Help A BA Get Certified! How do I document requirements for CBAP® certification?

Reader’s question:

I need some help in documenting my BA experience for the CBAP requirements, i.e. total 7500 hrs exp, 900 hrs exp. in any 4 knowledge areas of the BABOK, the 21 PD hours and 2 references…how do I prepare this document for applying for the exam?

Aaron’s response:

Fortunately for those interested in BA certification the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) simplified their application process a couple years ago and made it available online.  You may now go to their website and apply for either the CCBATM or CBAP® certification online.

Unfortunately I see that the IIBA has removed the link to the paper version of the application.  This could serve as a useful guide as to the information that the online application process will request.  Without this useful guide I shall have to describe the information that you must document to successfully navigate the application process.

Work Experience

The CBAP® requires 7,500 hours of BA work experience over the last 10 years.  The CCBATM requires 3,750 hours over the last seven years.  So over that time span you need to document every project that you worked on in which you performed any Business Analysis (BA) tasks (as defined in the BABOK®).  For every project you will be asked to document, the organization that project was for (name, address and website), a contact person for the project (this should be a project manager or a manager for the organization; name, phone number(s), email address), total hours spent on the project and of those hours how many were spent performing BA tasks.  The total BA hours of all the projects documented must add up to at least 7,500 for the CBAP® or 3,750 for the CCBATM.

Hint:  document more than the minimum requirement.  Your application will go through a review by the IIBA.  If they should feel any of the tasks you defined as BA do not qualify, then they will reduce the total BA hours of your application.  If you fall below the minimum requirement your application will be denied, so document more than the minimum.

These articles cover the work history section in more depth:

Laura’s CBAP Journey: Finishing the Dreaded Work History Section

Doug’s Diary of a CBAP Seeker: Taking Stock of My Business Analyst Experience

A CBAP Application Worksheet

Knowledge Area Experience

The CBAP® requires at least 900 hours in four of the six knowledge areas (KA) defined in the BABOK®.  The CCBATM requires at least 900 hours in two of the six or at least 500 hours in four of the six knowledge areas. On your application this will be documented within the projects you documented above for the work experience.  Once you have documented the information above for each project, the application process will take you through each of the six knowledge areas; first asking you what percentage of the BA hours of the project was spent in this knowledge area.  It will then ask you to check off tasks that you performed in this knowledge area.

Hint:  The six knowledge area percentages for one project must add up to 100%.  Then you can take the percentage multiplied by the total BA hours of the project to determine number of hours in that knowledge area (i.e, 1,000 total project BA hours * 10% Elicitation KA = 100 hours in Elicitation KA).  Add up the KA hours across all projects to verify that you have the required number of hours in the required number of KAs.  Again, document more than the minimum required to ensure that your application stands up to the review process.  Try to document 1,000 to 1,500 hours in four or five KAs.

Professional Development Hours

Both the CBAP® and CCBATM require 21 Professional Development (PD) hours of BA training to sit for the exam.  This must be a training class on a BA topic that has been completed within the last four years.  In the past this meant an instructor-led, in-class training on a BA topic or underlining competency.  However, these days there are virtual training options available over the internet that qualifies for PD hours.  The requirement that an instructor must lead the student(s) through the material still remains.  You must also have some interaction with the instructor and other students in the class.

There must also be a measurable learning objective to the class.  If it meets all these requirements it should qualify for PD hours.  Classes, virtual or otherwise, offered by Endorsed Education Providers (EEPs) of the IIBA have already been evaluated by the IIBA and the education provider may advertise the PD hours for which the class qualifies.  Should you take a class from a non-EEP, you can only list the class on the certification application and wait for the IIBA to determine if it qualifies for the PD hours that you are requesting.


You will need two people that will attest to your candidacy for certification – they are your references.  They will have to sign a statement that basically states, “I endorse your name’s candidacy for Business Analysis certification.  They will also have to rate your BA skills.  So these must be people that you have worked with either in the past or present and will have the ability to rate your skill level.  There are three categories that these references can come from 1) a career manager (someone that is involved in your annual review process), 2) a client (internal or external), or 3) a CBAP recipient.  During the application process you will have to give two names and their contact information.

With all this documented you should be able to complete the IIBA certification application process.  I do recommend getting this information down on paper before going online to start the application process.  As you can see, the amount of information you are being asked to document is quite intensive, especially in the work experience and knowledge area experience areas.  The application process itself is part of the process of obtaining the certification and is intended to be daunting.  Some will shy away from having to do so much documentation; and thereby, never receive this certification.  Don’t let the process frighten you away.  You don’t have to complete it in one sitting.  You may start the process and see the information that it is requesting.  Stop there and start documenting the last ten years on paper; then go back to the online process.  Take your time, be complete and you will find how non-intrusive the process really is.

>>Learn More About Becoming a CBAP or CCBA

Interested in becoming a CBAP or CCBA? We cover 8 steps to the CBAP certification, that will take you to just learning about the certification to successfully sitting for the exam.

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  1. Janet Wood says

    @Aaron – lovely final point! I hope you won’t mind but I definitely intend to use it whenever I get that question. Thanks

    • Janet, please feel free to use that and any point in the conversation. I prefer that people be fully and correctly informed. People will make up their own minds as to which certification will be of most use to their career, but having correct information makes the decision easier and more informed.

  2. Hello Aaron

    I have a very lengthy question as I am confused and request a honest feedback from you, as you are senior and experienced.

    I am in the initial preparation phase for CBAP. However today I read in a website that PMP is going to start a Certification called Professional in Business Analysis (PBA). If that is the case, then already CBAP is not as popularised as PMP, from job perspective in any IT company. In addition to that, for a project manager, PMP certification has become a norm in the industry, whereas for a business analysis, CBAP is not even a norm or optional in the industry.

    Also, I heard that CBAP is going to come with a new version this year 2014.

    From the above, I am confused whether to proceed or not. I am already a PMP certified and also have more than 10 years of business analysis experience.

    Your feedback is highly appreciable.

    Based on your feedback, if CBAP is not suggested now, then I will proceed for ITIL certification to move into managerial positions.

    • Kumar,

      My bias will be self-evident in my reply, but it is honest feedback. The PMI BA certification will not become any norm of any industry, IMHO, PMI has no business offering a BA certification. I realize they are just looking for additional revenue streams, but for an organization whose practitioners have to collaborate with other team members, they are doing this thing on their own. They have no expertise in business analysis and did not reach out to the organization that does. The IIBA reached out to the Agile Alliance to collaboratively create the Agile Extension to the BABOK. PMI needs to learn a lesson on collaboration.

      That aside, you fall into the common trap of comparing a certification that has been around for 30+ years to one that has been in existence for 7. Naturally you don’t see the same market recognition of the CBAP as the PMP, because the PMP has 25+ more years to develop that recognition. Take a look in 30 years and see what the market will look like.

      I guarantee the CBAP is growing in recognition in most, if not every, country in the world. However, I hope it never has 400K recipients, at that point it becomes worthless. I have been told by multiple people that the CBAP is harder to get than the PMP, and for that I am thankful.

      My recommendation is to get the CBAP, and get started on it now. The exam will not change until mid-2015; the new version of the BABOK is due out by end of the year and the exams will not change for at least six months following its publication. So you have plenty of time to get certified on the current version. You will not have to recertify on the new version, your current certification continues on as long as you keep it current through the recertification process. I was certified on the BABOK v1.6.

      As a last word on the upcoming PMI certification, we expect it to come out with similar requirements of IIBA’s CCBA certification. Whenever it comes out. The real question becomes, do you want the real thing or the cheap knock-off?

  3. Hello Aaron, the article is great and help immensely to those who are pursuing these certifications (including me). I came here looking for pointers and found many of them. 🙂
    Just wanted to say thanks.

  4. Hello Aaron,

    I work for a software company, should the organization be the software company that I work for or the client that the project was for?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Mehra,

      You could actually list either as they both received benefit from your work. Typically you should list the company you worked for; but a good rule of thumb is list the company that the contact person works for as the organization. For each project you will list an organization and contact person (email and phone number). List the organization for which the contact person works.

  5. Hi Neha,

    The requirement for 900 hours in four of the six knowledge areas is included in the 7500 total BA hours. Since the CBAP is the senior level BA certification the IIBA is looking for breadth and depth of knowledge in applicants. The 7500 hour requirement show depth of BA knowledge; the knowledge area requirement shows breadth of knowledge (considerable experience across at least four of the knowledge areas). So you only have to document 7500 hours of BA experience, but you will document which knowledge area(s) that experience is in. When done, that BA experience must have at least 900 hours in at least four of the defined BA knowledge areas.

  6. Hello Aaron,

    I have been working as a Business Analyst for the past 7 years. I am planning to start the application process of CBAP. However, I am a little confused about the 900 hours in the four knowledge area requirement.

    During these 7 years, I have been involved with almost all areas of Business Analysis and I have more than 7500 hours of BA hours.

    My question is if the six knowledge area percentages for one project must add up to 100%, then that means that the total hours in the six knowledge areas will always be equal to the BA hours (7500 or greater). How are BA hours different than the hours spent on the six knowledge areas. Am I missing something?


  7. Hi Sourav, most of what you describe are BA tasks. When you get into technical design that becomes the responsibility of the technical team and is not a BA task. In many organizations, especially smaller ones, people have to wear many hats and go across those roles. I would recommend you get the BABOK from IIBA. You can either join IIBA and get a free copy of it, or it is available to non-members for a nominal fee. The BABOK describes the BA tasks that would qualify as work experience to qualify for certification. Read through the tasks and techniques. When you are performing these tasks and techniques you are performing business analysis. Count those hours toward qualifying for certification. You would need 7,500 hours over the last 10 calendar years to qualify for the CBAP or 3,750 hours over the last seven calendar years to qualify for the CCBA. There are additional qualifications for that work experience across the knowledge areas, as well as training and reference qualifications. You have to meet all those qualifications. Download the CBAP and CCBA handbooks from the IIBA website to see all the qualifications.

  8. Sourav Bose says

    Hi Aaron,
    I have been working on Crystal Reports/Business Objects reporting for around 6 years. This requires me to directly interact with my business user for requirement analysis, do a feasibility study of whether the report is doable, discuss with the user and modify requirements accordingly if the previous requirement is unachievable. Next steps include converting the business requirements into a technical solution and then design the report as per the solution. I have had a stint as a functional analyst as well.

    Now with this kind of a work history do I qualify for a CBAP? My domain has been constant for the last 5.5 years.

  9. Hi Nidhi, by what you have described it certainly sounds like you qualify for the CCBA and perhaps the CBAP. All of my career has been in software development; it is not what industry you are in but what tasks you perform that determines if your work experience qualifies as BA tasks. The only way to find out for sure is to complete and submit the application and have the IIBA validate your qualifications. You can download their paper application to see the type of information they request on the application. Document your work experience on paper and count up your hours. Then you can use the IIBA online application process to actually submit your application. Also, learn from Jimmy’s mistake above. List more than the 3,750 hours required on your application so that if IIBA reduces your hours, because your hours are not BA tasks as defined in the BABOK, you won’t fall below the required hours.

  10. Hello Aaron, As of now, I work as Analyst (Software developement). But I have been closely working with my clients and analyzing their business from past 5.5 years (same client/domain). Though I am into software developement, but I have to talk to clients directly to gather requirements, provide solutions and then design. Do i qualify for CCBA?

  11. Nishant Choudhary says

    Hi Aaron,

    I am a Business Analyst working as a BA for last 5 years and 9 months now. I started my carrier as a BA and have worked almost non stop on like 10 project in whole carrier.

    I have been a delivery BA working from Scoping till Pre-UAT/UAT for 5 years. For the last 9 months i have been a Business Analyst – part of Product Management team in my organization.

    I have been in client interfacing as well as Offshore BA support for Engineering/QA teams.

    1. Request your evaluation if i look/meet 7500+ hours for CBAP.

    If i calculate roughly, i have assumed following work hours after discounting annual leaves from company, sick leave and national holidays:

    8 hours per day X 20 days X 5 years 8 months (69 months) = 11040

    2. Also, i am thinking of giving the following references for application. Please validate this this would be ok:
    — My lead BA in the project to whom i reported – but my appraisal was done by another senior manager.
    — Another lead BA from another project from my second company i worked for who did my annual appraisal.

    Does it have to be necessary that the references shouldbe people who did your annual appraisal?

    Many Thanks in Advance.


  12. Be careful. My application for the CBAP was just declined because they said I didn’t have enough BA hours although I had input all of my 7,500 hours. I have many more projects I could input, but put in the minimum because of how much time it takes. Now they want me to re-do the entire application which took me a month and pay the fee again!!! IIBA rip off! Just another money making scheme like the PMI. Having a CBAP doesn’t make someone a good BA

  13. Thanks Aaron,

    This helped me a great deal!!

  14. Thanks Aaron for the information presented – really helpful.
    Just wanted to clarify if the following activities that I have performed as BA can be listed as part of documenting the BA hours:
    a. Process improvement projects which involve a thorough study and understanding of AS-IS process, modelling the AS-IS process, identifying areas of improvement and then documenting the TO-BE process

    b. Gap analysis while upgrading to a new system. Even this involved thorough study of AS-IS processes and the COTS product, and then identifying and documenting the gaps.

    Both the activities above did involve performing activities like interaction / interviewing the stakeholders, performing workshops, obtaining sign-off etc.
    Kindly advice if this can be considered for documenting the BA hours.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Also, just to add to the above, as part of my role as BA, I have also been responsible for identifying the high level business test cases for User Acceptance Testing and writing the test cases in Mercury QC tool. Just want to know if this can be added to the BA hours at all?

  15. Thanks Aaron,
    If this is the case then its a good news for me 🙂


  16. Vicki, Yes those both would be considered past internal clients of your BA work and can be used as references on your CBAP application. It does help you application to use a career manager or CBAP recipient, instead of two people from the same classification (client), but you may use two past internal clients if need be.

  17. Aaron,

    Thanks for the reply. Just to confirm; I can give reference of:

    1: Ex-colleague who worked with me in previous company on a project where my role was BA. But this ex-colleague has left that company.

    2: Ex-colleague who worked with me in previous company on a project where my role was BA. This ex-colleague is still in same company.

    Thanks again!

  18. @Ami, you will document your BA work experience by project, listing a description of the purpose of the project, total hours, BA hours, a contact person, and checkoff tasks that you performed on the project. However, Janet is correct you may group “like” projects in the same timeframe together. So if you worked for a company doing requirements elicitation for system enhancements for five years, you could actually list that as one project, or multiple projects, it is your choice.

    As for the project contact person, you must give the IIBA a way to contact the individual in case they wish to audit your application and verify your hours. If a phone number is all you have for the person that should do. It ight be prudent of you to get in contact with the person and get updated contact information that you can put on the application. The easier you make reviewing your application for the IIBA, the quicker it will get approved and less chance it would be audited.

  19. A little terminology can help in clearing up the confusion, the project CONTACT is someone who worked with you on the project and can verify (roughly) your hours and tasks on the project. The 2 REFERENCES must be a client (internal or external), career manager or CBAP recipient who has worked with you, past or present, and knows of your BA work.

    @Vicki, your two references can be 2 internal clients of your BA work. Other project team members, business or technical, are clients of your BA work as they benefited from that work. So yes, prior project team members may serve as a reference for your CBAP application even if you no longer work together. The final statement that they will sign is that they “support your application for BA certification”, so as long as they are familiar with your work and will atest to your BA work experience then they will be good references.

    • Janet Wood says

      Thanks for clarifying, Aaron. I didn’t know that you could use internal clients – it would have made my application a bit easier if I had known.

  20. Janet Wood says

    Viki, you are right about the 2 references. You can get all the details from the IIBA website: – find the CBAP Handbook. My copy (dated Jan 2011) says:
    A career manager is defined by IIBA as the person who is responsible for providing and preparing the applicant’s annual performance review.
    • Project managers cannot be references unless they are also the applicant’s career manager. The reference form must clearly indicate they fill both roles or the reference will not qualify.
    So it looks to me like it’s not going to work just using ex-colleagues.

    It’s only the project references who can be anybody associated with the project. So it does look like you’re going to need to find that career manager. But download the Handbook and check exactly what it says.

  21. @Janet, There is a confusion. As per my understanding total 2 references are required which as per IIBA should be: “Two references from a career manager, client or CBAP® recipient” which means if I provide one reference from client and another from CBAP recipient then it would be sufficient?

    But my issue is that; I want to know what if I provide (total) 2 references of two different x-colleagues of previous company who worked with me in separate projects where my role was BA. That is; no references from client, career manager or CBAP recipient.


  22. Janet Wood says

    @Viki – you can use anybody for your references. For each project, you need to find somebody who can confirm that you did that work at that time, so they could easily be working at somewhere else. You also need 2 actual references from a client, another CBAP or your “Career Manager” – who must be the person responsible for managing and assessing your performance. These references are to confirm that you are a BA. The project references will only be contacted if IIBA decides to audit your application.

    @Ami, you need to list all the hours you have worked. One suggestion I received was to group a set of projects together as one project for the purposes of reporting. In my application I left out times when I was not doing BA work, or where I didn’t have a reference. With your number of hours, you can probably afford to skip a couple of projects. As I said above, IIBA may not contact your references, but you do have to be prepared if they do. If you can find anybody who was working in the same company and knows that you were working on that particular project, that would be sufficient.

    One other point – the 2 BA references will be contacted BEFORE you can submit your completed application and you won’t be allowed to submit until they have replied, so get those details captured first.

    Good luck.

  23. great information. Glad to find this site. I have at least 11,500 hours doing BA work. At least 9,000 of those were individual projects doing elicitation of requirements and TCRs, BRDs, and SDDs, etc… Can anyone tell me if the applicant must list each and every project to account for each of the 7500 hours?

    Also, at least 2 of the companies I’ve worked for in the past has been bought out and at least 1 has gone under. The contacts for each of the projects have long since moved on and the emails I have for them are probably obsolete. What would I do in that case?

    Any input is greatly appreciated. I’m wanting to take this exam really quick coz my current company has just been bought out and will be off-shored, so I need all I can get to help me get another job.


  24. Thanks Aaron for wonderful information. These types of articles are required for people like me who are new and reluctant to attempt CBAP just due to documentation process. But anyhow, your article is good start-up for anyone preparing to apply for CBAP/CCBA cert.

    Regarding references, can we give references of previous company colleagues who have left the company as well?

  25. @Janet – well put! Congratulations on your CBAP!

    @Bob – As Janet said you do not reveal much about the actual project itself on the CBAP/CCBA application. You will have to document a contact person for the organization that you did the work, including contact information. If the IIBA wishes to audit your application, they may contact the project contact person to confirm the information on your application.

    Basically, for each project you will document total hours on the project, BA hours on the project, a high-level short description, a contact person for the project, and checkmark tasks that you performed during the project. As Janet said, they are not all BA tasks, that is why I always recommend documenting more than the 3,750 (CCBA) or 7,500 (CBAP) hours required. Just in case the hours get reduced during review of your application, you will still have enough BA hours to qualify to sit for the certification exam.

  26. Janet Wood says

    I have just recently passed the CBAP® exam, so I am a very new CBAP® and still very excited about passing! One of the things to be careful of in the online application is a little “gotcha” that IIBA® has put in. For each Knowledge Area, there is a list of tasks to tick off to show which ones you have performed. BUT some of these tasks are NOT BA tasks according to the BABOK®. So, be careful that you either don’t tick the non-BA tasks or that you reflect enough hours in each KA to allow for the tasks that will be disallowed. I believe they apply a pro-rata formula to your hours for each non-BA task.

    @Bob – you don’t have to provide much detail about each project so you can easily avoid revealing anything confidential.

    Good luck with the application and the exam.

  27. Bob Savage says

    Thank you very much for writing this. I have no idea how people were able to sit down and write up this type of information. I, personally, have no way to go back and access it, so my plan is to shoot for certification at some point in the future, and to start recording this information from now on. The tip linked to in the comments above is useful, but it really helps to know what I really need to document for my certification.

    My one question, though, is how all of this works with information security policies. I have typically performed my job under NDA. As a result, my policy has always been to keep no information about the projects on which I have worked. Obviously I will have to find a better balance. I’m guessing the trick involves describing the project with enough specificity to remind others of it, while being as vague as possible (to avoid revealing confidential information).

  28. Good start Shireen, keep up the good work! By retrospective project journal I think you are doing what I was going to suggest. Now that you have have a project journal going, try to go back into the past. Use your resume, timesheets, project documents, etc. of the past to build a timeline of projects that you worked on. Then fill in the important information, such as hours and tasks, to those projects. By documenting the past you will not have to wait so long to take the certification exam. If you didn’t leave pages at the beginning of your book so that you could document the past, then change books, or put your project journal in a Word document, electronic form. If you do that make sure you have a good backup procedure in place; you don’t want to loose everything because of a hard drive crash.

    Keep working on that documentation!

  29. Aaron, your comments are so true. I’m guilty of procrastinating. I’ve been wanting to get certified for so long – but the amount of documentation and the lookback that I needed to do seemed insurmountable. What I started doing is a restrospective project journal uisng Adrian Reed’s article as a guide – but also adding the information needed for my application. It’s been a great help. Looking forward to taking my exam.

  30. Priyanka, you are correct, Adrian did write an article on the project journal and it is a great idea!

    Remember that some of the “paper evidence” of the last 10 years of your professional life may not be on paper. You may be holding some of it in electronic file form. Wherever you are holding this evidence, be sure to capture it and sort it so that it can help you document the needed information for your work and knowledge area experience for the IIBA certification application.

    Thank you for your comments Priyanka!

  31. Thanks a lot Aaron , great inputs. Will definitely try to work work on these lines.
    What you mentioned in your last paragraph is absolutely true as it becomes difficult to visit the past and try and remember , collect the proper evidence of your work. But I am sure that also guides us to become more organised. Henceforth, I am thinking of keeping my project journal now which never struck me before. I think Adrian has mentioned about it in one of his articles.Hope It will make my life easy If I need to provide evidences/references after 10 years or so.

    Thanks Again !


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