This is a very frequent question that comes up in many interactions and forums.
“I am very interested to become a business analyst. I have a few years of industry experience.
Should I do an MBA or should I pursue a business analysis certification?”
A business analysis certification and MBA program are quite different initiatives altogether. They are vastly different in terms of one’s work experience pre-requisite, time commitment and costs incurred.
Let’s compare both the programs and figure out what would be a better choice for someone?
An MBA program is typically a minimum a year-long going, up to one and a half years to 2 years. In an MBA program, one studies basics of Business Administration. MBA programs typically cover topics starting from Marketing, Sales, Finance, Production, HR, Accounting and IT. After completing the MBA program, one can join a variety of job roles depending on one’s interests.
MBA programs do cost much more - anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000 depending on the program content.
Would completing an MBA help one to become a business analyst?
For sure, Yes. This is because as an MBA, one does study about basics of Business and IT. Some of the MBA programs may have specialization in business analysis and analytics as well.
Now coming to the business analysis certification program, one has the choice of ECBA, CCBA, CBAP, CPRE, and BCS BA depending on one’s experience and interest. The IIBA certifications namely ECBA, CCBA, and CBAP are undoubtedly the most recognized certification in the BA domain globally owing to the widespread trust and popularity of IIBA as a body being dedicated to the BA domain. Of course, CCBA and CBAP require business analysis experience of 2 to 5+ years to be eligible for the exam. In case one is looking at kick-starting a business analysis career then the ECBA certification is one of the best options.
Taking the certification path is much faster, recognized, more focused on building BA skills and less expensive compared to an MBA. CBAP/CCBA typically requires an investment between $2,000 to $5,000 and a time commitment of between 2 to 3 months. ECBA comes even lighter on the budget front with about $1500 investment and about 3 months of time commitment.
This is significantly lower than what one would spend in an MBA program.
CBAP/CCBA may not open up opportunities for one in other job roles such as a role in finance or marketing. But it does open up roles for one in information technology, Consulting as well.
If you are industry experienced BA, it makes a whole lot of sense to go for CCBA/CBAP because the time and cost commitments are much lower compared to what you would spend for an MBA program. The benefits that you would be able to derive from CCBA/CBAP program may be quite comparable to what you would have received by spending a lot more time and a lot more money through the MBA program.
If you are a fresher, do not lose hope.
As mentioned earlier ECBA certification program from IIBA is designed for professionals who want to join the BA profession. ECBA is a new certification and has received tremendous response from the professional community and college students.
However, if you are looking at having options open for yourself in multiple areas, then the MBA program makes sense because that makes you a lot more rounded professional in terms of career options compared to ECBA.
I hope this article helps you to make up your mind whether you should be looking at business analysis certification or join an MBA program.
I would be happy to answer any of your queries and help with your career-related queries.