The New IIBA Certification System

The New IIBA Certification System

A new business analyst certification system of the International Institute of Business Analysis became effective on September 30, 2016 (IIBA, International Institute of Business Analysis). In this article I would like to give an overview of the 3 existing levels.
A new business analyst certification system of the International Institute of Business Analysis became effective on September 30, 2016 (IIBA, International Institute of Business Analysis). In this article I would like to give an overview of the 3 existing levels.

The main difference between the new system and the previous one is a larger number of levels. In the past analysts could choose between CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional) and CCBA® (Certification of Competency in Business Analysis), today they have a choice of 4 levels.

 Level  Target Audience  
 L1 – ECBA (Entry Certificate in  Business Analysis)   Individuals entering the BA profession
 Professionals transitioning careers
 Functional managers who are not BAs but manage them
 L2 – CCBA (Certification of  Capability in Business Analysis)   Practicing business analysts Professionals combining several roles:  BA+PM/QA/Lead  Experience in business analysis: 2–3 years  
 L3 – CBAP (Certified Business  Analysis Professional)   Professional business analysts with experience over 5 years 
 L4 – CBATL (Certified Business  Analysis Thought Leader)   Recognized thought leaders, experts with work experience over 10  years 

The certificate names speak for themselves and do not require deciphering.

A discriminating reader may have noted that in the introduction I mentioned 3 levels, and then in the paragraph immediately after — 4 levels. This is because the CBATL requirements have not been published yet (they are expected to be announced at the end of 2017). Therefore, I will focus on the ECBA, CCBA, and CBAP levels, for which all information is available.

I should mention that IIBA has not changed its policy: you can take exams for any level, that is, to be certified in CBAP, you do not need to pass ECBA and CCBA exams first. So the first step is to determine the level that suits you.

The first criterion is work experience.

Certification ECBA CCBA


 Experience  requirements   Not  required   3,750 hours in the last 7 years;  900 hours of  work  experience in 2 knowledge areas of 6  (according  to BABOK)  OR  500 hours of work  experience in  4 knowledge areas of 6 (according  to BABOK)   7,500 hours in the last 10  years;  900 hours of work  experience in 4 knowledge  areas of 6 (according to  BABOK)  

7,500 hours is about 4.5 years; 3,750 hours is 2.5 years, respectively. But only if you have exclusively worked as a business analyst and all your activities satisfy IIBA requirements. Note that you could be engaged in business analysis while having positions such as a project manager, a QA or a developer, but probably not 100% of time. To understand what IIBA defines as the right experience, you should, at least briefly, go through BABOK® and CBAP®/CCBA® Certification Level Handbooks.

A few quotes.

“Legible activities include: direct BA activities (requirements gathering, writing requirements documents, etc.); business analysts coaching or mentoring with regard to BA activities (for example, planning the process of requirements gathering, reviewing requirements documents, etc.).

Activities that are not legible include:

  • resource management
  • teaching courses for business analysts
  • selling requirements management tools
  • project management
  • testing (for example, creating and executing test scripts, creating test plans/strategies)
  • programming
In the application form you will need to describe in detail the projects in which you participated and specify how much time you performed business analysis activities in respective knowledge areas. Good news: It is now much easier to fill in the form.

For each project you will need to specify:

  • the project name
  • the date you joined the project
  • the date you finished your project work
  • brief description of the project
  • the project contact details (name, email, phone, your relation to that contact)
  • information about the organization you worked for (name, industry, location)
  • for each of the 6 BABOK® Knowledge Areas, indicate for how much time you performed these activities
It’s a tedious task, but as a reward you will remember your wins and achievements of the past. Your LinkedIn profile and CV would be very useful.

Some more recommendations on filling in project information:

  • reverse chronological sequence
  • similar projects within the same year can be united in a single entry
  • if you simultaneously worked in several projects, indicate only one
An example of filling in the project information:


The second criterion is the number of professional development hours.

 Certification      ECBA CCBA       CBAP
 Professional development       21 hours       21 hours       35 hours 

And there is a subtle aspect too. “Real” hours of Professional Development (PD) can be earned by:

  • passing BA trainings organized by Endorsed Education Provider (EEP™)
  • attending educational events conducted by local chapters of IIBA
  • participating in conferences organized under the authority of IIBA. In that case, the organizers obviously speak about accounted PD hours.

PD hours can also be accounted for attending trainings/courses that meet the following requirements:

  • they must be a session or course with a trainer/moderator/ instructor
  • they directly relate to business analysis areas of knowledge/skills, including underlying competencies, as defined in the BABOK® Guide
  • they include opportunities for students to ask questions
  • they include opportunities to practice the tasks
  • they include an assessment of achievements
The full list of requirements can be found in CBAP® or CCBA® Certification Level Handbooks.

For each event in which you earned PD hours, you must specify the following:

  • course name
  • type (Business/Domain Knowledge; Business Analysis/Requirements, etc.)
  • brief description
  • number of hours
  • start and end dates of training
  • information about the organization that organized the event (name, phone, web site)
  • contact person who can confirm your participation (name, position, contacts)
An example of filling in the information on PD hours in the application form.

IIBA-New-Certification -System-professional-development.png

And the last point of requirements – references.

 Certification  ECBA      CCBA      CBAP 
 References    2 reference endorsements from either a  career manager, client, or CBAP®  recipient   2 reference endorsements from either a  career manager, client, or CBAP®  recipient 

Additional professional reference requirements of IIBA:

  • one of the references must be a current contact
  • references must have known you for at least 6 months
The form to be filled in is rather simple and its completion will not take a lot of time (around 10 minutes). They will have to specify their relation to you (career manager, client, or CBAP® recipient), how long they know you (they must know you for at least 6 months), your strengths and weaknesses, and something else in the same vein. A request for review will be sent to them as soon as you specify their data in your application form.

Now a few words about exams. They are quite different for each of the three levels.

 Certification       ECBA      CCBA       CBAP
 Number of questions   50  130  120
 Types of questions   Comprehension  questions   Scenario-  based questions   Case study 
 Scenario-  based questions 
 Time   60 min   180 min   210 min 
 Where you can take  exams   At home   Prometric test centers   Prometric test centers 

Comprehension questions are used to check your knowledge of definitions, concepts, and other information from the BABOK® Guide. Scenario-based questions require that you select the most suitable option in the suggested situation. Case study describes some situation in 1–1.5 pages, to which several questions are given.

Examples of questions for each level you can find at IIBA web site.

Below you can find themes of questions for each exam.

 Themes         ECBA, %       CCBA, %       CBAP, % 
 Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring       5      12      14
 Elicitation and Collaboration       20      20      12
 Requirements Life Cycle Management       20      18      15
 Strategy Analysis       5      12      15
 Requirements Analysis and Design Definition       24      32      30
 Solution Evaluation       1      6      14
 Techniques       12.5    
 Underlying Competencies       5    
 Business Analysis Key Concepts       5    
 Business Analysis & the BA Professional       2.5    

The pricing policy remains unchanged too.

 Certification      ECBA, $  CCBA, $        CBAP, $ 
 Price of processing the application form       60      125      125
 Exam (with a discount for IIBA members)       110      325      325
 Exam       235      450      450

And the last thing: ECBA Certificate does not require renewal; CCBA and CBAP Certificates must be reconfirmed every 3 years.

Interested in pursuing a career in Business Analysis or getting certified? Check out our Business Analysis trainings below:

  1. Introduction to Business Analysis
  2. Business Analysis. Planning and Monitoring
  3. Elicitation and Collaboration
  4. Requirements Life Cycle Management
  5. Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
  6. Solution Evaluation
Denys Gobov
Business and System Analysis Consultant

Still have questions?
Connect with us