Business Analyst Certification Options – Introducing the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA)

As Bridging the Gap introduced the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™, which you can earn when you participate in The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the ACBA, and also how it compares to the certification options offered by other providers, like IIBA® and PMI®.

So today, I’m going to answer some of the questions we receive about business analyst certification options, and also share WHY I chose to launch the ACBA.

Why Business Analyst Certification Is Important

Certification is important because having a professional association and a certification process unites us as professionals. The certification process and body of knowledge bring us together, with a shared understanding of the role. They make us all stronger.

And on a personal level, certifications give us recognition and credibility. People see us as more authoritative in our profession when we have a certification. I fought this for a long time because I didn’t think I needed any letters behind my name to be a good BA. And I didn’t. I was a good BA.

  • But when I earned my CBAP® nearly 10 years ago, it gave me an extra layer of credibility.
  • It was true when Bridging the Gap became an Endorsed Education Provider™ (EEP™) of IIBA® – people automatically had more interest in our business analyst training courses, even though nothing about them had changed!
  • And I’ve seen it be true for our initial ACBA Recipients too – I’ve heard stories of shout-outs from managers, contacts from recruiters, people coming to THEM, and asking about their experience.

Like it or not, having a certification and letters to put behind your name does elevate you and your professional stature.

And on a very practical level, if you are looking for a business analyst job, or just want to know you could someday, having a business analyst certification allows you to represent yourself as a professional with a BA certification.

Business Analyst Certifications Not Required to Get Started

While certifications are incredibly important to our profession and can give you an immediate career boost, having a certification is not a pre-requisite to getting started. There are opportunities to get started in the here and now.

For over a decade, we’ve been helping mid-career professionals start business analyst careers, with or without their certifications, by applying business analyst techniques on the job, identifying their transferable business analyst skills, and receiving the training and instructor support they need to feel really confident about moving into a business analyst role.

Why the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™?

And that leads me to why I created the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™.

We’ve been providing online training since 2010, and our courses have always included a combination of pre-recorded, on-demand training and on-the-job application.

In The Business Analyst Blueprint® program, participants learn and apply a wide range of business analyst techniques on-the-job, or through volunteering, and have their work reviewed by an instructor to meet rigorous program and industry standards.

Historically this has been a requirement just to earn a certificate of completion for the program. And by creating this sort of learning experience, our participants have achieved some phenomenal results.

It’s not uncommon that as aspiring business analysts, be recognized quickly for more on-the-job opportunities, and expand the role they are in (which may be QA, SME, or development) into more of a BA-focused role. Often their transition to a full or official business analyst role then happens within a year or two of finishing the program.

As a practicing professional build up confidence in their business analyst skills, that enables them to move into more senior business analyst roles or step into new business domains or lead and manage other BAs in their organization.

The demands of The Business Analyst Blueprint® program are significant – there are 4 modules in 4 key skill areas – business process analysis, use cases and wireframes, data modeling, and the business analysis process framework. For each module, they prepare and submit a workbook demonstrating they’ve applied the program content on-the-job.

This could involve preparing visual models, writing out requirements documentation, engaging with stakeholders to discover or validate the information. It’s true on-the-job application. There is no fictitious case study to use – participants apply what they learn in the real-world.

That workbook goes through a rigorous instructor review. Many are sent back for revisions and updates. Not everyone passes.

And there was a point at which I realized that what we are asking of our participants deserved more than a certificate of completion. They are demonstrating that they can successfully apply the foundational BA techniques on-the-job, and they deserve a certification as a result.

And so came to be the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™.

There Was Another Driver For Me

Most of the professionals we help at Bridging the Gap are mid-career, meaning they have at least a few years of professional experience. Some have decades of experience.

And while they may not yet be ready for a senior-level certification that requires past work experience in business analysis, neither are they served by an entry-level certificate like the ECBA™.

The Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ provides an opportunity for these professionals to earn a certification that aligns with the work experience they have.

And Even More Than This

Ever since I founded Bridging the Gap, part of my mission has been helping us as professionals understand and appreciate our own value, to gain the recognition we deserve and feel truly confident in our skill sets. Granting a certification is a way that I’m serving that larger purpose.

Because when individuals receive a certification they do see their own value, others do recognize them, and they do feel more confident.

Application-Based Business Analyst Certifications Versus Exam-Based Options

Now, when it comes to the difference between the ACBA and the certifications provided by IIBA® and PMI®, it’s really an ‘apples to oranges’ comparison.

These professional certifications are exam-based certifications. You’ll find many providers that teach certification prep courses, and these courses are designed to help you pass the exam. You submit the application, you pass the exam, and you receive the certification.

I don’t say that to minimize the process – these exams are rigorous, and many people do not pass on their first try. I studied for a solid 3 months to pass my CBAP® exam and it was one of the more challenging exams I’ve ever taken. And even submitting the application was quite challenging.

But at the end of the day, they are exams, and that’s an entirely different type of certification than what we offer at Bridging the Gap.

The ACBA on the other hand is an applied certification. It’s in the very name – Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ – and it represents not just your documented work experience, but the validation of your work experience according to our rigorous certification standards.

It certifies not just that you know how to pass a test, but also that you can perform the foundational business analysis techniques in an industry-standard way on the job. This requires you to go through our specific training materials, because that’s where we teach you how to do each of these techniques, and educate you on the certification and industry standards.

The only way to earn your ACBA is by joining a session of The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, and you can find the details on that by clicking the link below this video.

What Business Analyst Certification Is Right For You?

You may be wondering what certification is right for you?

From a professional perspective, I believe there is room for all types of certifications and probably many more in the business analysis space as well. I look forward to professionals having a myriad of options so they can choose what serves them and their career goals.

The ACBA is right for you if:

  • You are looking for practical training that you can immediately apply on-the-job and gain hands-on experience, not just abstract knowledge or theory.
  • You are willing to invest significant time and energy learning and applying business analyst skill sets to create more opportunities in your current role, or are willing to volunteer to gain experience.
  • You want to confirm what you know (and don’t) and fill in any gaps in understanding and build confidence by having an outside perspective on your work.
  • You want to put all the techniques together in an end-to-end process that you can apply again and again, and even use as the foundation of your business analysis practice.
  • You may be thinking of IIBA® certification in the future, but are still lacking confidence in your actual work experience. Many of our participants find their exam prep for the CCBA® or CBAP® is much easier after participating in our programs because the knowledge has a place to “land” as they build more extensive experience.
  • You want to build a portfolio of vetted work samples that you can share with employers to represent your ability to actually do this work.
  • You are looking for more credibility, and want a credential that is aligned to your level of career experience, that you can put on your resume, post to LinkedIn, and share with your employer.

How to Earn Your Applied Certification in Business Analysis™

If this sounds like you, we’d be honored to help you take your next step and create a purpose-filled career in business analysis.

Click here to learn more about The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, where you can earn your Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).

We build our profession one business analyst at a time. Success starts with you.

How Your ACBA Can Help You Add More Value as a Business Analyst

In this panel of practicing business analysts, 3 of our ACBAs shared their real-world experiences into how they’ve applied business analysis best practices to create value for their organizations.

Tune in to discover how:

  • Business processes have helped our panelists identify inefficiencies, find more cost-effective solutions, and ensure you are building solutions that truly benefit the business.
  • Use cases and wireframes help them reduce rework late in the software development cycle and prevent missed requirements.
  • Data modeling techniques and clarifying terminology help you reduce communication issues and identify data quality issues early on, which saves an immense amount of time later in the project.

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Laura Brandenburg

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