Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the PMI-PBA Certification Exam. Many have come from past webinars on the topic.
Click on the question to view the answer.
1. What is PMI-PBA Certification?
PMI® announced in 2014 their PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) certification which is awarded to business analysis practitioners with 4,500 hours or more of BA experience (or 7,500 hours without a college degrede). The credential requires passing a comprehensive examination that is designed to objectively assess and measure business analysis knowledge and experience.
2. Why did PMI offer a BA certification if IIBA already has the CBAP and CCBA?
PMI completed research and this initiative, as with all their initiatives, is based on their own in-depth research and requests by their stakeholder community. They found that 36% of all projects fail because of requirements. Some social media forums have suggested other reasons, but PMI saw a need in this space. PMI believes in the value of business analysis; in fact, PMI has 14 BAs at their HQ working on projects. Evaluation which can happen post-implementation of the end product, where the business analyst helps the organization determine if they are getting the benefits they thought they would get.
3. What is the value of PMI-PBA certification?
The PMI website has a section devoted to benefits of certification. We would add the following benefits: provides a consistent language, shows an increased knowledge about the profession, and demonstrates a BA's commitment to our profession, which has been reported as an important factor to senior management.
You can visit the PMI website for a Handbook with additional information on PMI-PBA certification.
4. I’ve heard that the PBA is focused solely on requirements within the project. Is that true?
The area of business analysis that has been identified beyond the boundary of the project is Needs Assessment, which is pre-project initiation. There is also a portion of evaluation which can happen post-implementation of the end product, where the business analyst helps the organization determine if they are getting the benefits they thought they would get.
5. How do I sign up for the exam and what does it cost?
The exam is the final requirement for PMI-PBA certification and anyone desiring to take an exam must first apply for certification and pass the initial screening process. Once the PMI determines your qualifications to sit for an exam, you must schedule with the official testing agency to reserve a date for a computerized exam. You will receive an email with instructions once your reservation is approved. Visit www.PMI.org for the complete process.
Total cost for PMI members is $405 USD.
Total cost for non-members is $555 USD.
Candidates can save money on the cost of the exam by applying for PMI membership. The cost of an individual membership is $129/year. NOTE: costs are subject to change without notice. Check with www.PMI.org for the current prices.
6. How long does it take to get approved to take the exam once you complete the application?
PMI says “Once you submit your PMI-PBA application it takes five calendar days to process the application. The PMP application is similar as it also takes five calendar days to process the application. The PMI-ACP application is different; it takes ten days to process the application.”
7. What are the education or work experience requirements needed?
To be eligible for PMI-PBA Certification, you must meet the following requirements:
|BA Experience||4,500 hours over past 8 years (Bachelor's) OR 7,500 hours over past 8 years (High School)|
|Domain||2,000 hours of BA Experience hours working across BA domains on project teams over past 8 years|
|Education||High School or College Degree|
|Professional Development||35 hours|
|Additional||Signed Code of Conduct|
|Fees||$405 exam fee ($555 for non-members)|
|Renewal||Once every 3 years; need 60 PDUs for renewal|
8. What is the best way to demonstrate that I meet the requirement of 4500 or 7500 hours?
We suggest completing a spreadsheet such as the PMI-PBA Application Worksheet we provide as a free download on our web site. It requires quick and free member registration and once you download it the spreadsheet makes it easy to organize your projects. It also totals your hours to let you see how close you are to the needed requirements. There is also a worksheet to organize your education contact hours.
9. When filling out the project hours for the PMI-PBA, is it alright to use the same projects from your PMP application?
While you can do both BA and PM work on the same project, you cannot claim the same hours for both. For example, if I worked 500 hours on a project, I cannot claim 500 PM hours and 500 BA hours for that same project. I could say I did 300 hours that were PM-related, and 200 hours that were BA-related. The tasks as described in the Exam Content Outline for each exam are different, and the application should reflect work as described in the appropriate ECO. The bonus for having a PMP is that you will only need to record your 4500 (or 7500) hours of BA experience, since you will get credit for the 2000 General Project Experience hours automatically with his PMP.
10. Where can we access a formal class to prepare for the PMI-PBA exam?
Watermark Learning has formal PMI-PBA Prep Boot Camp classes scheduled throughout the year. We offer these classes in person, live online over the internet, and as self-paced Anytime Learning options.
11. Are there practice exams readily available? How can I get them? Does the PMI provide sample tests through the website?
PMI does not provide sample tests. There are some online exams available, and make sure you find exams developed by people or companies such as Watermark Learning who are registered PMI education providers. That way you will be more likely to have realistic PMI-PBA exam simulations. Our PMI-PBA Online Study Exam is a great way to prepare, with three study modes including a realistic exam simulator. We have over 800 mock questions in our PMI-PBA Study Exam available to give you experience with the types of questions you will see on the exam. Another plus are the explanations we provide for correct and incorrect answers.
12. Do you recommend any books to help prepare for the certification that would contain practice questions for the exam?
Below are links to handbooks that will help you to understand the PMI-PBA from the application process to maintaining the certification.
- Watermark Learning has its own PMI-PBA Study Guide to help you prepare.
- PMI has a reference list of books on their web site. We do not recommend you read them all to help you prepare. Choose one or two general books on business analysis or requirements.
- PMI has published Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide, which we think would be helpful to preparing for the exam (despite their disclaimer).
- We also suggest you read relevant chapters of the PM Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
13. What is the difference between PMI's Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide and the BABOK?
As the name implies, the BA Practice Guide is a practical “how to” guide. Its focus is on business analysis, mostly on projects and some coverage of pre-project and post-project work (see answer elsewhere). The BABOK Guide is a comprehensive standard for performing business analysis in and outside of projects. As a standard, it covers the “what” of business analysis. Because of their different purpose, both works complement each other.
14. What is a good time frame for study prior to taking the exam?
An "ideal" span is around 3-6 months, depending on your approach. Plan on spending around 100 hours preparing, which is the average range we found in our research. You can lessen this time with a class or our PMI-PBA Online Study Exam. A person could also do it in 4-6 weeks, but then be prepared to study nights and weekends, or for taking entire days off to read, study, memorize, and take practice exams.
15. Do you have suggestions for studying for the PMI-PBA exam?
Make sure you obtain a copy of the Exam Content Outline from PMI. It is based on a Role Delineation Study performed by PMI, which surveyed experts in the field and determined the exam scope. Since the PMI-PBA exam is not based on a PMI standard, there are actually a few references that PMI lists. To make life easier, our PMI-PBA Study Guide pulls together the information needed for preparation.
16. Why are there questions in your PMI-PBA Online Study Exam that really pertain to Project Management and not Business Analysis?
The PMI-PBA is PMI’s professional credential for people who perform business analysis, which includes project managers. Expect some topics on the exam that apply to both disciplines. Some of the domains, tasks, knowledge, and skills outlined by the PMI-PBA Examination Content Outline are also covered by the PMBOK Guide. Particularly anything to do with scope, and some aspects of quality are potential subjects for exam questions. PMI recommends candidates include the current edition of the PMBOK Guide as one of their references.
17. How many questions are in the PMI-PBA Exam?
The PMI-PBA exam takes approximately 4 hours and contains 200 questions (of which 175 are scored).
18. What percentage is required to pass the PMI-PBA Exam?
PMI does not publish percentages. Assume you will need to score 70% or better to pass. We recommend 80% on all domains on our Online Study Exam.