Frequently Asked Questions
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Business Analysis Career Advice
It’s important to start by learning the foundational concepts of business analysis. Business analysis is such a wide field and covers many industries, so to help prepare you fully for the highest number of roles, you want to lay a foundation of knowledge with a little bit of information spread across a lot of different topics. This will help you form a well-rounded information base, and help you learn what your interests are.
It’s possible to find this information on blogs and webinars, but that can be a hit-or-miss approach. That’s why I’ve created the Business Analysis Fundamentals course. You’ll learn about essential BA concepts, methodologies, elicitation techniques, and how to work with stakeholders. Learn the integral components of business analysis to thrive in your career!
Want more details? Check out Jeremy’s video response, What’s The First Step I Should Take to Become a Business Analyst?
This answer can be broken down into three parts:
- Do you need a college degree to become a Business Analyst?
Yes, to become a Business Analyst, you really do need to have some type of college degree. The only time you can get a Business Analyst position without a college degree is when you have worked at a company for a long period of time, and you transition into a Business Analyst role as a natural progression of your original duties.
- What level of degree do you need?
I recommend a 4-year Bachelor’s degree. This will help your resume to meet the minimum requirements of the automated recruitment process.
- What should your degree be?
There are four key areas that could be relevant:
- any type of business degree.
- any type of IT degree
- any type of management degree
- a less common area is any math degree
Want more details? Check out Jeremy’s video response, What College Degree Do I Need To Become A Business Analyst?
There are so many Business Analyst roles and hybrid roles that cover a wide range of differing responsibilities. A basic distinction is that the Business Analyst role could be leaning more towards the business, or more towards IT.
A Business Analyst role leaning more towards the business will be involved in the processes, goals and objectives of the business, identifying problems, and uncovering opportunities, as well as being involved in case studies and research.
A Business Analyst role leaning more towards IT will be involved in software projects: defining the requirements, and translate the business’s needs into technical documents, determining hardware systems, etc. If you’re interested in heading down this stream, being a technical person/having more technical skills may help.
Want more details? Check out Jeremy’s video response, Do I Need To Be Technical To Become a Business Analyst?
You need to gain relevant experience you can utilize both in your resume and in the interview. This experience can be gained from taking online courses (such as those we offer here at The BA Guide), volunteering for local churches and non-profit organizations, or simply practicing your skills through the guided direction of a Business Analyst.
In addition, be sure you’re applying for positions that don’t require experience. If the job posting is asking for 2-3 years of BA experience and you have 0 years, it is probably not worth your time to jump into that application process. Instead, find those Junior BA or Associate BA roles that ask for 0-1 years of experience and show them why you’re the best candidate for the job.
A good way to get started is to hook up with a recruiting company and look for a contract position. These positions are generally a little easier to get into as there is a definitive end to them, but they can provide you with valuable experience and potentially give you the opportunity to be hired by that company if you impress them.
Due to the popularity and growth of the Business Analyst role, there are many companies and organizations out there offering various Business Analyst certifications. Some, like the IIBA and PMI, are highly touted and recognized as the gold standard of the profession. Others are more learning websites, including Udemy, that offer certifications after completing various training or courses. To better explain, let’s break the certification down into two pieces, the learning and the actual certification.
Learning – This is the most important aspect and should be the reason you’re taking the training to begin with. Ultimately, you’re getting a certification to show your capabilities of accomplishing something. Without the learning, the certification is useless.
Paper Certification – The actual certification can be good to help you land your first Business Analyst position or to help you advance within the company, but only if it is recognizable. While my Business Analyst Fundamentals course certification proves that you learned valuable knowledge, techniques, and skills, it’s not as highly regarded or recognized as the IIBA’s CBAP. With that being said, the learning and practical knowledge gained from the Business Analyst Fundamentals course will provide you more value than solely passing a test.
If you are an aspiring Business Analyst, your focus should not be on getting a piece of paper that says you can perform a set of standards. Instead, you want that certification program to teach the knowledge and skills to effectively execute within your projects. With that being said, IIBA has a new entry level certification that can help you standout among other aspiring Business Analysts. Check out the FAQ, “What Business Analyst Certification Should I Get?”
If you’re a current Business Analyst, certifications can help open up doors for promotions as it shows the company you are dedicated and willing to continually increase your value to projects, but keep in mind: your performance in the position will play a bigger part.
The two most recognizable organizations for Business Analysis certifications are the IIBA and the PMI. Certifications from either of these two organizations are highly touted in Business Analysis. Currently, I would say the IIBA is ahead in companies adopting their standards, but the PMI is a more mature organization and are pushing hard into the market. You really can’t go wrong with either one of them.
New or Aspiring Business Analysts – Due to various certification prerequisites, if you are an aspiring or new Business Analyst, you really only have one choice, IIBA’s ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis). This certification shows you have the base knowledge and skills to perform well in a Business Analyst role. The best part: there are very limited eligibility requirements, none of which require you to currently be a Business Analyst. If you’re looking to land your first Business Analyst job or recently landed you first BA job, this certification can be a differentiator when the employer is comparing you with other potential candidates for the job opening or a promotion.
Current Business Analysts – For people who have been working as Business Analysts for a number of years, there are more options for you to choose from:
- CCBA (IIBA) – Designed for Business Analysts with 3-5 years of experience
- CBAP (IIBA) – Designed for Business Analysts with 5+ years of experience (considered by many to be the gold standard)
- PBA (PMI) – Designed for Business Analysts with 2-4 years of experience (PMI’s first Business Analyst certification)