5 Steps to Becoming a CBAP

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.

cement steps with tiles
Prepare for the CBAP, one step at a time.

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.

Click here to learn more about the free BA career training.

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).

Click here for more information about The Blueprint <<

28 thoughts on “5 Steps to Becoming a CBAP”


    Hi Friends ,

    I thought that i would share my experience on business analysis and and how i became a CBAP . I was working on marketing roles and suddenly my company moved me to IT department as domain consultant to implement SAP ERP. My job was to understand business requirements and translate them into IT solutions . I found that there were large gaps when projects where implemented from what was asked for . Some times the requirements where not clear , sometimes it was poorly translated . All this had high impact on the IT solution and the business. I heard about IIBA in 2009 and wanted to know more , there where hardly anyone to guide . I had almost 7 years BA experience by this tinme .I joined the IIBA site as a member and toyed the idea of taking the CBAP , I went for a BA session , then took the copy of the BABOK , I could not get the whole essence in 2 to 3 readings , It took more than 2.5 months to master this . I used BABOK and Suzan weeze , In the end I brought Watermark Q bank , they where tough , practicing on this ensured that i mastered each area well , When I took the exam on Oct 16 I was sure that I would score well , As expected the I qualified , and now I am CBAP and am imparting training on business analysis

  2. Hello Thirtha Prasad,
    First and foremost in-order to be eligible for CBAP do you have the valid no. of hours as prescribed by CBAP Application?? If not apply for CCBA, get the certification and recertify the same. Once you have the confidence and the valid no. of hours for CBAP then you can apply for. Yes you with the first BA to have both the certifications cleared 🙂 And the other great armour for you is after CCBA/CBAP even to CSPO. This would ensure that you create a benchmark among the BA’s in the world. All the best mate..Do let me know if you need any more info. Infact nobody is better than Laura 😀

  3. Thirtha Prasad

    Hi Laura and Frausch,

    I have 4 years of BA experiance. Whether should i go for CCBA or will wait for one more year to do the CBAP. which one is the best option.

    Please suggest.

  4. Hi Laura and Frausch

    The CBAP HAS helped with my job search, but not quite in the way that Frausch meant. I have always wanted to become an independent consultant and move into training and mentoring. Getting the CBAP gave me the confidence to take that step. I have been marketing myself for about a month and have several opportunities to investigate – at least one of them is directly because I have the CBAP certification – training companies like to be able to state that their BA courses are given by CBAPs, as it increases their credibility. No single thing will ever be enough to get you a job by itself, but I have found that the CBAP is another thing to help you on that path.

    Frausch, I have to reply to your comment that the BABOK “knowledge in its entirety is hardly ever used in the context of actual projects”. Not all BA activities will be performed in all projects and some are not often performed in a project at all (Enterprise Analysis is often outside of the project space and so is some of the Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring). That doesn’t make that information less valuable – I think that those 2 KAs are the basis for the more senior BA roles.

  5. Hi everyone,
    So much about the good aspects of becoming a CBAP and dreaming about landing a great BA job, I wonder why there are no success stories about the actual help that a CBAP certification provided in landing a relevant BA job.
    I believe, that CBAP certification is not so successful after all. After going through the BABOK, I realized the reason for that. The BABOK is so verbosely written, that a normal aspiring BA just ends up cramming a lot of text book information necessary for “passing” CBAP. But beware this knowledge in its entirety is hardly ever used in the context of actual projects. This is the reason why CBAP is not so popular with the recruiters, and has not made any foray in the past 3-4 years of its existence.


    1. Hi Frausch,
      I would agree that the CBAP is not going to land you a BA job, especially if you are pursuing your first BA job (in which case it’s not relevant because there are also the experience requirements to meet). I often recommend aspiring BAs choose other texts to wrap their arms around business analysis before trying to conquer the BABOK, which I agree is dense and difficult to consume until you have a good understanding of the profession.

      As for alternatives, you might check out my book, How to Start a BA Career:

      Software Requirements Memory Jogger or Seven Steps to Mastering Business Analysis or Steve Blais’ new book, Business Analysis: Best Practices for Success are also good reads.

  6. syed saleemuddin

    Dear laura,
    pls update me
    I am working with private life insurance as a Branch manager i have more than 5yrs of experience in single insurance company in sales,
    will you suggest me to go for Business analyst course and apply for jobs in BA career.
    i have done my BE and campusa placed in the company.
    pls suggest !


  7. Hi Katie,
    Thanks for the feedback. That might be the case but you’ll want to do some due diligence aligning your work experience with the BA knowledge areas and pay careful attention to the tasks you select when filling out the work experience section. Linda’s work experience tool can be helpful here.

  8. Katie Metcalfe

    Thanks Laura. Very valuable information I can use for the CBAP exam. I am hoping that all my time spent training and testing software will still allow me to qualify for the exam.

  9. Hello Ranjan,

    In order for the training to count, it must be related to business analysis or its underlying competencies as defined in the BABOK 2.0. Also, if the education provider and the course is endorsed by IIBA, then you will automatically receive the PDs.

    I hope this helps


  10. Hi Laura-

    Thanks for this super awesome and useful post. I am applying for CBAP this year( I completed my 5 years last month and i am excited about it). I have one question:

    I attended a 2 day workshop on six sigma in my previous organization, will that count for my PDs?


  11. Allison Crossley

    Hi Laura, I have recently been placed in the position of Analyst, but with limited experience. I found this article very informative and so far I have acquired the BABOK and on my path to discovery


  12. Hi Brian. Thanks for that — makes good sense and also good to know that prior courses outside of formal BA can be relevant for your PDs. Many people I talk to are trying to find ways to earn PDs in an affordable way, so that is something to definitely keep in mind. Many CBAPs note that a spreadsheet of sorts is helpful.

  13. Hi Laura

    I’ve done a number of courses over the last few years including Six Sigma Black Belt and a few online courses. I listed the courses and the hours on a spreadsheet. I’ll have to dig out my application form and post some examples.

    I found mnemonics and mind maps worked well – there’s a set of mind maps on my website brianhunt.co.uk – click on the CBAP tab to see them.

  14. Thanks for sharing your story Brian. I would think that an exam simulator is a great way to prepare for the exam. I expect I’ll likely use flash cards or some other tool to support the memorization process.

    Your story doesn’t share how you earned CDUs or documented your experience. Any tips from that front?


  15. My own experience of studying for and passing the exam is on my blog at http://cbap.posterous.com/ It took me around six weeks and I took the self study route. If you use good study technique and an effective exam simulator (do shop around for these – some of them are a waste of money) you have a very good chance of passing

  16. Building on what Linda said about the “what if” scenarios…
    There are some things you can control and others you can’t. You can control how much you prepare but the incentive to stay with it is definitely there after you’ve shelled out the money and scheduled a date.

    Some things you can not control – traffic, other people, weather.
    I was on my way to the exam, stopped at a red light when I was suddenly hit from behind. I wasn’t badly injured and the car was only somewhat damaged – I went on to sit for the exam 1/2 mile up the road 30 minutes later. Sure I had some doubts as I took the exam but I also had periods where I was really confident. I passed.

    The only real point of the story was to say that if you have the experience to qualify and prepare using the BABOK, you CAN pass it.

  17. Michelle Swoboda

    This is my next step and I cannot wait. I know it won’t be easy but I look forward to the challenge!

  18. Great article Laura!

    I also want to emphasize what you wrote on step 6: Schedule your CBAP exam. This is a very important step as it not only help you stay motivated but it also allows you to avoid any extra expenses.
    Not that you will not pass on the first try, but as BA, we always want to think of the what-if scenarios and you must think of what happens if you do not pass on the first try. You only have one year from the date you are approved to pass the CBAP, otherwise you must go through the application process again.
    I’ve talked to few BA who did not pass the CBAP on the first or second try. I am not trying to scare anyone, however this scenario can happen. In order to avoid the extra expenses, early scheduling is a critical step. As Laura points out, you will remain motivated and most likely you will study with more urgency and determination.
    Within your eligibility period (1 year), you have two chances at passing the CBAP exam; if you do not pass the first time, you must wait 3 months prior to sitting for the exam again.
    So if you schedule your exam 9 months after you’ve been approved and do not pass, you will not be allowed to take the exam a second time. You will have to go through the entire application over again. However, if you take the exam on the 3 – 6 months after application approval, and do not pass, you have another 6 months to prepare and sit for it again without having to re-apply.
    The moral of the story is that the earlier you schedule and take your exam, the more chances you have at staying motivated and decreasing the number of time you have pay for application fees.
    Application fee is $125
    Exam fee is $325 for IIBA members and $450 for non-IIBA members

  19. Thanks, Aaron. I appreciate your positive feedback — that means a lot coming from you, as an extremely well-informed CBAP.

    I’m hoping this process remains true for the CCBA as well and I suspect it generally will. But I am hoping to interview a few of the first CCBA’s to discover any variations. Can’t do that until 2011! 🙂


  20. Very good and informative article Laura. I like how you pulled together the perspectives of many who have traveled the road and then added your own perspective to it. You added a lot of background information such as my article on “the awakening” and a few others about how to prepare for the CBAP. This shows how much you keep abreast of the the BA reference material (blogs and articles) that is available out there on the web. Now if anyone asks “how do I go about getting the CBAP or CCBA?”, we have one central place to point them.

    Very nice job on the article Laura, I give you my standing ovation!

  21. Pingback: Tweets that mention 8 Steps to becoming a CBAP -- Topsy.com

Sign up for weekly updates and access to the FREE Quick Start to Success workshop:

Before you go, would you like to receive our absolutely FREE workshop?

(No formal experience required.)

Laura Brandenburg

Quick Start to Success
as a Business Analyst

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Scroll to Top