5 Side Benefits of Earning Your CBAP® or CCBA®


When choosing to pursue a certification, such as the CBAP® or CCBA®, it’s logical to focus on the tangible benefits of receiving the certification itself. No one will fault you for wondering what job- or career-related benefits you stand to receive once you can put a certain set of letters behind your name.

However, in my experience of pursuing the CBAP certification, while there are tangible benefits from the outcome of being certified, there are some very real and very significant benefits generated as a by-product of the certification process itself, even when it was painful and downright frustrating.

In this article, we’ll examine 5 side benefits of earning your CBAP or CCBA.

1 – Building Confidence in Your Business Analysis Experience

The first side benefit on the list is building confidence in your business analysis experience. As part of applying for either the CBAP or the CCBA, you need to document how your work experience aligns to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®) Guide. For the CBAP, you will need to document 7,500 hours and for the CCBA 3,750.

When I went through the CBAP application process, I documented just over 10,000 hours, including many hours when I held other job titles, such as Quality Assurance Engineer and Systems Analyst. At first, I focused on getting to the minimum requirements. But as I got into the rhythm of documenting one project and role after another, the process became self-fulfilling. It was exciting to see my experience get drawn together into a cohesive whole.

I left this exercise feeling even more confident in my business analysis experience and owning my career history as a business analyst.

2 – Reconnecting with Past Co-Workers

A second part of both applications involves listing references and project contacts. References are required to fill out an online form validating your business analysis expertise and professional integrity. Project contacts are only called upon should your application be audited and will be asked to provide details substantiating the experience you documented.

This application requirement provides a great excuse to reconnect with professionals from your career past. They get to learn about your certification intentions. You get to confirm where they are currently working and see if you are in a position to help them too. It’s very possible that these reconnections could lead to other career opportunities.

3 – Connecting with Other Business Analysts

In addition to connecting with past co-workers, the certification process tends to provide opportunities to connect with other business analysts. While it is possible to pass the exam through independent study alone, most effective study approaches involve either a study group or a certification preparation course.

Study groups and prep courses include interaction with other business analysts about the BABOK® Guide. As a result, you get to learn how other business analysts work and obtain a more diverse perspective on the core business analysis tasks and techniques.

Connecting with these business analysts via LinkedIn can extend the relationship and you never know when you’ll be one connection away from a great career opportunity!

4 – Participating in Training Opportunities

Another requirement for applying for either the CBAP or the CCBA is that you have 21 documented professional development hours. Given the requirements of these hours, they tend to require you to participate in either traditional, in-person training or virtual, instructor-led training opportunities.

Of course, this means there is a significant financial and time investment to meet the application requirements. However, there is no requirement that these training hours cover all of the BABOK® Guide, only that they are aligned with some aspect of the BABOK® Guide. This means you have lots of flexibility in what training choice you make and can make a choice that furthers your other professional development goals.

5 – Confirming You Understand the Nuances of the Role

I’d be remiss if I ended this article without discussing a benefit of actually preparing to pass the exam. While I initially found exam preparation enlightening, I got frustrated when I realized I really needed to understand every little nuance of the tasks, techniques, inputs, outputs, and relationships between tasks outlined in the BABOK® Guide. (This is a common challenge on your path to certification and something I spend a lot of time discussing in How to Earn Your CBAP® or CCBA® in 3 Months.)

However, the intensive study and preparation process, which I’ve learned to refer to as “absorbing the BOK,” has boosted my confidence that I can do business analysis well and that I understand how and why business analysis as a discipline works.

The BABOK® Guide is brilliant at dissecting apart tasks. Often an activity that I think of as one cohesive whole becomes 3-4 tasks and techniques in the BABOK® Guide. An example would be ‘requirements review meetings’, which gets broken down into two tasks: Requirements Verification and Requirements Validation, along with several supporting techniques such as Structured Walkthrough and Problem Tracking.

Becoming a person who understands these nuances leads to more confidence in applying business analysis principles and more freedom to choose the right business analyst activities at the right time. Absorbing the BOK may have been painful at times, but the resulting confidence was worth every mind-crunching study moment.

Plan Your Certification Journey for the Most Possible Benefits

There are many tangible reasons to pursue professional certifications. As you are considering the path you’ll take to any professional certification, keep in mind that many of the benefits come from the certification journey itself. Plan a CBAP or CCBA approach that maximizes your time and financial investment so you leave the process not only with a few more letters behind your name, but also having realized other career-related benefits.

Author: Laura Brandenburg, CBAP, is the author How to Earn Your CBAP® or CCBA® in 3 Months and hosts Bridging the Gap, a website dedicated to helping you start your business analyst career.

Posted in: CBAP
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T Walker posted on Saturday, June 7, 2014 10:45 PM
Very insightful. I've been giving serious thought to pursuing the certification but was hesitant for the investment of time and money. You've given me something to think about.
Laura Brandenburg posted on Monday, June 9, 2014 1:29 PM
Thanks twalker317! The investment is significant and if you are focused on attaining the letters only, it may not make sense. If you can slow the process down and take the most from what it takes to meet each requirement, there is a lot to gain from the process.
T Walker posted on Monday, June 9, 2014 5:06 PM
Thanks Laura. I have definitely learned the journey/process often outweighs the destination.
Philippe posted on Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:45 AM
I agree with Laura it's a great review of your BA experience, a confirmation of your expertise and an opportunity to learn more cutting edge techniques. Phillip Quinn MTL.
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