I have come across many working professionals who are working as a ‘Business Analyst’ (BA) for years and have moved from Jr. BA to lead BA, Business Architects, Managers etc role but never bothered to earn a single certification in their career. Some claim that it’s worthless, some are just plain lazy and some are totally ignorant that there are really good BA certifications out there. In this article, I would like to discuss some of the key benefits of earning a certification and try to make a case on earning one.
I have been working in the field of business analysis for the past 10 years and have earned Project Management Professional (PMP®) from PMI, Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) from IIBA® and Business Process Management (BPM) from OMG®. All three certifications have helped me tremendously in not just enriching my career but have also provided me with many secondary benefits. Let me discuss one by one obvious benefits I personally see in earning a certification. Though, in this article, I am going to talk more from a business analysis perspective, the below-mentioned benefits are applicable to any certifications, no matter which technology, domain or skill sets are involved:
(1) Credibility: When someone is certified there itself we feel assured that we are talking to the right person. How many times have we personally asked or pondered over whether he/she is qualified to do the given task. Be it a mechanic, technician, healthcare professional etc. Whether its about shortlisting of a resume, cracking a job interview or even in a ‘day-to-day’ work environment, people take you really seriously and trust your opinion, thoughts and discussions. They know that you have learnt all the theory behind it as well as applied it successfully to earn your certification.
(2) Professional Growth: Earning a certification obviously sets you apart from the herd. Everything else being equal, an individual with relevant qualifications/certifications will be preferred over somebody who lacks it. Whether it’s a promotion, selecting a right candidate for a challenging project or an exciting assignment. You will definitely have an edge over others.
(3) Monetary Benefits: Another reason for earning a certification is to improve your probability of getting better remuneration. Though not guaranteed (that’s why I have used ‘probability’), statistically speaking a certified professional has an edge over a non-certified professional. This is not because you are certified but more so because you have been selected for a much senior role, based on your experience plus certification. I still see it working like a back end channel to improve your remuneration package.
(4) Continuous Learning: The biggest reason why you want to earn certifications in your area of interest is because it keeps you engaged in that particular profession. First, in order to be eligible for a certification, in addition to a work experience, you need to have some hours of education in that particular field. So there’s first opportunity to learn either by taking an online or instructor-led training program. Second, in order to clear the certification exam, you need to read some sort of book. For example, IIBA® has BABOK®, PMI has PMBOK etc. This is another avenue where you will learn/refresh all the relevant topics. Third, once you clear the certification exam, all certification bodies require you to maintain it and one of the method to maintain your certification is to attend webinars, online/instructor-led training programs, reading white papers etc. So bottom line is that you are in a continuous learning mode. Isn’t that exciting enough?
(5) Mentoring/Coaching: Many corporations have ‘Mentor-Protégé programs. You can play a role of a mentor to your coworker. In addition to boosting your confidence it will also look very impressive on your resume. Also, lately companies have built ‘Center Of Excellence’ (COE) to improve their overall corporate performance and remain competitive. They are always in need of experienced professionals who can volunteer to act as a mentor or coach various organizational teams, groups or individuals. This is also a very good way to expand your network across the enterprise and earn more visibility.
(6) Professional Goals: We all set some goals. Goals keep us focused since we need to build a strategy our goals and then execute it in order to achieve it. It’s so exhilarating once you achieve it. Certifications help us set such professional goals, over which we have absolute control. Promotions, pay raise, overseas project etc may be part of our overall professional goals but are not totally within our control. But earning a certification is definitely within our control. So set one goal this year, formulate a strategy and earn it.
(7) Interviews: Job interviews become really easy. Since you are certified, interviewer is pretty much assured that you know the technical part of the job. Maybe few questions here and there but the focus of the interview will shift to check your soft skills, domain knowledge, personality and other behavioral attributes. Secondly, you will also feel confident to take the interview and crack it. It will show up in your tone, and body language.
These are some of the obvious benefits I personally see in earning any certification from a recognized body. And as I have mentioned, with some real-world experience already on your resume, all you have to do is dedicate few hours to go over the relevant topics, fill out application, take the exam and get your certification. Since 60% to 70% of the exam questions are ‘Scenario’ based, anyone with a real experience will be able to answer it correctly. You really don’t need to study them cause there is no way to. It comes by experience. So it’s only 30% to 40% you need to worry about. Also, you don’t need perfect score to crack any certification. So what are you waiting for. Just go for it and start enjoying all the above benefits right away.
Please provide your thoughts on it. I would love to hear from you all.more