The Ins and Outs of CBAP certification

In our last blog post, Andrew discussed the arguments for and against getting certified as a Business Analyst, and hopefully presented a compelling argument for certification.  For those of you that have chosen this path, I will now go over the ins and outs of the IIBA CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) and CCBA (Certification of Competency in Business Analysis) certifications.

Elabor8 has a goal of getting all its employees certified as either an IIBA CBAP or a CCBA, and I’ve been tasked with streamlining the process.  At first glance, applying for the certification does seem to be (and perhaps is) quite arduous, and after reading the prerequisites you certainly gain a greater appreciation for those who have successfully been certified!  One of the main stumbling blocks for people seems to be understanding whether they meet the specified exam prerequisites.


Exam Prerequisites

According to the IIBA requirements in order to qualify for a CBAP certification, you need to have completed 7500 hours of BA related work (approximately five years) over the past ten years, or for a CCBA 3500 hours (approximately two and a half years) over the past 7.

Furthermore, that work will need to be given a percentage breakdown into one of the BABOK related knowledge areas shown below:

BABOK Knowledge Area Description
Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring The identification of stakeholders, selection of business analysis techniques, the process that will be used to manage requirements, and how to assess the progress of the work.
Elicitation Ensuring that a stakeholder’s actual underlying needs are understood.
Requirements Management and Communication Ensuring that stakeholders and the project team remain in agreement on the solution scope, determining how requirements are communicated to stakeholders, and how knowledge gained by the business analyst is maintained for future use.
Enterprise Analysis Problem definition and analysis, business case development, feasibility studies, and the definition of solution scope.
Requirements Analysis Analysing stakeholder needs to define solutions that meet those needs, assessing the “as is” state of the business to identify and recommend improvements, and the verification and validation of the resulting requirements.
Solution Assessment and Validation The assessment of deployed solutions to see how well they meet the original need so that the organization can assess the performance and effectiveness of the solution.

Table 1 – The BABOK Knowledge Areas1

There are also a minimum number of hours required for each knowledge area, with differing criteria for either CBAP or CCBA. For CBAP, a candidate will require at least 900 hours of work experience in four of the knowledge areas. For CCBA, the candidate will need either 900 hours in two of the areas, or 500 hours of work experience in four of the areas. On top of that, the you will also need to provide evidence of 21 hours of BA related professional development over the past four years in order to qualify.

It’s also important to bear in mind that any work that doesn’t fall under one of these categories (e.g. programming, testing, project management) do not apply. Any work hours you attribute to activities like this will be ignored in your application.

You will also need to provide details of the work performed, as well as relevant project references. The kind of information you would need to provide is similar to what is expected for a probity check for a potential employer. Finally, you’ll need to provide two professional references. These references can be a Career Manager, an Internal or External client, or someone who is already CBAP qualified.

In order to simplify the process as much as possible for myself and my colleagues, I’ve begun writing up a simple spreadsheet to help consolidate the necessary information to meet the exam prerequisites. You can access it for your own use here, and please feel free to provide feedback on how you think it can be improved.

Once you send through the application and fee, and its gets approved by the IIBA, it’s time for the exam.

Certification Exam

Getting either the CBAP or CCBA certification will involve sitting a 150 multiple choice question, three-and-a-half hour exam. The primary difference between the two applications are the number of recall questions compared to the number of behavioral questions. The CCBA exam contains a greater percentage of recall (i.e. definition based) questions compared to the CBAP exam, which has more behavioural (i.e. what would you do in this situation?) questions.

The current exams don’t actually have a published pass/fail mark (e.g. score >70% to pass). Whether or not you pass is calculated immediately upon completion of the exam (or for paper based tests, within 30 days of exam completion).

Also, to assist with exam preparations, many local IIBA chapters offer facilitated study groups. Check with them to see if there are any available in your area.

For those that have already finished this journey or are currently still in the middle of it, how have you found the entire process to be? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.



  1. Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, from the International Institute of Business Analysis


One comment

  • Pallak

    Hi Paul,

    I have been in consulting and BA space for few years and stumbled here, but glad I did. The article is informative in regards to preparing for applying for CBAP without going around with unnecessary information.


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