What is a certification really worth? Children get them for good school attendance or winning a race. Yet, numerous college institutions, and other organizations, are passing Business Analyst Certifications off as though they are equal, in some way, to the degrees they confer upon graduates.
When asked whether someone should complete their college degree or get a BA Certification instead, I recently posted the following on LinkedIn:
I think completing your degree will give you the most “bang-for-your-buck”. Here are a few reasons I feel this way:
- You already have significant experience as a BA. Right now, the CBAP is not as widely recognized or required by employers as, say, the PMP. A quick search for CBAP on the major job boards will validate this.
- A degree provides you more options if you find you cannot advance, specifically if your company does not have a career track beyond Senior BA.
- In my opinion, many of the Certification programs offered are way overpriced. You can acquire additional BA knowledge cheaper online or through books. This works best when you find a mentor or two that you can have direct your knowledge seeking efforts.
If you are more business oriented, I would suggest a Bachelors in Information Systems or other Business degree. If you are very technical, I would recommend a Computer Science degree. If you are hoping for further advancement, I would recommend the MBA which can lead to higher management levels.
Worthless BA Certification Exceptions
There can be exceptions. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is a fine example. The PMP is a certification recognized across all industries and backed by a mature organization with a history of steady improvement. Employers across the globe demand PMP certification as a basic requirement. The closest thing Business Analysts have is the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). However, the IIBA is not yet mature enough to engender the same sort of recognition as the PMI. Don’t get me wrong, the IIBA will become what the PMI is, but that is going to take years.
Experience and Training – NOT a Piece of Paper
A quick search of the job boards proves that current employers are searching for people with particular experience and training. You would be better off plunking down $6,000 on a SAP or Business Objects training course than a Business Analyst Certification. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay for training. On the contrary, you should purchase training, but you can do it much more cheaply by taking online Business Analyst training courses and buying books. If you do decide to get the certificate anyway, just make sure you are doing it to get the training to develop experience and NOT just for the piece of paper.