Which business analysis certification?
Looking for a business analyst job? You may have noticed business analysis qualifications are needed for such roles. But which certificate should you go for? And how do you achieve such certification? This article explores three business analysis accreditation bodies and the certificates they offer from beginner to expert. You’ll become a qualified business analyst in no time!
It cannot be denied that knowledge and experience are two essential factors for any professional in the business world. To succeed in any type of business field, learning its basics will enhance your understanding and equip you with the necessary tools to succeed.
Business analysis is an important function in companies nowadays, as it helps stakeholders decide the right business solutions for their organisation. As business analysis is so crucial, companies will ensure they recruit business analysts with the appropriate experience and accredited qualifications.
You can study business analysis and gain a professional certification with any of these three accreditation bodies:
- BCS (The Charted Institute of IT)
- APMG International
- IIBA® (The International Institute of Business Analysis)
We will now explain what each of these institutions offer and the differences between them.
BCS (The Chartered Institute of IT)
In 1957, the London Computer Group merged with an association of scientists to become the British Computer Society Ltd. In 1989, BCS became a chartered engineering institution and in 2009 it became BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT to adapt to the changing world of IT and improve what it can offer its members. 
BCS offers business analysis certifications from foundation level to expert and each level is mapped according to the SFIAplus industry-standard framework.
You start with the Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis course, which is aimed at delegates who want to understand the basics of business analysis. Hence, there are no entry pre-requisites for this certification.
The syllabus contains subjects that explain the definition of business analysis, the competencies of a business analyst, the business analysis process model, stakeholder analysis and management, making a business and financial case, establishing the requirements, delivering the business solution, and much more. The exam is 40 multiple choice questions for one hour and the pass mark is 26/40 (65%).
Passed the Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis and want to show that you can apply all the theories you studied in practice? Go for the Practitioner Certificate in Business Analysis Practice course. The syllabus explores how to develop a business strategy, how to explore a business issue, and how to apply business analysis techniques. The exam is a one-hour scenario-based written examination and the pass mark is 25/50 (50%).
If you want to take your learning further and take the International Diploma in Business Analysis, you need to sit a 50-minute oral examination and pass four modules (or gain four certificates):
- A knowledge-based module, and that can be Business Analysis Foundation
- Two core modules which are Business Analysis Practice and Requirements Engineering
- A practitioner module, which could be for example Modelling Business Processes
This is for professionals who want to demonstrate they have a detailed understanding of business analysis best practice.
There are 8 professional modules that you can choose to study if you want to carry on and gain the Advanced International Diploma in Business Analysis:
A. Analytical skills specialisms:
- Business Architecture
- Advanced Requirements Engineering
- Data Analysis
- Agile Business Analysis
B. Business skills specialisms:
- Business Finance
- Benefits Planning and Realisation
C. People Skill Specialisms:
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Team Leadership
You would be eligible to be awarded an Advanced International Diploma in Business Analysis if you:
- Have a minimum of five years’ experience in business analysis
- Contribute to the BA community
- Pass an oral exam and,
- Complete four professional level certifications from the following:
- One analytical skills specialism
- One business skills specialism
- One people skill specialism
- In addition to one analytical or business skills specialism of your choice
This is for senior business analysts and it recognises business analysis experience and expertise.
After that, if you want recognition of your high skills and expertise from BCS, you can go through a formal assessment, project assignment and interview to be awarded the highest level in business analysis - the Expert BA Award. This award validates a candidate’s ability to conduct complex business analysis activities, engage with senior stakeholders and improve the organisation at a strategic level. 
APMG International has a diverse portfolio of certification schemes including internationally renowned solutions for project, business and IT management, and cybersecurity. 
It has a unique certification called AgileBA® and its aim is to develop a candidate’s skills to become an agile business analyst. Since agile methods are becoming popular in executing projects nowadays, APMG International (in collaboration with Agile Business Consortium) has developed a qualification that blends agile practices with business analysis.
The right candidate for this qualification is someone currently working as a business analyst, change analyst, project manager, or agile developer.
AgileBA® will certify your ability to manage your role in an agile project delivery and use the tools of business analysis in an agile way. APMG International offer AgileBA® as a foundation and practitioner course.
You will learn about agile and its processes, principles and practices in addition to roles and responsibilities within an agile project. The exam is 50 multiple choice questions for 40 minutes and the pass mark is 25/50 (50%)
After you pass the foundation course, you will be eligible to sit the practitioner exam. This is recommended if you really want to boost your CV as an agile business analyst. The DSDM Agile Project Framework is studied and you’ll learn how to put agile methods into practice, such as MoSCoW Prioritisation. The exam is 4 complex multiple-choice questions worth 20 marks each for 2.5 hours and the pass mark is 40/80 (50%).
IIBA® (The International Institute of Business Analysis)
In 2004, IIBA® went from being a working group with a name, to a formal organisation in Toronto, Canada. In 2005, they published “A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide)” and the Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®) designation. Now, they have become one of the leading associations for the business analysis profession. 
Like BCS, IIBA® has certification levels to support a business analyst’s career path from an entry level up to an advanced degree and they use the BABOK® Guide as their manual to ensure the delegate has achieved the necessary competencies for each level. There are 4 levels in total:
Level 1: ECBA™ (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™)
This qualification distinguishes individuals who are entering the field of business analysis for the first time. You will need 21 hours of studying to have general awareness and practical knowledge of the six Knowledge Areas as represented in the BABOK®. Those areas are:
- Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
- Elicitation and Collaboration
- Requirements Life Cycle Management
- Strategy Analysis
- Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
- Solution Evaluation
The exam is 50 multiple choice questions for one hour.
Level 2: CCBA® (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™)
If you have two to three years of practical business analysis work experience and study 21 hours of the requirements for this qualification, you may earn the Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™. This level requires from you to be skilled in recommending action, applying the knowledge and modifying the rules of the six Knowledge Areas mentioned previously by using key behaviours like creative thinking, decision making and Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication.
The exam is 130 scenario-based multiple-choice questions for three hours.
Level 3: CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional™)
This level needs two to three years of practical business analysis work experience and 35 hours of study. You will demonstrate that you are an expert in creating the rules, guiding the practice and have advance knowledge in the six Knowledge Areas with skills like written communication, problem solving and conceptual & system thinking.
The exam is 120 case study-based multiple-choice questions for 3.5 hours.
Level 4: CBATL™ (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader™)
This is a new accreditation from IIBA® and is like the BCS’s Expert level. It recognises advanced BA professionals who have over 10 years of experience. IIBA® will announce the requirements soon.
There are many options to choose from, but what you need to do is map exactly where your business analysis knowledge and skills are. If you are a total beginner, starting a foundation/entry level course is the best choice for the time being and then you can study your way up.
If you have more working experience and want to be recognised as a business analysis professional, the advanced levels of certification of the above-mentioned accreditation bodies may help you.
Knowledge Train® offers BCS’s Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis as an online course that is easy to understand, interactive, full of quizzes and will help you to pass the exam. Why don’t you contact our helpful team for more information or ask for a demo?
IIBA®, BABOK® Guide and Business Analysis Body of Knowledge®, are registered trademarks owned by International Institute of Business Analysis.
CBAP® and CCBA® are registered certification marks owned by International Institute of Business Analysis.
Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™, Certified Business Analysis Professional™, Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™, Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader™, ECBA™, and CBATL™ are trademarks owned by International Institute of Business Analysis.
List of references
 Unknown. (Unknown). History of BCS. Available: https://www.bcs.org/category/11284. Last accessed 20/08/2018.
 Unknown. (Unknown). Expert BA Award. Available: https://certifications.bcs.org/category/17851. Last accessed 20/08/2018.
 Unknown. (Unknown). About Us. Available: https://apmg-international.com/about-us. Last accessed 22/08/2018.
 Unknown. (2014). History of IIBA. Available: https://www.iiba.org/About-IIBA/History-of-IIBA.aspx. Last accessed 22/08/2018.
Simon Buehring is the Founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train.