demystifying the ccba-cbap application

Demystifying the CCBA®/CBAP® Application Process

The single most important piece of advice we at Watermark Learning can offer regarding the CCBA® or CBAP® application process is (drum roll please) – DON’T WAIT! The majority of students in our certification classes report that they haven’t started their application; later they share that they wish they had that out of the way before the “nose to the grindstone” study process kicked in! I always ask my students who have passed the exam, “What advice do you have for future certification candidates?” As they reflect upon the cradle-to-grave certification process, “Tell them to have their application done before they come to class” is always in their top three responses.

Hindsight, as “they” say, is 20/20. This blog offers practical guidance on filling out the application.

Watermark Learning’s website offers many templates that are yours, free of charge, to download. Among those templates are certification resources. Again, to access the templates you must register on our website which takes under a minute (yes – I timed it!). All templates can be accessed under the “Resources” tab; the direct link to templates is:

The beauty of utilizing this template is that it provides a user-friendly “sandbox” of sorts and when you’re ready, you can just copy/paste your information into the “official” application on IIBA’s website. The official application process guidance for both certifications can be accessed here:

Take a moment and peruse that guidance. It will walk you through the official CCBA/CBAP process step-by-step. Note that before you can access the actual application, you must pay the non-refundable fee ($125 USD + tax as of this writing). The candidate will then receive a confirmation email from IIBA at which point the formal application can be accessed. If you use Watermark’s template, filling out the application at that point is easy peasy; again, it is essentially a copy/paste exercise. My favorite reason for using the template is that it’s formatted; meaning, calculations are performed for you! Another and perhaps more pragmatic reason to use the template is that many candidates take a good period of time to collect all of their work history information, organize it into knowledge areas (KAs), and sum the hours per KA to ensure the minimum requirements are met. The worksheet is user-friendly and keeping it on your personal computer makes it accessible.

Okay, now that I think you’re convinced to use our application worksheet, let’s dive into the template itself.

Application Worksheet Template

The most rigorous portion of the official application is the “Work History” component so let’s start there.

First, let’s review the eligibility requirements for CCBA or CBAP:

CBAP application 1

There are six knowledge areas in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®); they are:

  1. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
  2. Elicitation and Collaboration
  3. Requirements Life Cycle Management
  4. Strategy Analysis
  5. Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
  6. Solution Evaluation

The first tab of the application (excel) workbook offers general instructions.

The second tab of the workbook is labeled “Work Experience” which will translate into the “Work History” portion of the official application. The worksheet is handily formatted for you with embedded time and percentage calculations; even so, this is where “sweat equity” comes into play! Also worthy of note is that there are comments on each column for additional guidance.

If you are applying for the CCBA® exam, you can go back 7 years; CBAP® exam – 10 years. Starting with the first project in which you performed business analysis activities, document:

CBAP Application 2

CBAP Application 3

WHEW! Can you see now why it’s a good idea to use the application worksheet template?

Note: It’s a great idea to add more work experience than the bare minimum in case some time is excluded based upon your listed activities in the “work description.” How much more? I’d recommend 5% if possible.

The last-second tab of the workbook lists “Professional Development” and provides all the pertinent information for the application except for the start and end date of the preparation course. NOTE: You CANNOT submit the application until professional development (training) hours are fulfilled. For example, if the class runs Monday-Thursday you will need to wait until Thursday night or Friday to submit your application for review and approval.

The last tab of the application workbook template lists “References.” A reference can be a:

  • Career Manager
  • Internal or External Client
  • CBAP Recipient

Note: References are only checked if you are selected for an audit. The two references must have known the applicant for longer than 6 months and must be able to speak to the integrity of the applicant and endorse him/her as a BA professional.

Next, the application will ask to agree with three statements in the “Attestations” section:

  • I agree to abide by the Code of Conduct.
  • I agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  • I have read the certification handbook.

Hyperlinks to all three documents are provided on the official application form.

Finally, the application will ask you to consent to be listed in the Certification Registry (a good idea because future employers/clients may look you up!).

Save money on your application by becoming an IIBA member. Once approved, candidates have one year from the approval date to schedule and sit for the exam.

Can you see why it’s a good idea to start the application (especially the Work Experience component) well before you take your certification prep class? Once you take the prep class, you will want to focus on study vs. administrative activities which at that point may be a frustrating distraction!

As always, our Watermark Learning personnel are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the application not covered in this material or to provide assistance.

You can contact us by phone (1-800-646-9362), email (, or through our website (

Don’t let the application process deter you from receiving your much-deserved credential!

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Ben Schwartz