Business Analysis Certification

A Business Analyst career offers a well-structured path.  This includes two primary foundational certifications that can be earned on the way to establishing solid credentials.  This article explores those two credentials, the advantages of earning certification, and offers ideas to help you as a Business Analyst to choose the right path for you. 

This is the second part of a series of four articles on “Business Analysis”, where we explore various aspects of the field in practice today.  This article, Part 2 in the series, “Business Analysis Certification”, looks at the opportunity for certification and benefits of doing it.  Part 1, “Business Analysis:  Eliciting and Managing Requirements”, looks at the left and right bounds of what a Business Analyst does.  Part 3 “Business Analysis:  Stakeholders Within the Organization”, focuses on the variety of stakeholders for the products that Business Analysts produce.  Finally, Part 4, “Business Analysis Best of Breed Tools”, dives into the key capabilities of the tools that Business Analysts use. 

There are two primary options to go if you want to get certified in business analysis.  They are based on the certifying organizations: the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and Project Management Institute (PMI).  In either case, it takes some effort to earn a certification, and in both cases you will be exposed rigorously to a full Body of Knowledge in the Business Analysis domain – the Business Analysis body of Knowledge (BABOK) for the IIBA or The PMI Guide to Business Analysis.   

IIBA Business Analysis Certification 

The IIBA provides several levels of certification within the Business Analysis field, allowing you to grow as you gain knowledge and experience.  It does not confine Business Analysis to projects or programs, but rather explicitly defines a collection of Business Analysis activities that transcend the project and are applicable to all types of organizational improvement. Within the IIBA scope view of Business Analysis, Business Analysts should typically be involved to evaluate opportunities before projects are even approved.  The IIBA route gives you something to strive for within the Business Analyst hierarchy within larger organizations. 

PMI Business Analysis Certification 

The PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) is primarily for Business Analysts who work on projects and programs, as well as project and program managers who perform Business Analysis as part of their role.  As a result, the PMI-PBA is narrower in scope than the IIBA certifications, at least in terms of thinking about the scope of Business Analysis within organizations. It is more about what the business analyst role looks like when the business analyst is working under the wing of a project manager on a discrete project.  This PMI view of Business Analysis is what’s more commonly in place at today’s organizations. 

Which is better?  It all depends on your situation.  Whichever you choose, you will definitely be expanding your knowledge base and exposing yourself to a broad range of knowledge in the Business Analysis field.  Both are likely to continue to play an important role in defining Business Analysis as a unique profession.  That being said, if you aspire to a leadership role focused in the Business Analysis domain, you might be better served going the IIBA route.   

Here are a few other questions to ponder: 

  1. Are you in a project-focused business analysis role and intending to stay there? 
  2. Is your organization engaged in any way with the PMI or IIBA? 
  3. Regardless of your current focus, would you like to expand your world view from a Business Analysis perspective? 
  4. And finally…what are you going to do to take action and advance your career? 

This post is part of the series: Business Analysis

This series of four articles looks at the requirements of a Business Analyst and the performance of this job in Business Analysis.

1. Business Analysis: Eliciting and Managing Requirements
2. Business Analysis Certification
3. Business Analysis: Stakeholders Within the Organization
4. Business Analysis: Best of Breed Tools