Selecting a BA Certification: PMI-PBA vs. CBAP vs. CCBA

BACertSelect490267131Given the changes in the IT landscape, the field of business analysis (BA) is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the number of BA jobs to increase 19 percent by 2022. This research indicates a growing need for professionals to become skilled in effective requirements management.

Pursuing a certification is a great way to become one of those needed skilled professionals. But which BA certification is right for you? The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)® issues the CBAP® and CCBA® certifications, and now PMI® has the PMI-BPA®. Here is a look at the eligibility requirements and steps for obtaining each certification:

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)

The PMI-PBA credential spotlights your ability to effectively work with stakeholders to define their business requirements, shape the output of projects and drive successful business outcomes.

Who should apply?
Anyone focused on:

  • Evaluating and analyzing business problems
  • Managing requirements within a project or program

The PMI-PBA Handbook states:

The PMI-PBA credential recognizes an individual’s expertise in business analysis and using these tools and techniques to improve the overall success of projects.

In addition, the PMI-PBA credential carries a high level of professional credibility. It requires a combination of business analysis training, experience working on projects and examination on business analysis principles, practices, tool, and techniques. This global credential also supports individuals in meeting the needs of organizations that rely on business analysis practitioners to play key roles on their project teams.

The eligibility requirements are:

If you have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent):

  • 7,500 hours (five years) working as a practitioner of BA. This experience must have been earned in the last eight years.
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams. This project experience can be inclusive of the 7,500 hours of BA experience listed. Any BA experience that occurred within the context of a project can be included. This experience must have been earned in the last eight years.
  • 35 contact hours. Hours must have been earned in BA practices.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, higher degree or global equivalent:

  • 4,500 hours (three years) working as a practitioner of BA. This experience must have been earned in the last eight years.
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams. This project experience can be inclusive of the 4,500 hours of BA experience listed. Any BA experience that occurred within the context of a project can be included. This experience must have been earned in the last eight years.
  • 35 contact hours. Hours must have been earned in BA practices.

Good news: If you have an active PMP® or PgMP® credential, PMI has already verified you have exceeded the project experience requirements, which means that you have fulfilled the general project experience requirements.

After verifying you have the requirements, here is how to apply:

  • Go to PMI.org to apply online (easiest), or you can download and print the application. If you are using the online tool, you have 90 days to complete the application process.
  • Pay the fee of $405 for PMI members or $555 for non-members for computer-based training (CBT). Re-examination fee for CBT is $250 for members and $400 for non-members.
  • PMI will review your application within five days after it is submitted.
  • If you are audited, you have 90 days to submit your materials to PMI.
  • Once approved, you have one year from the approval date to take the exam.
  • The exam is 200 multiple-choice questions (25 are pre-test questions). You have four hours to complete the exam. The exam blueprint is:
Domain 1: Needs Assessment (five tasks) 18%
Domain 2: Planning (six tasks) 22%
Domain 3: Analysis (eight tasks) 35%
Domain 4: Traceability and Monitoring (five tasks) 15%
Domain 5: Evaluation 10%
  • CBT is administered by Prometric through www.prometric.com/pmi (follow the steps to schedule your exam). Note there is a fee to cancel or reschedule 30 days beyond your scheduled appointment. If you need a paper-based exam or have special needs, please check the handbook for instructions about any accommodations you might need.
  • After you earn your certification, you will receive a letter containing information about the certification, including how to renew it.
  • You must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years in order to maintain your certification. These PDUs must be in specialized areas of BA. Once you have the 60 PDUs, you may submit the renewal fee of $60 for PMI members and $150 for non members.

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

According to the IIBA:

You will want to consider the many professional benefits of earning the CBAP certification if you have an advanced level of knowledge and experience and are working in any of the following roles:

  • BA
  • Systems analysis
  • Requirements analysis or management
  • Process improvement
  • Consulting

Go here to see if you qualify for the CBAP.

CBAP certification qualifications are:

  • At least 7,500 hours of BA work experience aligned with A Guide to the Business Analysis Book of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) in the last 10 years
  • At least 900 hours in four of the six knowledge areas
  • At least 21 hours of professional development in the past four years
  • Two references from a career manager, client or CBAP recipient
  • Signed code of conduct

If you do not meet those requirements, then you may want to look at the CCBA, which I’ll cover next.

Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)

IIBA says:

CCBA recipients are recognized for the investment they have already made in their BA careers and include professionals working in the role of:

  • BA
  • Systems analysis
  • Requirements analysis or management
  • Process improvement
  • Consulting

Here are the qualifications:

  • At least 3,750 hours of BA work experience aligned with the BABOK® Guide in the last seven years
  • At least 900 hours in two of the six knowledge areas or 500 hours in four of the six knowledge areas
  • At least 21 hours of professional development in the past four years
  • At least a high school education or equivalent
  • Two references from a career manager, client or CBAP recipient
  • Signed code of conduct

Here is a look at the eligibility process for both the CBAP and CCBA, as well as the steps for obtaining these certifications:

  1. Begin documenting your work experience. Remember that only 25 percent of time you worked on a project can be counted as BA activity.
  2. Register for training to prepare for the exam and earn the Professional Development (PD) credits. Remember that the credits must be acquired within the last four years. If you use the training for your PD requirements, then do not submit your application until the class is over.
  3. Complete the application. You can get it here from IIBA’s website. You can call IIBA at 1−866−512−4422 with questions about your application and its submission.
  4. Submit your application. You will be contacted in about three weeks to learn whether you have been approved.
  5. The cost of the application and exam is $450 (USD) for IIBA members or $575 (USD) for non-members. Once your application is approved and your exam fee is paid to IIBA, you may take the exam. You will receive an email notification to register online for the exam.
  6. The CBAP and CCBA exams each have 150 questions and are computer-based. All the questions are multiple-choice with four possible answers. You have three and a half hours to complete the exam. You will be notified immediately if you passed or failed. If you failed, you will get information on what to do for a retake. You must pass the exam within one year of your application approval or two exam attempts, whichever comes first. The fee to retake the exam is $65 USD.
  7. Recertification is required every three years and can be done through any BA-related professional development.

It will be interesting to see whether the PMI-PBA certification affects the BA certification. Will professionals pursue this certification over the others because it is PMI accredited? In a year, I think we will have a better understanding of the BA certification in the market and whether it will be a hiring requirement, regardless of which vendor provides it.

Related Courses
PMI-PBA℠ Certification Boot Camp
CBAP/CCBA Certification Prep Boot Camp

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