5 Common BA Questions Answered: What certifications should I pursue as a BA?

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Oct 07, 2023
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As I coach business analysts around the globe, there are 5 common Business Analysis questions I receive from aspiring and existing BAs:

  1. How do I move into a BA Role with no BA Experience?
  2. What technologies should I know as a BA?
  3. What certifications should I pursue as a BA
  4. What is the next logical role after becoming a BA?
  5. How do I show my value when no one knows what I do?

And if you missed part 1 which is the answer to, “How do I move into a BA Role with no BA Experience?” check it out: How do I move into a BA role with no BA experience? and in part 2 learn "What technologies should I know as a Business Analyst?"

This is Part 3 of the 5-part series where I will focus on the third common question, I receive which is "What certifications should I pursue as a BA?" If you would prefer to watch/listen to the video you can find it here.

>> It's time to enter the DOJO! <<

I want to first start off by saying, I am an advocate for certifications. I have a lot of them and they increase your knowledge, keep you relevant in your field, and give you credibility as a knowledgeable source of information in your field. However, I am sure you have encountered individuals who have certifications but cannot effectively apply the concepts they learned in the certification course or program. This in turn harms their credibility, and can sometimes take away from the integrity of the certification course or program. Therefore, it is very important to be intentional about the certifications you want to pursue. Not only for you but also for the organization providing the certification.

In this article, I will discuss things to consider when pursuing a certification such as:

  1. Why do you want to pursue a specific certification?
  2. How to determine the certifications that are right for you
  3. I will wrap up with some of the most recognized types of business analysis certifications out there.

Let's go ahead and jump right in.

Let's first start with, WHY do you want to pursue a specific certification?

There are many reasons professionals like yourself want to pursue certifications. Certifications offer several benefits and advantages that can help you advance your career and reach your personal and professional goals. Understanding WHY you want to pursue a professional certification is key. There are some professionals who have certifications but cannot successfully demonstrate the concepts learned in the course or program. This then makes you wonder what was the reasoning behind obtaining the certification in the first place. Don't just get a certification because it's the hottest thing on the market or because someone told you to. Do soul-searching to understand why you want the certification in the first place. Even if your company is paying for the certification the long-term investment in your professional career is worth taking the certification seriously and learning everything you can.

Here are some considerations when doing your soul-searching to determine your WHY.

  • Number one is Career Advancement. When you have a professional certification, it can increase your chances of obtaining positions in your career that may not be afforded to you without the certification. Employers often value certified individuals for their specialized knowledge and skills, which may lead to promotions, salary raises, or new job opportunities.
  • Number two is Skill Validation. When you obtain a certification, it can validate for you and potential employers your expertise in a specific field or domain. Certifications can provide a standardized measure of knowledge and skills, giving employers confidence in your abilities. But not only the employers, but you will be more confident in your abilities as well.
  • Number three is MarketabilityMarketability is your attractiveness to a potential employer. When you are certified in your field you often gain greater marketability and a competitive edge in the job market you are in. Certifications can make a resume stand out and can catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters.
  • Number four is Continuous Learning. Pursuing certifications encourages continuous learning and personal development. It helps you stay updated with the latest trends, best practices, and advancements in your industry. In addition, it's prudent to stay relevant in your field and your market, and pursuing certifications can help you do just that.
  • Number five is Credibility and Trust. If you are looking to build your credibility and trust among employers, and colleagues, then obtaining a certification can do just that for you. When you are certified you are perceived as reliable and competent, which can lead to more significant responsibilities and opportunities for leadership roles and advancement in your career.
  • Number six is Industry Recognition. Certifications are often well-respected within certain industries and can set you apart from your colleagues, peers, and potential competing applicants when pursuing a job position. Holding a recognized certification can elevate an individual's status among peers and within professional associations or organizations. Not only that but there are many doors of opportunities that can open for you when you are recognized in your industry as credible and trustworthy.
  • November seven is Job Security. In some industries, certifications are a requirement for specific roles or to maintain security in your job. Some positions may require certified individuals for critical positions or projects.
  • Number eight is Networking Opportunities. Many certification programs include membership in professional associations or communities, where you can experience networking with like-minded professionals and industry experts.
  • Number nine is Personal Satisfaction. You may want to pursue a certification as purely a source of personal satisfaction. Nothing more and nothing less. You have a personal goal and you want to achieve it.

Overall, certifications offer professionals tangible benefits that go beyond simply adding a line to your resume. The knowledge, skills, and credibility gained through certification can positively impact your career and contribute to your long-term success.

Okay, now that you have determined your WHY let's move on to the second part of this video which is how to determine the certifications that are right for you. Here are some considerations to take into account before you pursue certifications.

  • The first thing to consider is relevance and value. Make sure the certification is relevant to your career goals and adds value to your skill set and where you want to go in your career. Take time to research the certification's content, objectives, and how it aligns with the industry's current demands. Assess whether the certification is recognized and respected within your field, region, and industry.
  • The second consideration is accreditation and credibility. You may want to verify the certification's accreditation and credibility first before making an investment of money and time. You want to seek certifications from reputable organizations or institutions known for maintaining high standards of quality and professionalism. Recognized certifications carry more weight in the job market and can enhance your professional reputation.
  • The third consideration is time and commitment. It's important to consider the time and effort required to achieve the certification. Some certifications demand extensive preparation, study, and practical experience. It's important to evaluate and consider if you can meet the time commitments and demands of the certification process. Take a careful look at balancing your personal and professional responsibilities.
  • The fourth consideration is the return on your investment. Assess the financial investment required for obtaining the certification, including exam fees, study materials, training courses, and potential travel expenses. Weigh this cost against the potential benefits, such as salary increases, job opportunities, or improved job performance. Then calculate the expected ROI to determine if the certification is economically feasible for you.
  • Finally, number 5 is industry demand and job market. Research the demand for professionals with a specific certification in your industry or job market. This will help you understand whether the certification will open new career opportunities or provide a competitive edge against other candidates.

Now remember, some certifications require ongoing maintenance, which might involve renewals, continuing education, or recertification exams. Consider the long-term commitment and the cost associated with maintaining the certification.

Now that you have done some reflection on why you want to pursue a certification, how to determine the type of certification to pursue, and what you will do once you have obtained the certification, let's talk specifically about some, not all, of the most recognized types of business analysis certifications available to you.

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®):

The CBAP® is offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis also known as the IIBA. It is designed for experienced business analysts who have in-depth knowledge and expertise in business analysis practices, principles, and techniques. Some of the benefits of pursuing this certification are that the CBAP certification demonstrates a high level of competence in business analysis and can enhance career opportunities and earning potential. It showcases your commitment to the profession and provides recognition among employers, clients, and peers.

I currently hold the designation of CBAP and I can tell you for me, it has increased my credibility and helped to elevate me as a thought leader in the space. In addition, as a Business Analyst coach, this certification gives my clients the confidence that I know what I am talking about when it comes to the BA discipline. So not only has this helped me in my professional career but also as an entrepreneur.

Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™, also known as the ECBA™:

This certification is also offered by the IIBA and is an entry-level certification for individuals who are new to business analysis or looking to transition into the field of business analysis. It covers foundational knowledge and terminology in business analysis. The ECBA certification is suitable for those starting their business analysis career. It helps establish credibility and demonstrates your understanding of the core concepts and terminology of business analysis.

Project Management Institute - Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®:

The PMI-PBA® certification is provided by the Project Management Institute also known as PMI. It is targeted at business analysts who work in a project management environment and emphasizes their role in project success. This certification recognizes your expertise in business analysis within the context of project management. It enhances your project management skills, making you more valuable to employers who value both skill sets. If you find that are doing both roles in your organization this may be the right certification for you.

Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering also known as the CPRE)®:

The CPRE® certification is offered by the International Requirements Engineering Board also known as IREB. This certification focuses on requirements engineering and management, including elicitation, documentation, and validation. The benefits of this certification validate your skills in gathering, documenting, and managing requirements, which are critical for successful project outcomes. It is particularly valuable for professionals specializing in requirements analysis and engineering.

Agile Analysis Certification also known as AAC®:

The AAC® is offered by the International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile). It is designed for business analysts working in Agile environments, focusing on their role in Agile development and project delivery. The AAC certification demonstrates your ability to apply business analysis practices within Agile frameworks. As Agile methodologies gain popularity, this certification helps you adapt your skills to Agile projects and teams.

Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ also known as the CCBA®:

The CCBA® is another certification provided by the IIBA and is positioned between the ECBA and the CBAP®. It is intended for intermediate-level business analysts with a few years of experience. The CCBA® certification validates your intermediate-level business analysis competencies, showing potential employers that you have practical experience and specialized knowledge in the field.

So here are 6 certifications you can start to research and explore if any of them are fit for you or interest you.

Again, some of the benefits of obtaining business analysis certifications include:

  • Increased Credibility
  • Career Advancement
  • Industry Recognition
  • Expanded Knowledge
  • Competitive Advantage

If you are interested in pursuing any of the certifications I mentioned and desire some certification training before taking the exams I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Michael White. He may not train in all the certifications mentioned, but he definitely trains on those offered by the IIBA.

Dr. Michael F. White is the founder of The Business Analysis Doctor, LLC, which is a global business analysis training provider. He has been a BA practitioner for over a decade.

He has an extensive background in business analysis, project management, and coaching.

He has driven innovation at some of the top financial institutions in the U.S.

Doc White also spearheaded an award-winning client service platform and holds a doctorate in Business Administration, a CBAP®, and the IIBA-AAC.

He has training courses for the CBAP,® CCBA®, ECBA®, AAC®, and more.

Check him out at "thebadoc.com" to obtain your training needs.

Well, there you have it.

I hope this helps and provides guidance to you on pursuing certifications in the future.

Certifications have many benefits but the motivation behind them is important to understand as that will be the driving factor for you, and may very well determine if you are pursuing the certification for the right reason.

Before I go, Part 4 of this 5-Part series will be coming soon where I will discuss the 4th common question I receive, "What is the next logical role after becoming a BA?"

Until next time,
The BA Martial Artist is signing off! 🥋


P.S. If you are looking to determine how you should gain clarity and focus on where you want to go in your Business Analysis career, my “Career Ninja Mastery Kit™” is the tool for you.

P.P.S. If you are working to advance your career and and you need additional assistance on updating your resume I offer an online self-paced resume course and resume review services working with me directly. If you need additional help with interview preparation I offer an online self-paced interview preparation and execution course and interview preparation services working with me directly.


Author: Paula Bell

Paula Bell is a Certified Business Analyst, Master Life Coach, Certified Diversity & Inclusion Manager Coach, and Career Development Coach, with over 20 years of experience working in corporate America in varied project roles and industries. In addition, for the last 20+ years, Paula has been successful in running a consulting business that focuses on mind, body, and soul for over the last 20 years. She is passionate about inspiring, motivating, and encouraging others holistically, leveraging martial arts concepts, hence the alias “The BA Martial Artist”. To find out more about Paula you can visit her website at www.paulaabell.com.

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