This is one of the most common questions I get asked: "How do I get into Business Analysis?". This post contains an answer to this question that I hope will work for you.
To answer the question, "How do I become a BA?" I’d say there are multiple approaches to it and what works for you will of course depend on if you have any practical knowledge of BA concepts or not.
As a first step, assess your current knowledge and experience. To do this, you should be aware of the 3 BA job profiles: Generalist, Specialist and Hybrid. You can read more about them here:
These posts explain the kinds of roles you can expect to find in each job profile.
Once you're clear on the path you'd like (E.g. Finance Business Analyst, Management Consultant, etc), you may opt for: 1) BA training that prepares you for a certification; 2) Training that focuses on Business Analysis Concepts or Practices; or 3) Specialized training that focuses on certain BA techniques. It depends on your goal or focus.
There are lots of training methods available. If you do a quick search online for BA trainers, you’ll get online courses, trainers that can come to your office (customized) if your company is willing to pay or those that offer public classes you can attend (these tend to be cheaper and usually last for 3-5 days. There are also some tertiary institutions that are geared towards grooming BA Professionals. The type of trainer and mode of training will of course determine the cost. See The Business Analyst Training Landscape: A Guide To Selecting A Business Analyst Training Provider for more information.
As a start, here's a list of free BA training online that can help you get your feet wet and give you more information on what Business Analysts are expected to know. These links on how to select BA trainers and BA Training & Toolkits might also help.
This is not to say that you can’t get into business analysis without training. You could for instance, simply apply the ideas in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) guide to your daily tasks (if you get the opportunity) without necessarily going for a certification. BABOK techniques are straightforward and can easily be applied to your projects (without training but with self tutorial) if you understand its principles. Once you have some confidence in this, you may then include it in your CV before applying for jobs - experience counts.
If your objective however, is to enter the BA market by leaving your current field of expertise for a new industry or specialization altogether, then yes, a BA certification and some knowledge of that new domain would certainly help. It’d definitely convince prospective employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to fit any BA role. To read more on the benefits of CCBA/CBAP and BCS BA certifications, you may visit the IIBA and BCS websites. Here's an article on what to expect from each type of BA certification, which can help you make up your mind. PMI also offers a BA certification - PMI-PBA.
If you were to obtain a certification, you’d have nothing to lose and this would definitely appeal to different categories of employers while giving you an edge in the market.
In summary, you will need to:
- Define what kind of BA you want to be
- Decide if you want to remain in your present domain (e.g. Healthcare) or switch to a different domain altogether
- Understand what knowledge gaps (Domain and/or Business Analysis) you need to fill as a BA. Free training as mentioned above is a good start.
- Look for opportunities in your present job to put your BA skills to use and emphasise these kinds of tasks on your CV.
- Decide which certification might augment your BA profile the most and go for it.
- Tailor your CV so you can start applying directly to BA jobs
I hope you found this post useful.