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ECBA™ vs. CCBA® vs. CBAP® vs. IIBA®-AAC: Which IIBA Certification is Right for You?

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In this blog, we will be exploring the various certifications offered by IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis). We will start by differentiating between the three designations that are considered the “core” business analysis certifications:

  1. ECBA™ (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis)
  2. CCBA® (Certificate of Capability in Business Analysis)
  3. CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional)

After outlining the differences between the three core certifications, we will explore what IIBA calls the “specialized” certifications:

  1. IIBA®-AAC (Agile Analysis Certificate)
  2. IIBA®-CBDA (Certificate in Business Data Analytics)
  3. IIBA®-CCA (Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis)

Let’s get to it!

IIBA’s Core Business Analysis Certifications

The primary difference between the “core” business analysis certifications is the experience of the candidate; however, the target audience also differs a bit. First, the table below summarizes the requirements to sit for the exam as of this writing; always check current requirements at IIBA.org under the “certifications” tab.

The certification handbook can be reviewed and/or downloaded from IIBA’s website: https://www.iiba.org/globalassets/certification/files/core-ba-certification-handbook-rev1a.pdf

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

As illustrated in the table, eligibility to sit for the certification exam between the three designations is primarily differentiated by experience. When I filled out my application to it for the CBAP® exam, I found that the lion’s share of my experience fell into the Strategy Analysis Knowledge Area. Before I could sit for the exam, I had to be able to document at least 3,600 of the 7,500 hours’ required experience within four of the six knowledge areas (minimum of 900 hours each).

Next, let’s outline the target audience for each of the three “core” credentials:

Fun fact:

Note: We will discuss the application process and exam in an upcoming blog so stay tuned. At this point, it’s good to know that you do NOT have to progress through the three credentials; rather, you will apply for whichever credential “fits” your objectives and for which you meet the work experience criterion. However, keep in mind that progressing through the three certifications as experience mounts will not only reflect the increased expertise of the business analyst but will make studying for the CBAP® exam so much easier!

Watermark Learning holds periodic webinars regarding the differentiation between IIBA certifications.

They’re typically entitled “IIBA Certification Chats” and can be found here: https://www.watermarklearning.com/resources/webinars

Note: You must register on our website: https://www.watermarklearning.com/ to gain access to webinars or templates. Registration is a quick and painless process and don’t worry – you won’t be inundated with email from us; instead, we’ll let you know about upcoming classes and webinars on a monthly basis. 

IIBA’s Specialized Business Analysis Certifications 

Let’s look at each of the “specialized” certifications individually:

IIBA®-AAC (Agile Analysis Certificate)

As the name implies, this certificate comes with its own body of knowledge (IIBA Agile Extension to the BABOK®v2) and focuses on applying the agile perspective within a business analysis framework. According to the IIBA Annual Business Analysis Salary Survey (discussed in our first blog in this series), 71% of BAs practice agile approaches and those certified in agile analysis earn up to 16% more than their non-certified colleagues.

The certification handbook can be found here (free download available for IIBA members): https://www.iiba.org/globalassets/certification/aac/files/iiba-aac-certification-handbook-rev1a.pdf

There are no eligibility requirements from a work experience or professional development standpoint but IIBA recommends 2-3 years of BA experience working within an agile framework.

Fun fact: There are currently 443 IIBA®-AAC certificate holders in the world as of 4/30/20.

IIBA®-CBDA (Certificate in Business Data Analytics)

This certificate recognizes a business analyst’s ability to effectively work in support of business analytics initiatives.

There are two bodies of knowledge that the exam draws from: IIBA’s Introduction to Business Data Analytics: A Practitioner’s View and IIBA’s Introduction to Business Data Analytics: An Organizational View.

The certification handbook can be found here (free download available for IIBA members): https://www.iiba.org/globalassets/certification/cbda/files/iiba-cbda-certification-handbook.pdf

There are no eligibility requirements from a work experience or professional development standpoint.

Fun fact: There are currently 58 IIBA®-CBDA certificate holders in the world as of 4/30/20.

IIBA®-CCA (Certificate in Cybersecurity Analysis)

IIBA has partnered with IEEE Computer Society in this certification offering. This partnership provides the credibility of a joint certification along with the opportunity for business analysts to learn key cybersecurity concepts and tools.

Learning modules in the form of PDFs or e-learning can be found here: https://www.iiba.org/certification/iiba-certifications/specialized-business-analysis-certifications/certificate-in-cybersecurity-analysis/#pricingformats

The certification handbook can be found here:

https://www.iiba.org/globalassets/certification/cca/files/iiba-cca-handbook.pdf

There are no eligibility requirements from a work experience or professional development standpoint.

As of this writing, IIBA has not published the number of credential holders as the certification is still so new (you could be one of the first!).

Although this blog focuses on IIBA certifications, it is worth mentioning that the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a certification in business analysis and we are oftentimes asked by our students how the PMI-PBA® (Professional in Business Analysis) compares to the CBAP®. PMI’s certification focuses on business analysis within a project context; meaning, the focus is on defining requirements, shaping project outputs, and driving intended business outcomes.

You can access more information here: https://www.pmi.org/certifications/types/business-analysis-pba

Finally, you can review upcoming certification classes at https://www.watermarklearning.com/ under the “Training Courses” tab. If you would like to talk through which certification would best serve you, feel free to contact Watermark to explore your options with one of our business development consultants.

You can contact us by phone (1-800-646-9362), email (info@watermarklearning.com), or through our website (https://www.watermarklearning.com/contact.php).

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