CBAP® Certification: 7 Steps for Managing the Application Process


Are you interested in applying to become a CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional)? If you are like many business analysts who would like to become certified, the exam is not the only major hurdle. The application process itself is challenging and complicated. The IIBA® (International Institute of Business Analysis) intended the application process to screen out candidates who are lacking in experience to become a CBAP. The background of a BA is nearly (or even equally) as important as passing the exam.

We know several people who have been studying for the CBAP exam, but have put it off because of the application. If you are one of them, your study time may be wasted if you do not take the exam prior to the current version ending July 31, 2009. That is the last date the version 1.6 exam can be taken according to IIBA. It would be a shame to waste your preparation and study efforts! But, you should plan on applying by June 1 to be sure your application will be processed in time.

This brief article is intended for anyone who is contemplating applying for the CBAP exam, but has postponed it because of the application. IIBA improved its application submission process in March of 2009, but the requirements are still strenuous. We lay out the steps in the application process to help candidates manage their application, to be able to concentrate on studying to pass the exam.

To take the CBAP exam, your application must be pre-approved. The professional development hours must also be complete before applying. This latter requirement has prevented more than a few otherwise-qualified applicants from being allowed to sit for the exam. Make sure you can document your education hours with a certificate or other written proof.


  1. Visit the IIBA Application page as your “home” for applying for the CBAP. It has links to the online application and other useful information. Download the Certification Handbook to read an overview of the process. The Application page has a link to get the handbook.

  2. Start your online application. We suggest you complete the CBAP Candidate Reference section first.

    • You need to add two references who can attest to your BA knowledge and skills. They could be managers, peers, clients, or other CBAPs.

    • They will receive an email form to be completed and returned electronically to IIBA. Your application can’t be completed until your references return their forms, so we advise starting with this step.

  3. Complete the Personal Information and Education sections. These are both simple and self-explanatory. You need a high school or higher education, and be prepared to produce a transcript to prove it. You may be audited as I (Rich) was and you will need the transcript.

  4. The Work Experience section is extensive. Click “Add New Work Experience” to start it.

    • Before you start, create an electronic record of your projects so you can copy and paste into the online application. Your session may time out if you are interrupted, and you may lose what you entered (there is no intermediate save function). Contact us if you need a template to use.

    • You will need to demonstrate 7,500 hours of BA experience over the past 10 years.

    • You need experience in 4 out of the 6 core Knowledge Areas (KAs).

    • You need to list the projects you've worked on BA activities. IIBA does not count work done on roles other than a BA: meaning, if you managed projects, did testing, or product training, etc., do not list those hours. List only BA work, such as requirements elicitation, analysis, planning and managing, etc.

    • IIBA asks for your project contacts. List them, even if your contacts are no longer employed at the organization you did the work for. Hopefully you have their email address for IIBA to contact. They do audit this, so be as complete as you can.

    • By project, you need to select the BA tasks from the list given in the “BA Activities” area. Some of the tasks are not BA-related (such as “Identified project risks”) and they will be deducted from your total. To be safe, we suggest you list at least 8,000 project hours, and 8,500 is even safer.

    • The Knowledge Areas section is a detailed survey of your involvement with each of the core KAs. Select the 4 KAs you performed the most, and be sure to list 0% for the other two you did least or not at all.

  5. Your application requires a $125 USD fee for applying and it is non-refundable. There is also an exam fee of $325 USD (for members and $450 USD for non-members of IIBA). The IIBA will collect the application fee online when you apply. You will need to send a check later for the exam once your application has been accepted.

  6. You will need to agree to the IIBA Code of Conduct during the application process.

  7. Submit your application, pay your fee, and then wait for approval. The IIBA has shortened the wait from 30 down to 21 days with the new online application. Some students tell us their applications have been questioned, so you may be asked to provide more information. We can help you through this if yours gets questioned. Send us a note to [email protected] if you would like our help.

Authors: Richard Larson, CBAP, PMP and Elizabeth Larson, CBAP, PMP - Principals, Watermark Learning, Inc.
Watermark Learning helps improve project success with outstanding business analysis and project management training and mentoring. We foster results through our unique blend of industry best practices, a practical approach, and an engaging delivery. We convey retainable real-world skills, to motivate and enhance staff performance, adding up to enduring results. With our academic partner, Auburn University, Watermark Learning provides Masters Certificate Programs to help organizations be more productive, and assist individuals in their professional growth. Watermark is a PMI Global Registered Education Provider, and an IIBA Endorsed Education Provider. Our
CBAP Certification Preparation class and CBAP Certification Study Guide have helped numerous people already pass the CBAP exam. For more information, contact us at 800-646-9362, or visit us at



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