What’s the Best Business Analysis Certificate to Start a BA Career?

Are you exploring a career in business analysis? Perhaps you are considering one of the many business analysis certificate programs available? Would you like to make an informed decision before investing thousands of dollars in a certificate program?

In what follows, we’ll look at the benefit of certificates from the perspective of a hiring manager and then jump into why the training behind the certificate is so important.

(Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my step-by-step BA career planning course – it’s free – that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career.

How Does a Hiring Manager View a Certificate?

As there are many hiring managers each with their own biases about what makes a great BA job candidate, there is no one answer to this question. But to be honest, I’ve never once heard a hiring manager say “I hired that candidate because they had a certificate!”

It just doesn’t work that way. Instead, here’s how it works from a hiring manager’s perspective.

As Jenni Doyle, a current IT manager who employs business analysts, writes:

Hiring managers want to know what are you going to do to make their organization successful. Read the post on Jenni’s blog.

And later:

The best thing a candidate can do is share how their experience gave them a chance to utilize or learn a transferable skill, and then how that skill can benefit the hiring manager.

Now Jenni was not talking specifically about the value of training or certificates here. But we might consider what Doug Goldberg wrote about the value of certificates in the hiring process.

As someone who routinely reviews resumes and interviews potential candidates, the letters at the end of junior-level candidate’s name represent only one thing: that person can pass a test. I give that person no further benefit in the interview process, because there is no proof that the person can perform in the workplace. Read the entire post.

In the comments Adriana Beal wrote:

Doug, I couldn’t agree more with what you said. It’s important for BAs wondering about certification to focus first on identifying potential weaknesses and ways to overcome them (via training, mentoring, or another solution). The goal has to be to learn important skills that add value to one’s organization over time. Taking a course that adds a depth of knowledge is great; going through the motions just to pass a test and add a certification to one’s resume won’t be of much help.

It’s not just BAs that express this opinion. CIO.com cites Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology, on this topic:

In a highly competitive IT job market, the urge to enhance your résumé in any way possible is understandable. To bolster your qualifications, you may be tempted to earn new certifications—any new certifications. But these credentials carry their full value only when they’re paired with experience. Choose training opportunities and certifications that realistically enhance your ability to help your current or next employer.” See Willmer’s Computerworld article 7 IT Career Rules Worth Breaking (emphasis mine)

So, the answer to this question is that from a hiring manager’s perspective, there is no one “best” certificate to consider. No certificate is going to give you a silver bullet into business analysis. Instead, your path to business analysis will be highly dependent on your career experiences, transferable skills, and current employment situation. This is why the How to Start a BA Career Roadmap has so many path ways through it.

But this doesn’t mean that you won’t want to consider training. It just frees up your options as to what kinds of training you might consider.

Focus on the Training Behind the Certificate

These answers don’t invalidate the value of training. Not at all. They simply mean that the training behind the certificate and what that training enables you to accomplish on-the-job is more important than the certificate itself. Laura Kesner, CBAP, PhD, a recipient of a master’s certificate in business analysis, agrees:

I happen to have both my CBAP and my Master’s Certificate from George Washington University (a partner with ESI). While I had been a BA for many years, I was interested in taking training classes more for learning the standards in business analysis…every company has their own take! I decided to take my courses from the same provider and chose ESI because of their involvement with our local IIBA chapter. I then decided to take a few additional courses to get the Master’s Certificate. The certificate itself has not made a difference in my career, however, I definitely value the training behind the certificate. I’d be interested in getting other people’s perspectives on this since I have been with the same company and don’t know what type of impact this certificate would have on the marketplace. I’m guessing, “Not much!” I strongly believe, in this case, that it is likely the training and experience over the certificate itself. If all things are equal, though, perhaps having a certificate would give you an edge. Posted via a LinkedIn group discussion.

Bridging the Gap reader, also the recipient of a master’s certificate and as aspiring business analysts, seconds this advice:

The Certificate in Business Analyst Fundamentals which I obtained from Boston University Corporate Education Center, Boston, MA allowed me to finally complete the puzzle of a Business Analyst profession. I found proper names and definitions for what I was doing before, while working in various capacities in different industries ( … and enjoying most I should now add). Plus, it helped me to recognize my strengths and weaknesses as a BA: some knowledge areas happened to be pretty well known for me, but some revealed certain potential for further exploration.  Read the comment.

Choose the Training Program That Will Move Your Career Forward

Instead of worrying about the best certificate program, you are welcome to select a training program that fits your schedule, budget, and interests. Focus on what you need to learn, what’s going to help you take a forward step in your career, and how training will move your career forward, and you’ll select a program that guarantees you future BA career success.

If you need help making these decisions, check out my book How to Start a Business Analyst Career – the most comprehensive guide available for creating an actionable plan that helps you start a business analyst career.

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  1. Hi Laura,

    I have some experience as Software tester/Software developer. I want to get a entry level business analyst position. What are the entry level certifications available for business analyst without any prior business analyst experience.
    Can you please help me?


  2. Hi Laura,
    Its so nice of you…you have helped everyone for their career…can u help me too??i just completed my B.tech and joined as an software tester…i do love my area as u did as an tester…..my doubts are 1) i m really focussed and passionate about being an Business Analyst…what methodology i have to follow??? 2)do i need to complete CBAP OR PMP courses so that wll make me efficient??? 3) am i able to be atleast an jr analyst before 3 years so that i will pursue my higher studies in that field??? 4) what steps i have to follow…help me buddy!!!!

  3. Hi Richa,
    In general, the competencies you’ll build as a BA are valued in many contexts so it can be a great stepping stone as part of a long-term career path. I’m not too knowledgeable in the career path to IT marketing, so I can’t comment on the best path into that role. But what I would suggest is that you list out the qualifications and competencies for both roles and look at them side by side. Does BA build competencies you do not have today but are valued by your ideal IT marketing role? If so, it would be wise to view it as part of your transition path. Instead of thinking about discrete roles, focus on individual responsibilities and find opportunities to gain experience in them, regardless of your role.

  4. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your reply. I slowly want to move towards the IT -Marketing role. I feel that geting into a BA role, (which i also have interest in) would be a stepping stone towards that role.
    As for geting out of the IT software industry, i feel that that there is not much career progression as a Tester role. The growth stagnates ,after a few years.
    I also have interest in assignments that involve more of interactions and not just a system job.
    However, would be great if you can advice , as to what career path i can chose, keeping the above interest and growth in mind.
    Am i chosing the right path of geting onto a BA role. Can i then move some years down the line, move on the Marketing function.
    Pls advice.Thanks

  5. Richa,

    Is “BA->pre Sales ->Marketing Function” one role you’d like to fill or do you see that as three separate roles in your career progression? Why do you want to get out of the IT-Software industry and why do you feel like you are constrained in that industry today?

  6. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for the reply. I have one more query , following the one that i raised last time. My career ambition is to gradually get into a BA->pre Sales ->Marketing Function.
    I wish to get out of the IT -Software industry Could you advice me how can I start geting into the above role.

  7. Hi Richa,

    It’s likely you have some transferable experience as a software tester. In fact, that was my role before I became a BA.

    I’d suggest you start by looking for your transferable experiences and strengthen your positioning as a BA. This free email course will help you get started: http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/enewsletter-sign-up/become-a-business-analyst-free-course/ and also joining the early bird list of my forthcoming full-fledged course, will give you access to some great free information (this week only): Launching Your BA Career. http://www.mybusinessanalysiscareer.com/launch-ba-career-early-bird-list/

  8. Hi Laura,

    I am currently working as a Software tester and have nearly 6 years of work experience in the IT Industry.I have done a full time MCA and an MBA from Distance learning.
    I am looking forward to pursue a career in BA and PreSales. Could you guide me , as to how i can enter into this BA role and move ahead on this path.

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