Editor’s Note: Ann Pani is a seasoned expert and practitioner of Business Analysis and CBAP, having co-founded a leading organization in BA training and certification (e.g. CBAP, CPRE, ECBA, BABoK, ISO, etc.) called Adaptive US Inc. His firm is also an author on Flevy, where you can find hundreds of BA training materials (e.g. certification training, question banks, templates, etc.). View all their materials here.
* * * *
CBAP certification is undoubtedly the most coveted designation globally among the Business analysts.
Even though work experience is one of the requirements of CBAP® as a prerequisite, the CBAP® examination needs you to have excellent practical knowledge of the business analysis concepts and the ability to relate BABOK® knowledge to practical scenarios/cases.
We have come across many CBAP certification myths and misconceptions while interacting with BA professionals. Here are the top 10 CBAP Certification Myths.
However, there are many myths associated with CBAP certification. Some of the most common CBAP Certification Myths are as given below:
- I can’t appear for CBAP® as I had a career break.
This is far from the truth. CBAP® examination does not bother about any career break that you had. It requires you to have 7500 hours of business analysis experience in the last 10 years. As long as you meet the criteria prescribed by IIBA®, that’s more than enough for you to go for the examination. So do not worry if you had a career break in your work history.
- I need my official designation as business analyst to prepare for CBAP®.
One of the most common CBAP Certification myths – I am not called as Business analyst in my organization , can I still pursue CBAP.
The requirement from IIBA® is to have experience regarding business analysis, not necessarily have the designation of Business Analyst. Even if you are officially designated as systems analyst, or project manager, Implementation consultant, Domain SME, Business consultant or something else, as long as you are dealing with the tasks mentioned in BABoK® (which are primarily related to requirements engineering, requirements management, requirements analysis and strategy analysis), you are perfectly fine to go for CBAP®.
- I need to by-heart BABoK®.
This is an interesting myth. Unfortunately some training organizations also promote this kind of mindset where they expect one to remember BABoK® by heart. There is NO need for you to by heart BABoK®. What you need to understand are the concepts in BABoK®, a general flow for business analysis work, techniques and how the techniques relate to the work, and apply BABoK® concepts to a business analysis situation. So cheer up – no more frightening thoughts of by hearting BABoK®.
- I will lose money if my application is not approved.
Your application will not be processed until it is completely acceptable to IIBA®. So there is no way that one would lose money when applying for the examination. This was the situation when the old certification scheme was there. Stay confident that unless and until you provide all the details that you IIBA® expects you to provide, your application is not going to go to the stage where can pay the application review fees.
- I can’t appear for CBAP as currently I am not in a job.
Again one of the most common CBAP Certification myths is that one should be in a job to apply for CBAP®. As I already mentioned before, there is no such expectation from IIBA® that one has to be in a job to be a CBAP®. In fact achieving the CBAP certification, when you are not in a job or even on a break can actually help you to get back into a BA role than not having the certificate.
- I need my employer’s experience letter to take up CBAP®.
Again IIBA® has no expectation that one would produce any experience letter from the employer. What you need to make sure is that you are in touch with your past project managers or clients who can serve as a reference for your BA experience.
- I need to complete lower level certifications to go for CBAP®.
There is no need for one to complete ECBATM and CCBA® to go for CBAP®. One can go directly for CBAP® as long as one meets the criteria mentioned by IIBA®.
- CBAP is a cakewalk examination as I already have 15+ years’ experience as BA.
This is again another kind of situations where people with 15 to 20 years of experience feel that they can pass CBAP® easily since they have a good number of years of experience as a BA. A good knowledge of BABoK® and the exam pattern is highly essential to complete CBAP®.
- Technical software knowledge is a pre-requisite to go through CBAP®.
The only area one would encounter software knowledge in BABoK® is part of RAD KA. One will be able to learn software modeling concepts if one spends about 20 hours of effort.
- I need to be a graduate to qualify to appear for CBAP.
There is no educational requirement in the eligibility criteria for CBAP.
- Finally, as a bonus myth and the greatest CBAP certification myth, CBAP is useless and only real BA knowledge counts.
This is indeed true for people who have no further career ambitions, and are completely happy with their current employer and do not see any value with personal branding. If you happen to be part of such a group, then there is no need for you to really spend time and effort in going for CBAP®.
CBAP® certification can indeed add significant value to your BA knowledge and career prospects.
Some of the common questions that I have encountered and my take on them are:
- As a business analyst, what do you think about the CBAP certificate? Is it a waste of time?
We have worked with 200+ CBAP professionals and have seen them transforming to better roles, transitioning to global opportunities, better salaries.
As per the latest salary survey of IIBA:
- CBAP Certified Professionals earn 16% more
- There is a 11% increment in salary for certification holders than the overall average salary
- The expected salary increase is in the range of 15 -20%
There has been a gradual shift towards recruiting certified business analysts globally. More and more organizations rely on this independent assessment of skills while recruiting.
Especially for experienced working professionals looking to switch into BA role, If you were previously working in IT , your technical software knowledge would definitely come in handy.
The median salary of a CBAP’s is in the range of $90–92,000 and IIBA asserts that certified CBAP’s earn around 15% more than non-certified Business Analysts.
Benefits of certification:
- Be globally recognized for your competency in business analysis.
- Better job prospects.
- Better salary.
- Better career growth
- Opens door to global career opportunities and fortune 500 organizations
- Better skilled in BA domain
- How do I prepare and enroll for CBAP certification?
Once you have decided to pursue CBAP certification based on your career goals, the first thing would be to check the eligibility criteria mentioned by IIBA.
Secondly, undergo proper training from an established BA trainer before registering and selecting a convenient slot to appear the exam.
Without training, clearing the exam in the very first attempt would be a horrendous task, simply because what you get to grasp in 30 hours of BA coaching would otherwise require 150 hours of self-learning to decode the BABoK, the prescribed book for BA certification exams.
Moreover, BA coaching under an EEP (Endorsed Education Provider) gives you the necessary (Professional Development Units) necessary to meet the criteria of the various certifications.
- Which is the best business analyst certification, PMI-PBA or CBAP?
In terms of popularity and acceptance I would certainly say CBAP is best for a business analyst.
CBAP certification from IIBA has been hugely popular among corporate and individuals across the globe.
Whereas PMI PBA has some following in USA owing to the fact that it comes from PMI and it has the largest no. of certification holders for its most popular certification PMP.
However coming to numbers –
- As of Feb,2018, IIBA declares 9000+ CBAP certified professionals.
- While PMI reports 2020 PMI PBA certified professionals as of 31 Dec 2017.
But I would suggest to go for CBAP if you are considering both as alternatives.
Here’s a detailed analysis document on the comparison between PMI PBA and CBAP, which I had written some time back:
This article compares both the certification on each parameter and gives a beautiful perspective for you to get a comparison.
- Pure play BA/enterprise level BA and planning to stay in the same path
- Part of BA Center of Excellence/BA Competency team
- If your organization has IIBA certifications as part of the competency framework
PMI PBA Recommended:
- BA with a project or program management background/experience
- BA with PMP certification
- PMP certified professional /Project manager with BA responsibility
- If your organization has partnership with PMI
- If your organization has PMI certifications as part of the competency framework
- How many hours of study is required for clearing CBAP?
About 150/200 hours of study is good enough to prepare for CBAP v3 and get certified.
But this is mostly true when you take the help of a great coach , with a good understanding of BABoK and with access to a good question bank.
- Is it worth taking an IIBA membership?
If you are a BA and serious about BA career then it is definitely yes.
You get the membership fee paid back with the exam fees discount for members, so in effect you get all the resources free.
The membership comes loaded with whole lot of resources like books, online library, articles, white papers, webinars for members only.
The learning from all this is immense , if you see yourself in a product owner, Product line head, Business unit head or a domain expert role 10 years down the line.
- How will IIBA verify if I really worked for 7,500 hours for taking the CBAP certification?
IIBA does the checking of work experience through an application filing and approval process. This process is done via the project details provided and references provided.
IIBA reserves the right to audit your application.
Any discrepancies found can result in barring you from appearing for the exam or revocation of the certificate later part as well.
- Is the CBAP certification useful for business analysts working in Agile methodology?
The new curriculum of BABoK V3 includes a major component of agile methodology in the curriculum for CBAP certification.
BABoK is a good framework for all types of Business Analysts, since it covers all the aspects of Business analysis starting from Planning to solution evaluation and strategy analysis.
Hence its always worth taking up certifications like CBAP considering the professional growth and compensation improvement.
- What is the complexity of CBAP certification?
It is reasonably complex and requires very in depth understanding of concepts to clear the exam
Mostly the answers are close, confusing and expect it to be completely aligned to BABoK.
- How do I know that I am prepared enough for sitting for the exam
When you have gone through BABoK 2/3 times, understand the concepts well, and the relationships between them, which makes the study part mostly through. After this you have to move over to verifying your understanding with questions. Take a good CBAP question bank and start with KA/chapter based questions first. Once you score about 80/85% move over to the exam simulator and aim for 80/85% on that as well.
- What is the pass percentage of CBAP?
The pass percentage for CBAP is not disclosed however if you take a good CBAP simulation set and target for 80/85% then you will be safe and will be likely to clear the test.