first in the top three areas that business analysts’ professionals perform the most work, according to the 2017 IIA Annual Business Analysis Salary Survey. The AAC exam was designed to address this BA skillset and to certify BA professionals working in agile environments, which require fast adaption and rapid change. The exam was developed using the Agile Extension to the BABOK guide and was released in May 2018. It is a standalone certification and is separate from the other IIBA business analyst certifications, which stack on top of one another.
The exam is offered through remote online proctoring — it consists of 85 multiple-choice, scenario-based questions and it must be completed in 2 hours. Four main topics are covered on the exam, including agile mindset (30%), strategy horizon (10%), initiative horizon (25%) and delivery horizon (35%). Your certification will last for three years, at which point you’ll need to renew the certification. There aren’t any eligibility requirements to take the exam, but the IIBA recommends at least two to five years of agile-related experience.
The IQBBA offers the CFLBA as an entry-level certification, which will qualify you to earn higher levels of certification. It’s a globally recognized certification with accredited exam and training centers all across the world. It’s designed for “people involved in analyzing business processes within an organization, modeling businesses and process improvement.” The foundation level covers enterprise analysis, business analysis process planning, requirements elicitation, requirements analysis, solution validation, tools and techniques, innovation and design.
Once you complete the entry-level exam, you can continue on to the Certified Advanced Level Business Analyst (CALBA) and Certified Expert Level Business Analyst (CELBA) certifications. Accredited training and exam centers in the United States are currently limited, with centers in Chicago, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas. However, there are options to take training courses and exams online.
The CPRE certification is designed for those working in requirements engineering (RE), and it’s offered at three levels. The Foundation Level is first, where you’ll be certified in the basics of RE. The Advanced Level is next, where you can choose between three paths, including Requirements Elicitation and Consolidation, Requirements Modeling and Requirements Management — but you’ll need to wait 12 months after completing the first exam to take the advanced level exam. The Expert Level certifies you at the “highest level of expert knowledge,” which includes both your hands-on experience as well as your knowledge and skills gained through previous certifications.
Your certification will not expire, and you will not need to renew it. The IREB states that the CPRE is “based on the fundamental methods and approaches of Requirements Engineering, and these alter only slowly,” so at this time, they don’t see a need for renewal.
The PMI-PBA certification is designed for business analysts who work with projects or programs, or project and program managers who work with analytics. It’s offered through the Project Management Institute, which specializes in widely-recognized project management certifications. The certification focuses on business analysis training through hands-on projects and testing on business analysis principles, tools and fundamentals.
If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need at least three years’ experience, or 4,500 hours, in business analysis consecutively within the past eight years to earn this certification. Without a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need five years or 7,500 hours experience.
You’ll be required to earn 60 professional development units within three years after completing the certification to maintain your renewal status. If you let your renewal lapse, your credentials will be suspended for one year until you fulfill the requirements — after that, it will be terminated and you’ll need to reapply.
Updated exam launched in June 2018 to better align with the terminology used in the PMI Guide to Business Analysis.
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