Are you interested in earning your CBAP® but not sure where to get started? CBAP® stands for Certified Business Analysis Professional™ and is the International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) Level 3 certification.
Professionals with a certification in business analysis find themselves in higher demand, more respected, and that it’s easier to get credibility for their business analysis work.
For me, earning my CBAP back in 2011 was about being sure I had all the credibility and authority pieces in place that I needed to offer the highest value training programs, like we do here at Bridging the Gap. And also being sure I earned this certification while I had the recent and necessary amount of experience, before I took some planned time off while I raised my 2 young daughters.
While there is no one path to becoming a CBAP® and the path you take depends heavily on the time you wish to invest, your budget, and your timeline for becoming certified, there are some general phases of preparation that each individual seems to pass through. For some, all of this happens in a week or two with a Boot Camp type class. For others, this process is spread out over a year or two as they use their CBAP® preparation time to become a better business analyst.
And while this post is specific to the CBAP, the same general steps apply if you are looking to earn your CCBA – IIBA’s mid-level certification.
Earning Your CBAP – Step 1: Confirm Your Business Analysis Experience
Applying for the CBAP® requires 5 years (7,500 hours) of business analysis experience, as defined by the BABOK® Guide. You must also demonstrate 900 hours of experience across at least 4 of the 6 knowledge areas.
Many professionals that have been working in a business analyst capacity for a long time, but have not been aware of the BA profession are surprised to learn that they can apply to sit for the CBAP®.
You can read about my experience – through the process of finishing the “dreaded” work history section, I became even more self-aware of yourself as a business analyst professional. I was surprised to find I could document 10,000 BA hours. And, once I got started recounting projects, it was actually difficult to stop.
Documenting your experience, in and of itself, builds confidence.
Many professionals exploring the profession start by researching the CBAP® only to get this step and realize they don’t meet the experience requirements. Instead, you may want to consider the IIBA® Certification of Competency in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) (Level 2 certification) or Entry Level Certificate in Business Analysis™ (ECBA™) (Level 1 Certificate).
If you are looking to start a business analyst career, there are alternative paths you can follow that do not involve certification. I outline many of them in my free career training on how to kickstart your BA career.
Earning Your CBAP – Step 2: Earn Appropriate Professional Development Hours (PDs)
To submit your CBAP® application, you must have 35 documented professional development hours. In general, you’ll need to choose a business analysis training course to earn professional development credits.
Bridging the Gap is an IIBA® Endorsed Education Provider™ (EEP™) and The Business Analyst Blueprint certification program, where you can earn your Applied Certification in Business Analysis, also qualifies for the PDs you need to apply for your CBAP.
We often receive questions about how to earn these credits for free. Because of the instructor engagement requirements for PDs, it’s unlikely that you’ll find free professional development units.
Earn Your CBAP – Step 3: Prepare and Submit Your CBAP® Application
Applications are submitted to IIBA® and they have a full page on their website listing the entire CBAP® certification process. In addition to work experience and professional development hours, you must provide meet the minimum education requirement (high school or equivalent) and have two references.
Earning Your CBAP – Step 4: Become Intimately Familiar with the BABOK® Guide 3.0
Becoming a CBAP® represents that you are a senior business analyst professional, as IIBA® defines it through A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide). That means preparing for the CBAP® requires you understanding the content of the BABOK® Guide and are able to pass an exam demonstrating your knowledge and application of the material.
The BABOK® Guide is a dense text. It’s likely that several readings will be required to fully appreciate the information contained within it.
Many business analysts report enhanced experience at this stage from joining a BABOK® Guide study group. Study groups can be informal, and focused mostly on reading and discussing the BABOK® Guide contents, or more formal, and focused on exam preparation. Study groups can be hosted by an employer, an IIBA® chapter, or anyone who wishes to coordinate one.
Another great resource here is to use exam simulators to test your knowledge and ability to answer the kinds of questions you’ll need to answer on the exam.
Personally, in addition to practically rewriting out the BABOK® Guide to assimilate the knowledge and terminology, I found CBAP® exam simulators to be a critical piece of my preparation. In week 3 of my journey, I share my first brush with exam simulations. By week 9, I became frustrated with exam simulators, but after passing the exam, I realized the simulators I used helped me prepare for the more, shall we say, counter-intuitive aspects of the CBAP® exam.
Earn Your CBAP – Step 5: Schedule and Pass Your CBAP® Exam
Once your application is approved, schedule an exam for 2-3 months out. You can always reschedule the exam or, if you take the exam and do not pass, you can schedule to take it again within one calendar year of your application approval. Scheduling an exam promptly helps keep you motivated through the home stretch.
In week 8 of my journey, I scheduled the CBAP® exam for about 1 month out, the week after I finished my CBAP® prep course. (I had dove right into step 7 after submitting my application and so had a running head start.)
Sit for the exam and do your best. If you do not pass the exam the first time, you can schedule a second exam within one calendar year of your application approval.
Take a few days and celebrate your success. You’ve earned it! Stay involved in the profession and in your own professional development. We are grateful to have you serving our profession.
We build our profession one business analyst at a time, and success starts with you.
About The Business Analyst Blueprint®
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll learn all 12 of the industry-standard techniques and the business analysis process framework – to build your confidence in the best practices of business analysis.
You’ll create validated work samples and be a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).