What’s the Difference Between the QAI’s CSBA and IIBA’s CBAP and CCBA Certifications?

Reader’s question: “Are the two certifications (CABA and CSBA) administrated by QAI Global Institute comparable to the two certifications (CCBATM and CBAP®) administrated by the IIBA®?”

Aaron’s reply:

I was actually asked about these QAI certifications a couple months ago in LinkedIn.  Prior to that, I had never heard of the QAI, CABA or CSBA.  A quick review of the QAI website prompted a negative review from me.  However, since this is Bridging-the-Gap and we are helping BAs across the globe, let’s take a deeper look into QAI and compare their program to the IIBA program.

A Review of the QAI Website

Not all certifications are equal. Weigh each one to see which is right for you.

At quick glance it is very hard to find out anything about QAI from their website.  I remember a couple months ago the only thing I found out is QAI is in Orlando, FL USA.  Now, taking a deeper look at their website I see that QAI has actually been in existence longer than IIBA.  Their website states that they got their start in 1980 and launched their first certification in 1990.

In their “Fast Facts” they profess to have 40,000+ certified IT professionals, 135 countries on 6 continents and 3000 test centers; on their certification overview page they profess to have 10,000+ certified IT professionals and list 18 countries.  They also list 4000+ at TCS, 4400+ at InfoSys and 2100+ at Accenture.  If they truly do have 10,000+ total certified IT professionals, then they are all within these three companies.  I think it is easy to understand why three of the top international IT consulting firms would want to certify their consultants.  Other than these “Fun Facts” and inconsistencies, you really can’t find out anything about QAI at all.

A Review of the IIBA Website

Now take a tour of the IIBA website.  Very quickly you can learn the history of the organization.  You can see bios and pictures of their Board of Directors and Senior Leadership Team.  You can find a wealth of information about Business Analysis.  If you are a member of the IIBA you can get a copy of their Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®).  If you are not a member it is still available for a nominal fee.  You can find Communities, Webinars, Newsletters, Articles, Blogs from the Senior Leadership Team, an Online Library of over 300 books on business analysis and a Career Center.  You can find out that the IIBA was formed in 2003 and launched the CBAP certification in 2006, just three years later.  They launched the CCBA certification just a couple months ago.  Even though there are only 1,200+ CBAPs around the world, compared to 10,000+ QAI certified individuals, it appears there are more companies represented by CBAPs than CSBAs.

Comparing IIBA and QAI

Two things become glaringly clear upon this review:

First, IIBA is all about Business Analysis and nothing else.  They are about advancing and supporting Business Analysis as a profession.  Whereas, QAI offers certification in Software Quality, Testing, Project Management, Business Analysis and Process Engineering.  However, all these certifications are very heavily linked to quality software production.  After all, they are the Quality Assurance Institute.

Secondly, QAI was setup to administer these certifications.  It appears to be their only source of revenue.  They have no supporting community and no wealth of information for community members on their website.  You can get a copy of their Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) only after you have applied for one of their certifications, including paying the $350 (USD) application fee.  The IIBA offers membership, has chapters, offers certifications, and supports their community.  They have multiple streams of revenue; certification is just one of them.  IIBA also professes to be for both the Business Analyst that does not work in Information Technology or Software Development and the Business Analyst that does.

So the conclusion you may draw from this analysis is that if you are a Quality Assurance professional in the software development role, then the QAI certifications may serve your career better.  If you work in any other capacity, the IIBA certifications will serve you better.  That answers the original question: “Are they comparable?”….the answer would be “No”.  However, realize that they are not mutually exclusive.

Nobody said that you can’t be a CBAP and a CSBA.

>>Interested in Learning More About the CBAP?

If you’d like to go for the CBAP or CCBA certification, Laura has that walks you through 8 Steps to Becoming a CBAP article that lays out the general process and qualifications.

Click here to learn more about the CBAP

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  1. Meenu Garg says

    Hi…I really liked the conversation..its going hot !!

    I am interested in Business Analysis and want to go for certification. However, I am from Operations background and have a total experience of 4-5 years in Operations only. I am little bit confused that which education provider should i Opt, QAI or IIBA. I would be grateful if anybody could advise me.


    • Meenu,

      The QAI certificates are only as good as the QAI name is. It is from a education provider, so it is not a true certification, it is a certificate of completing their courses. IIBA certifications have accepted worldwide acceptance and is growing in that acceptance. As for your Operations experience, the experience that qualifies for IIBA certification is not about what your job title is/was, but what tasks you perform in your job duties. If those tasks are aligned with the BABOK, they qualify for IIBA certification.

      Best wishes to you!

      • Meenu Goyal says

        Thanks so much Aaron!
        However, my current job profile is not as per BABOK standards. Could you please advise now what should I do in direction of Business Analysis.

        Your advice will really help me alot.

        Being in India, not sure whether this QAI cerification will be helpful or not.

    • Meenu,
      If you wish to move to job duties more in line with Business Analyst you can find duties within your current role that are aligned with the BABOK and specialize in performing those tasks. You could ask your manager to transfer to the Business Analyst group within your organization; or you could move outside of your current organization.

      Not being in India and not an expert on QAI, I cannot advice as to the value of the QAI certificate. I can tell you India is one of the fastest growing areas for IIBA certifications right now.


  2. Minnie Naveen says

    My Geo Location is Mumbai, India. I developed interested for a Business Analyst role when one of Manager nominated me for testing of a new system acquired for the Organisation ( Life Insurance Company – MetLife India). I am currently with Tata AIG General Insurance Co Ltd. in Process Delivery and Qualtiy team since 2008 September till date. My current role involves requirement gathering, preparing Business requirement documents and preparing test plans, test cases, explaining the requirement to the IT vendors (multiple vendors), testing, arranging for sign off, Communicating to all the related stakeholders on the enhancement status,managing change request,training the respective team once the development hits the production floor and hand holding them till the team is comfortable.

    My Querry
    1. Do I Qualitfy for CBAP Certification ( total BA experiance would be around 5-7 years)
    2. If yes while application filling for CBAP can I include the testing hours, test case and test plan preparation hours.
    3. I was also invloved in helping the organisation (ING Vysya Life Insurance Co. Ltd.) get ISO 9001:2000 certification. This involved requirement gathering, preparing process documentation, process flows and taking sign off across departements. Can these hours also be considered in BA role.

    Your inputs would be highly appreciated

    Thanking you in advance.

    Best Wishes
    Minnie Naveen

    • Minnie,
      1. It certainly looks like you may qualify for the CBAP certification. If you should fall short of the 7,500 hours of BA experience or the knowledge area requirement for the CBAP, the CCBA certification is available for those that fall short of the CBAP requirements. It is targeted for intermediate level BAs.
      2. You may not include performing testing activities in your BA work experience hours; however, you may include developing test plans and test cases in your work experience toward certification.
      3. Hours for requirements gathering, documenting findings, process flows are all BA tasks, so yes some of the hours you spent on the ISO 9001:2000 certification project are applicable toward certification.

      Best wishes to you!

  3. Paritosh, my views are based on an analysis of their website. I do not personally know anyone who has the QAI certifications. When it comes to certifications, the best to have would be one that is backed by a certifying body that is not the sole education provider for their certification. So it is more than just an education provider “certificate”. As Kevin said, a certification body that adheres to ISO 17024 standards. I will also add that India is one of the fastest growing area for both the CBAP and CCBA certifications.

  4. Loved the interaction on this post. While looking at choices for my nephew, I recently got to know about QAI and other similar institutions offering both ILT and online certifications.

    My geo-location is India and hence I preferred to know about a solid and trusted certifications provider. It would be great help if you could help me know if there is any interaction that you have had with folks who have gotten trained at QAI OR are these views based only on the website?

    Basing a career decision on a corporate website aint my choice and hence I would like to research better! Thanks in advance!

  5. Varun Sood says

    Dear Stefan,

    I have not heard about IREB earlier.. Can you please let me know how this scores better than other BA certifications?

    I am also curious to know what about QAI’s website gives off the impression that it is a fake?

  6. Hi!
    Would be nice to see such a comparison to IREB as well. Looking at the QAI website I’ve got the same feeling as Aaron and Kevin, it seems to be a big fake. With IREB it is different (caution, I’m from IREB!) IREB was founded 2007 and until autumn 2012 they have nearly 10.000 certified in 34 countries. For details about IREB see http://www.ireb.org or read my blog which covers some of the most important facts http://tinyurl.com/CPREtheIREBway
    Cheers Stefan

  7. While certifications can help you stand out, you need to get the education/experience (volunteer if nothing else) that makes you at least a skilled beginner BA before any kind of certification can help. I also make a distinction between a “certification” and a “certificate”. So far, a certificate, appears to be the “diploma” for passing a curriculum of course work.

    Tom M.

  8. For what is worth, the QAI offers an “entry-level” Business Analyst certification (if memory serves me correctly). The IIBA doesn’t.

    Here are 2 other “entry-level” (or higher) alternatives: http://www.brainbench.com offers an I.T. Business Analyst certification based strictly on passing their tests. If you go the brainbench route I recommend taking an annual subscription. Its cheaper.

    The Project Management Institute offers a CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) which requires something like 27 clock hours of training and passing a pretty hard test. Part of the knowledge you have to master to pass the test applies to being a BA. You do not have to join the PMI to get the CAPM.

  9. Kevin,

    Thank you for that clarification. That, in fact, makes the QAI certifications comparable to the PM Centers USA Master Certificate in Business Analysis, the International Institute for Learning (IIL) Business Analysis Certificate Program or ESI International Master Certificate in Business Analysis. One big difference is that QAI is closely aligned to Software Requirements and Quality Assurance; whereas PM Center USA, IIL and ESI are more broad to cover more of the Business Analysis profession. All of these certificates are only as good as the education provider’s reputation that provides them. If you want a certification backed by a professional association instead of an education provider, then IIBA is the way to go.

  10. Hi Aaron,

    My bias in this is pretty obvious, but QAI is actually a for-profit consulting and training company (here’s their main site: http://www.qaiglobalinstitute.com/), and is the sole provider of training courses for their own certification program. IIBA is a non-profit professional association owned by and responsible to its members and to the business analysis community, and adheres to the requirements for certifying bodies set out in ISO 17024.

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