Are business analysis certifications vital for a career as a business analyst? Although certifications can certainly help someone stand out from the crowd when applying for a new business analyst job (or secure them a raise if they’re already employed), it’s worth examining whether many business-analytics roles demand a certification.
Business analysts are usually tasked with determining whether products and projects are viable from a strategic perspective. It’s a role that involves a lot of teamwork, as your typical business analyst must not only work with the teams creating the product or service, but must also communicate insights to project managers, the C-suite, and other stakeholders.
That’s why, during the business analyst interview questions process, hiring managers will often focus not only on the business analyst’s analytical abilities and knowledge of industry tools, but also their “soft skills.” Here are some of the top skills that pop up most often in business analyst job postings:
But what about business analysis certifications? Are they worth earning? Dice spoke with Jim Johnson, vice president of tech and IT staffing solutions specialist Robert Half Technology, on the ways in which business analysis certifications can give your career a boost, advice on which ones are in demand—and the benefits those certifications can bring.
How many business analysis certifications are there?
“Every day there are things that come out, and there are some we find that the most popular ones are often from the big vendors like Microsoft or Oracle, but what our clients are looking for is not always a specific area, they’re just looking for a structured understanding or validation beyond work experience,” Johnson said.
Every year brings a new Top 10 or Top 20 list, he noted, and colleges and technical schools offer a wide variety of certifications. When combined with the lists of vendor-specific certifications, it makes for a very crowded field, to say the least.
“There’s a wide variety,” Johnson said. “Maybe its Hadoop, maybe it’s more around a methodology, or a business type certification, from data, to programming–it’s all over the place.”
What certifications do you need for business analysis?
Johnson said that core business analysis certifications include Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) and Certified Data Science (CDS), which he noted are the ones he’s hearing most consistently: “If the organization wants a focus on big data, they’ll want certifications with Oracle or Hadoop, or some of the larger players out there.”
Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, also breaks down some certifications that pop up for open business-analyst jobs. Those include:
- Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)
- Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader (CBATL)
- Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
- Project Management Institute—Business Analyst (PMI-PBA)
Which certifications are in demand?
But how many jobs actually demand the above certifications (CCBA, CBAAP, CBATL, ECBA, PMI-PBA). The answer, according to Burning Glass, is “not that many.” Let’s take a look at the chart:
As you can see, not many business analytics (and business-analytics-adjacent) jobs seem to demand these five certifications, although Burning Glass expects that number to rise in the years ahead. Indeed, many of these jobs ask for a bachelor’s degree, suggesting that employers are putting more emphasis on skills and experience than advanced degrees.
However, many business analysts also possess certifications in a particular expertise. For example, with cloud technologies continuing to grow (especially given the business shifts due to COVID-19), Johnson said certifications for Azure, Amazon, IBM, and Oracle cloud are all in demand, because they indicate proficiency with being able to leverage large datasets across those environments. The trend is pointing toward companies wanting to have validation of your knowledge, and so having any of these certifications will never hurt you.
As Johnson also noted, midsize and large companies are investing in data scientists and business analysis; those investing in larger analytics buildouts want people with certifications in platforms such as SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle.
“Do you need it?” He said. “Maybe not, but in this arena, because it’s one of the newer areas, and because some folks have grown into a data analyst role, now that they’re being more quantitative about it, clients are looking for those who have been able to validate their skills, and additional training they can execute within business analytics.”
What’s the difficulty level for obtaining a business analysis certification?
Johnson noted the knowledge required to earn certain certifications, particularly the ones that delve heavily into the cloud and data-analytics platforms often associated with business analytics.
“If I’m trying to get certified on a Oracle platform, that’s a technology,” Johnson said. “For methodologies, those may be easier for people who like trigonometry and have that sort of mindset, things like qualitative versus quantitative. It proves that your mind can think in the way that companies need to look at their data.”
Companies put a heavy emphasis on analysts’ ability to interpret what they’re actually seeing in the data—and recognizing important insights that software might miss.
What are the benefits of a business analysis certification?
As a job candidate, a certification (or multiple certifications) shows you’re willing to invest beyond your work experience, and take a personal interest your contribution to an organization.
“You want to learn more, you want to invest in yourself to be able to do more, like increase your learning and your capabilities,” Johnson said. “Having these certifications shows you’re always looking for ways to improve yourself, and it lets your employer know you can maybe help improve their business.”
He also noted that, when looking at what adds to a job offer, certifications can prove useful. “The certification can add 5 to 10 percent on an offer, depending on what the company demands on that area,” he said. “If they’re holding out for that skill set, it gives you the opportunity to demand more as an employee as well.”
What happens after you achieve your brand new business analysis certification? The best thing to do next is get prepared for you next position that you’re going to apply for by polishing up your business analyst resume.