As the business analysis market continues to heat up, many Business Analysts are vying for ways to stand out amongst the crowd and because of this, BA certifications have become a hot commodity.
Ambitious professionals are using certifications to give them an edge over their competition in the job market, while current Business Analysts are gaining certifications to show their business analysis prowess and increase their opportunities for promotion or to be included in special projects.
Regardless of where you are in your career, a certification may just be the boost you need to take you to the next level.
But what certification is right for you?
Here’s a breakdown of the top business analysis-related institutions and organizations, along with their most popular and helpful certification options.
International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)
After being founded in 2003, the non-profit professional association known as the IIBA has steadily grown and expanded to be one of the premier business analysis organizations in the world. In fact, shortly after its inception, their Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), which is now on version 3, was designated by many organizations as the industry standards document for everything business analysis.
This notoriety has enabled the IIBA to make available some highly sought-after certifications.
Level 1 – Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
One of the newer additions to the IIBA’s certification portfolio is the ECBA. This certificate is curated for aspiring or brand new business analysts that want to prove their understanding of the foundational concepts of business analysis as they begin their careers.
Level 2 – Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)
One of the long-standing certifications offered by the IIBA is the CCBA. This certification is ideal for business analysis professionals who have 2-3 years of business analysis experience and want to be recognized for their work in the field and the knowledge they have acquired.
Level 3 – Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
The CBAP is currently the highest certification offered through the IIBA and is one of the – if not THE – most coveted certifications available for Business Analysts. This certification is targeted towards BA professionals with 5 or more years of business analysis experience. Landing this certification demonstrates that you have what it takes to be part of the most impactful projects in any organization and will provide you with a clear advantage in promotional opportunities and salary negotiations.
Agile Analysis Certification (AAC)
As quite a few organizations are making the move to incorporate agile methodologies for their projects, the IIBA has launched the Agile Analysis Certification. Since its introduction in 2018, the AAC has continued to grow in popularity as more organizations recognize and begin adopting the practices taught within their agile standards.
As the BABOK does not cover the agile standards specifically, the IIBA has written and published the Agile Extension (v2).
Project Management Institute (PMI)
Even though the PMI has been around since 1969, their primary focus narrowed in on project management standards and certifications. Only recently (2017) have they released their own set of business analysis standards (PMI’s Guide to Business Analysis) and expanded to also offer two business analysis-specific certifications.
While many new organizations may have a tough time catching up to what the IIBA has accomplished, leveraging organizational adoption of their project management standards, the PMI is poised to potentially challenge the IIBA’s longstanding reputation as ‘the best’ in the coming years.
PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)
Currently, the most popular business analysis certification the PMI offers is the PMI-PBA. This certification is positioned to compete with the IIBA’s CBAP for Business Analyst professionals with 5 or more years of experience. With a heavy focus on the core responsibilities of a business analyst such as requirements elicitation, documentation, and management, this certification will likely continue to grow in popularity as the PMI continues its expansion into the business analysis profession.
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
With agile’s continued adoption by organizations, the fastest growing PMI certification is the PMI-ACP. This is targeted towards the Business Analyst with 3 or more years of agile business analysis experience who wants to prove they have the skills and talents necessary to be successful in an agile environment.
As the PMI’s Guide to Business Analysis does not cover the agile methodologies specifically, there is an add-on standards document called the Agile Practice Guide.
British Computer Society (BCS)
Popular in Europe, the BCS (formerly known as ISEP) has continued to grow and expand its certification offerings outside of its traditional IT background to also include certifications on business analysis.
Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis
Without any entry requirements, the Foundation Certification in Business Analysis was created for those professionals who aspire to become Business Analysts. If you’re looking to land your first Business Analyst position in or around Europe, you can study the Business Analysis (third edition) book to assist you in landing this entry-level certificate.
Diploma of Business Analysis
The most sought-after BCS certification, or diploma as they call it, is the Diploma in Business Analysis. This certification is earned only after you have passed four exam modules (one being the Foundation module mentioned above) and completed an oral examination at a testing center in London or Edinburgh.
While there are hundreds of different business analysis certifications that can be earned, those from the IIBA, PMI, and BCS are held in high regard and will deliver the highest ROI for those ambitious enough to pursue them.
– Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide