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My Journey to CBAP - Part 1

Updated on May 4, 2012

Qualifying as a Certified Business Analyst Professional

I have been watching my hours accrue. I had already once submitted my CBAP application, but in spite of having around 1,000 hours more than I needed I was cut back to size, and ended up around 600 hours short of the required target of 7,500 hours. What really tripped my up was that after the adjustment I was short some 200 hours in 2 of my scoring knowledge areas.

So, for me it was back to the drawing board …These articles are the result of my quest for my very own CBAP qualification.

Since this is my second go, I thought that I would document my experiences. I hope that my insights into completing the application form, the tips and tricks I offer up for going back and establishing which of your projects qualify, and the spreadsheet that I developed for collating all of these hours proves to be useful.

The three articles are a chronological approach to the CBAP application form, and I share this spreadsheet in my third article.


But First: What is the CBAP? (And why do I want this certification?)

CBAP stands for Certified Business Analyst Professional, and is a professional certification that is offered by the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA). The certification was introduced in 2006, and has gone from strength-to-strength ever since.

The value of this certification is that, once attained, the holder can truly claim to be a professional in their field. It signifies that, in the eyes of your peers, you have earned your stripes as a professional business analyst. The IT field is filled with hacks; an unfortunate reality of the technology field in general. By achieving the CBAP you are no longer just another hack, and provably so. Attaining the CBAP qualification carries prestige, and its value is increasingly recognised by employers. As a result, this prestige is rewarded by way of better salaries, more interesting work and better opportunities in general.

Having worked informally as a business analyst for many years, having had a cold realisation of this fact, and then having worked to formalise my relationship with the profession, the CBAP represents the pinnacle of achievement for me. I am one of those people that believes that the IT field is trailing many of the older, more formal professions, such as lawyers, engineers and accountants. Each of these professions requires a trainee to complete their studies with a formal apprentice period, which is followed by a board exam where the scope and depth of their knowledge is tested by a group of their peers. The process is tough, but with reason. The trail‑by‑fire ensures that only those of the best mettle are included into the profession.

Getting Started – Understanding the Prerequisites

The first step that you can take in preparing for sitting the CBAP exam is to understand the requirements that the IIBA have.

The application process ensures that each applicant is eligible to sit the exam, and is able to demonstrate mastery of their profession. What this means is that you have to show that you meet the following requirements:

Minimum Education Requirement; you must have a minimum education level of high school, or equivalent. This one should be easy!

Professional Development Requirement; you must have undertaken at least 21 hours of business analysis-related professional development within the previous 4 years. Think webinars and courses through accredited educators.

Reference Requirement; you must get 2 references, from people who have known you for longer than 6 months, to indicate that you are a suitable candidate for the CBAP certification. You may choose a career manager, an internal or external client or a CBAP recipient to provide this reference for you. Caution: Don’t leave this to the last minute.

Work Experience; you must be able to demonstrate 7,500 hours, or about five years, of hands‑on business analysis work experience. This experience must not be older than 10 years at the time that you submit your application, and it must align with the BABOK. Warning: Don’t attempt to sneak in all that project management experience.

Knowledge Area Requirement; You need to demonstrate broad experience and expertise of business analysis work experience. To do this you need to accumulate a minimum of 900 hours in at least four of the six knowledge areas. Message: Make sure you are well-rounded as a BA.

The IIBA’s CBAP Handbook goes into the details for each of these requirements, and I would advise that you spend time digesting the details laid out in the handbook.

Next Steps – The Application and Exam Process

If, after reviewing the requirements, you feel that you are close to being able to take the exam the steps that you will follow are:

Step 1: Apply for, and Pay for your CBAP Certification.

Step 2: Pay for the Exam.

Step 3: Register for the Exam.

Step 4: Prepare for the Exam.

Step 5: Take the Exam.

In my next article I will discuss my approach to preparing my application. This is no simple process, and it is going to take you some time to compile all the information that you need in order to complete your application. I hope to offer some value and insight, and hopefully my spreadsheet will save you a bit of time too.


1. The IIBA’s CBAP page should be your starting point.

2. The Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge - Version 2.0 Framework is a great overview of the BABOK in general. Get the birds-eye-view here.

3. Download and read the IIBA’s CBAP Handbook.

4. You can also check out the IIBA’s Online Application form for the CBAP.


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