Business analyst certifications are intended for professionals with experience in the field. Business analysts investigate market trends, current industry practices and other data to create reports that help executives and shareholders improve business. These analysts typically hold at least bachelor's degrees, and they may obtain certification through professional organizations to boost their careers.
Step 1: Complete Undergraduate School
Earning an undergraduate degree, like a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Management, is the first step toward a career as a business analyst. In these 4-year programs, students complete courses in operations management, accounting, marketing, statistics and human-resource management. Aspiring business analysts might also earn BBAs in concentrations like supply chain management, marketing or accounting.
Step 2: Consider a Master's
Though some business analysts enter the field with bachelor's degrees, many employers prefer applicants with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Such degree programs typically last two years and focus on advanced coursework in financial accounting, strategic management and data analysis. These programs also tend to incorporate internships that allow students to gain hands-on experience. Students may choose to focus their studies in concentrations like organizational management, finance or entrepreneurship. Additionally, some schools offer accelerated 1-year MBA programs designed for individuals who have multiple years of experience in business.
Step 3: Gain Experience
In addition to formal education, business analysts are often required to have years of experience in the industries in which they work. Aspiring analysts may gain this experience through internships during undergraduate and graduate study, or they may serve in related positions within their industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some analysts start out in research or other lower-level positions with firms and are promoted as they gain experience (www.bls.gov).
As of 2015, business analysts - also known as management analysts - earned a median of $81,320 per year. Job openings in this field were expected to increase 14% from 2014-2024, reports the BLS, which is faster than the national rate predicted for all job sectors.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) offers the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) designation to qualified applicants (www.iiba.org). According to the IIBA's website, www.iiba.org, the CCBA is designed for individuals who have gained 3,750 hours of experience in business analysis, as well as 900 hours of IIBA-approved experience and 21 hours of professional development.
More experienced business analysts may pursue the IIBA's Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) designation. Candidates must have at least 7,500 hours of business-analysis work experience in addition to 900 hours of approved experience and 21 hours of professional development. Candidates for both the CCBA and CBAP designations must also pass an exam that covers topics like business analysis planning, enterprise analysis, solution assessment and elicitation.
The recommended steps for becoming a business analyst include completing undergraduate school with a bachelor's in Business Administration in Accounting, earning a master's degree, gaining hands-on work experience, and obtaining certification.