Becoming a successful business analyst requires experience, education, opportunity and a host of other variable factors to be in place. Though BAs can learn quickly through encounters on the job, effective training is also essential to becoming certified and acquiring the knowledge you need to become a successful Business Analyst.
I get a lot of questions from readers trying to find their way through the maze of training options available in the BA industry. It can be rather overwhelming separating the wheat from the chaff with the increasing number of trainers available. Questions usually come in the form of:
Can you recommend the best BA training provider?
Which affordable courses are out there?
The challenge often lies in:
- Understanding what training options are available and
- Selecting the "best" training provider.
Making a decision will become much easier if you can answer these questions for a start: Are you looking to become certified or looking for training on a specific topic? Do you prefer virtual classes or traditional classes? What is your budget?
This article is not a review of training providers but rather, provides insight into the business analysis training landscape. If you understand what options are available and what you would like to achieve from the training, you will be in a better position to identify the training provider that is best for you.
1. Certification-Focused Business Analyst Training
This category of training is geared towards providing the number of professional development hours needed to qualify for a specific business analyst certification. Major business analyst certifying bodies require that applicants attend professional training programmes in order to receive credit for the hours spent learning and qualify to write certification exams.
A major concern for most people when considering certifications is work experience. Depending on the type of certification you decide to go for, you may or may not be required to have BA work experience. For example, the BCS Business Analyst Certification does not require that business analysts have prior BA experience in order to qualify.
Courses on offer in this category are typically endorsed by the certifying body and are available through boot camps, online, customisable and public classes.
For example, the IIBA endorses CBAP/CCBA Training Providers (and their courses) and refers to them as Endorsed Education Providers. Benefits of enrolling with an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) have been stated clearly by IIBA:
EEP courses are aligned with A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide)…All endorsed courses qualify for Professional Development (PD) hours and Continuing Development Units (CDUs) required for applying for and re-certifying for IIBA certifications.
Though an unendorsed course may also qualify at the point of assessment, course applicants have the added assurance that they will receive credits for the hours spent training with an Endorsed Education Provider. With PMI, you have Registered Education Providers if you are pursuing the PMI-PBA Certification while BCS has Accredited Training Organizations.
Examples of certification training courses you can explore in this category include:
- CBAP & CCBA Courses from Software Education
- CBAP/CCBA Certification Prep Boot Camp course from Global Knowledge
- CBAP Certification Preparation Course from Watermark Learning
- PMI-PBA℠ Certification Boot Camp From Global Knowledge
- BCS Business Analysis Certificates and Diploma qualifications from Metadata Training and Business Analyst Solutions.
2. Academic Business Analyst Training
An increasing number of Academic Institutions now offer courses specifically for those interested in following the business analysis career path. These courses are academic in nature (with a varying injection of professional knowledge). People intending to follow this business analysis training path would usually have to set out a significant amount of time to enrol for and complete the program, like they would for any graduate degree.
In this category, Business Analysis training may be acquired through a Masters Degree Programme geared at providing a general understanding of how businesses operate and how to solve their business problems.
Business Analysts usually require an understanding of the business environment in order to excel. To this end, a degree like an MBA can provide a solid foundation for launching a business analyst career. The interesting and flexible aspect of the business analysis profession is that you will often find professionals from different backgrounds entering the field. It goes without saying that any degree that teaches how a business (or a portion of it) operates, can serve as a platform from which to launch your BA career.
Academic programs usually take longer to complete than certification-based courses. Some programs offer opportunities to experience business analysis on consultancy projects, in some cases for up to 3 months. Some academic programs in this category also prepare participants to take certification exams (see Masters Certificate in Business Analysis from Schulich School of Business, York University) and vary in program structure and duration.
Examples of programs you can explore in this category include:
- MSc Business Analysis and Strategic Management from Manchester Business School.
- Business Analysis and Consultancy MSc from the University of Hertfordshire
- MSc Information Systems and Business Analysis from Aston University
- MSc in Marketing and Business Analysis from the University of Edinburgh
In some cases, you will find Business Analyst Training providers partnering with universities to offer a Masters degree path. Two examples include the Masters Certificate in Business Analysis from George Washington University (a partner with ESI) and the Masters Certificate in Business Analysis from Watermark Learning in partnership with Auburn University.
Professional Development Training For Business Analysts
For those seeking professional development courses, the options are varied. These professionals may choose to opt for training in any of the following sub-categories:
This sort of training is usually targeted at improving a specific skill or technique. It may also help to improve your knowledge of a specific business analysis subject area or application. An example is training on use cases. This training can be done just for the knowledge to be gained from it or to obtain continuing development units for recertification with respect to IIBA certifications, for example.
This category of training is targeted at improving the professional skills needed to enhance performance on the job. Another example is training that teaches presentation or communication skills.
Another form of training that Business Analysts can take advantage of is mentorship, where a BA consults the leadership and expertise of senior analysts to learn and grow in the profession.
Mentors are particularly useful in providing training on specific subjects. Some training providers offer mentorship services that allow them to fulfil customised training needs of individuals and organizations.
BAs may also choose to enrol for webinars that teach specific topics.
Some of these webinars offer units for recertification. For example, IIBA webinar participants can claim one Continuing Development Unit (CDU) per hour of webinar attendance. CDU is the IIBA® designation for Continuing Development Units. Many EEPs also give CDUs at some webinars, some of which are free to attend.
The categories described above are not clear-cut and you will often find areas of overlap. For example, you will find some Academic programs that also prepare students for BA certification examinations. You will also find business analyst training providers that offer training courses which cut across more than one of the categories listed in this article.
Business Analysis courses tend to be pricey so you may also want to browse through Business Analysis Courses on Udemy, which are generally more affordable.
Luckily, some BA courses are free, so you can explore them as well:
- Coursera: A List of Free Courses For Business Analysts
- edX: A List of Free Training Courses For Business Analysts
- A List of Free Business Analyst Training Online
Selecting the "right" trainer can be an overwhelming exercise. It requires a considerable amount of research but a clear understanding of your training needs will go a long way towards simplifying the process.
Picture Attribution: “Knowledge Is Power Sign Represents Education And Development For” by Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net