Many questions can arise when becoming a Business Analyst.
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1. WHAT DO BUSINESS ANALYSTS DO FOR ORGANIZATIONS?
2. I want to become a Business Analyst (BA), where should I start?
This is, by far, the most common question I get. So common, in fact, that I created a whole page on my website and a separate blog post dedicated to answering it. In summary, there are five key steps to becoming a Business Analyst.
- Validate Interest - First you need to validate a Business Analyst career is something you want to explore further.
- Learn the Fundamentals - The basics always need to come first. Understand what Business Analysts do and how they do it.
- Enhance your Knowledge - The BA field is very broad. Dig deeper into your passion areas to round out your knowledge.
- Enter the Job Market - Put your learned knowledge to work and land your first Business Analyst position.
- Continue Learning - Learn new skills and stay up-to-date with all the latest trends and techniques
To learn more, check out The Path to Become a Business Analyst.
3. What type of college degree do i need to be a business analyst?
Business Analysts play an extremely important role for companies. Many times they are the face of the organization on various high cost projects and will be a determining factor in the success of the company's endeavors. Due to that, most companies want their candidates to have at least a Bachelor's degree. The best focus of study varies greatly, but generally anything related to business, technology, or mathematics will work.
If you have a Master's degree, your education will not be a obstacle. While having this high of a degree certainly isn't necessary, if you do hold one, you should have no chance of being eliminated due to not meeting the educational qualifications.
Going the other way, you absolutely could land your first Business Analyst position with a minimum of an Associate's degree. This is not recommended however, as you would need extensive business or technical knowledge in the industry and that still doesn't guarantee you will even get through the Human Resources screening.
In the end, snag yourself a four year degree and you should meet the vast majority of the educational requirements for BA positions.
4. should i get a business analyst certification?
Due to the popularity and growth of the Business Analyst role, there are many companies and organizations out there offering various Business Analyst certifications. Some, like the IIBA, are highly touted and recognized as the gold standard of the profession. Others are more learning websites, including Udemy, that offer certifications after completing various training or courses. To better explain, let's break the certification down into two pieces, the learning and the actual certification.
Learning - This is the most important aspect and should be the reason you are taking the training to begin with. Ultimately you are getting a certification to show your capabilities of accomplishing something. Without the learning, the certification is useless.
Paper Certification - The actual certification can be good to help you land your first Business Analyst position or to help you advance within the company, but only if it is recognizable. As much as I would love it to, my Business Analyst Fundamentals course certification just doesn't stack up to a recognizable certification like the IIBA's CBAP. With that being said, the learning and practical knowledge gained from the Business Analyst Fundamentals course will provide you more value than passing a test.
If you are an aspiring Business Analyst, your focus should not be on getting a piece of paper that says you can perform a set of standards. Instead, you want that certification program to teach the knowledge and skills to effectively execute within your projects. With that being said, IIBA has a new entry level certification that can help you standout versus other aspiring Business Analysts. Check out the FAQ, "What Business Analyst Certification Should I Get?"
If you are a current Business Analyst, certifications can help open up doors for promotions as it shows the company you are dedicated and willing to continually increase your value to projects, but your performance in the position will play a bigger part.
5. What Business Analyst certification should I get?
If you haven't yet read the FAQ "Should I get a Business Analyst Certification," I highly recommend you start there.
The two most recognizable organizations for Business Analysis certifications are the IIBA and the PMI. Certifications from either of these two organizations are touted the highest for Business Analysis. Currently I would say the IIBA is ahead in companies adopting their standards, but the PMI is a more mature organization and are pushing hard into the market. You really can't go wrong with either one of them.
New or Aspiring Business Analysts - Due to various certification prerequisites, if you are an aspiring or new Business Analyst, you really only have one choice, IIBA's new ECBA (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis). This certification is great to show you have the base knowledge and skills to perform in a Business Analyst role. The best part, there are very limited eligibility requirements, none of which require you to current be a Business Analyst. If you are looking to land your first Business Analyst job or recently landed you first BA job, this certification can be a differentiator when the employer is comparing you with other potential candidates for the job opening or a promotion.
Current Business Analysts - For people who have been working as Business Analysts for a number of years, there are more options for you to choose from.
- IIBA: CCBA - Designed for Business Analysts with 3-5 years of experience
- IIBA: CBAP - Designed for Business Analysts with 5+ years of experience (considered by many to be the gold standard)
- PMI-PBA - Designed for Business Analysts with 2-4 years of experience (PMI's first Business Analyst certification)
Since many organizations now have Project Management as a key responsibility for their Business Analysts, here are some other PMI certifications you may want to consider.
6. WHAT resources should I use to prepare for my certification exam?
We have partnered with some of our friends, including Watermark Learning, to provide you the resources you need to pass the various certification exams the first time!
7. Should i list my completed online courses on my resume?
With much of my audience stemming from my online courses, I get asked a lot if they should include their course completion certification on their resumes. My short answer is no, and here is why:
- Similar to what I mentioned in the FAQ "Should I get a Business Analyst Certification?" these online courses should really be utilized for the skills and techniques they teach you, rather than the certification you receive upon completion.
- As much as I would love them to, the certification of completion from my online courses is really only recognizable to those that have taken the courses. Without actually going through the courses the prospective employer has no idea what was actually taught in the course, so there is little value to listing it. As a note, this same logic applies to 95% of the training websites out there.
The real estate on your resume is extremely valuable, so instead of listing the certifications, mention how you are a continuous learner and on your own time you enhance to your skills by taking online courses. You can then mention a few of things you learned which match the job posting you are applying for. This method will give you a much better opportunity for success.
8. can you help me land my first business analyst job?
While I don't offer job hunting or matching services, I can certainly provide you some guidance. The first thing is to ensure you have completed steps 1-3 on the Path to Become a Business Analyst. If not, complete those first!
Once steps 1-3 have been completed, the next thing you need to do is verify your resume is up to snuff. The best place to start is by downloading my free BA Job Hunting eBook. In there you will get some basic tips around format, content, and best practices.
Now that we have the basics complete there are usually two places you could get stuck.
Not getting callbacks/interviews after applying - This means you are not meeting the basic requirements for the position, are applying to positions that are looking for more experienced Business Analysts, your resume is not properly selling you, or a combination of all three. The best advice I can give you is to identify the why and do some trial and error changes to see if you can break through the barrier. If you are still struggling and need additional assistance, I do offer a Personalized Resume Review service.
Getting to the interview, but not being offered the position - You are so close! When you stall out at this point, you can pretty safely say your resume is doing pretty good for you. The prospective employer likes what they see on paper, but after the interview, they don't feel confident you can fill their need. This could be due to your lack of interview preparation, your answers to questions, another candidate was just a better fit, or a combination of all three. Again, you need to take a critical look inward and identify the most likely cause and then work to adjust for that. If you still need additional assistance, check out my 5 Steps to Start Your Business Analyst Career online course.
Getting your first job as a Business Analyst can be a bit trying. Keep focused and keep at it! With hard work comes the biggest reward!
9. do you offer one-on-one coaching services?
Other than my Personalized Resume Services, at this time I do not. All of my actions in The BA Guide are started with, "How can I positively impact the most people at the same time?" While one-on-one coaching is extremely exciting and fun for me, it is hard to translate that very personalized service into something that others can utilize and benefit from. Therefore, I currently am dedicating my time to help the masses.
I do expect to offer very limited coaching slots in the future, so if you are interested, drop me a line and I will be sure to message you as they become available.
NOTE - This is not to say I won't give you some one-on-one advice. If you need assistance, I am here for you. Drop me a line or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am happy to help!
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11. what are some good books to learn about business analysis?