July 10, 2018

The Certified Business Analyst Professional Guide to IIBA CBAP Recertification

Post by: Brian Laehn

Brian Laehn is a Business Architect at Core BTS and has 20+ years of experience as a Senior Business Analyst, Scrum Manager, Project Manager and Agile Team Lead.


Achieving the IIBA CBAP Certification is one of the most prestigious certifications a Business Analyst can obtain. The benefits of becoming a CBAP are many. With these benefits comes great responsibility to continue to demonstrate a deep commitment to the business analyst profession. The day a BA acquires their CBAP certification begins the first day of their 3-year certification cycle. To continue the honor of being known as a CBAP, each CBAP must complete a recertification process by the end of their 3-year certification cycle.

There is a lot of information to be aware of regarding the recertification process, so I have analyzed the entire IIBA CBAP Recertification Handbook and distilled it here so you know how to achieve the 60 CDUs needed to obtain CBAP recertification.

CDU Definition and Category Requirements

Before we discuss each category and recommended activities to perform to achieve your 60 CDUs for recertification, we should first make sure you understand what a CDU is. CDU stands for continuous development unit and is a unit of measure used by the IIBA for recertification. Every CBAP must obtain a minimum of 60 CDUs per 3-year cycle based on their CBAP certification anniversary date. The 60 CDUs must be obtained from a minimum of 2 of the 6 different CDU categories below (note: the maximum CDUs per category that can be earned for each 3-year cycle):

  • Category 1: Formal Academic Education – Max of 30 CDUs per 3-year cycle
  • Category 2: Professional Development – Max of 30 CDUs per 3-year cycle
  • Category 3: Professional Activities – Max of 30 CDUs per 3-year cycle
  • Category 4: Self-Directed Learning – Max of 15 CDUs per 3-year cycle
  • Category 5: Volunteer Service – Max of 30 CDUs per 3-year cycle
  • Category 6: Professional Experience – Max of 25 CDUs per 3-year cycle

CBAPs may carry over 20 extra CDUs into the next 3-year recertification cycle; however, those 20 CDUs must be earned during the 3rd year of the recertification cycle.

CBAP Recertification Category Analysis for Earning CDUs

Let’s break down each of the 6 categories, in no particular order, that you can participate in to obtain your 60 CDUs needed for CBAP recertification. Remember, you do not have to obtain CDUs in all 6 categories. You will see that you will spend most of your time obtaining CDUs from a few of the categories, and there might be a category or two where you won’t obtain any from.

Category 1 – Formal Academic Education

Any academic course offered for degree credit must be taken after obtaining the CBAP and directly related to business analysis per the BABOK guide. One course credit counts as 1 CDU earned. To be completely honest, a lot of you will not obtain CDUs from this category, as most of you will have completed your formal academic education before you obtained your CBAP. You are able to earn a maximum of 30 CDUs from the formal academic education category. However, most CBAPs should look to obtain their 60 CDUs from the other 5 categories.

Category 2 – Professional Development

The Professional Development category provides a CBAP a lot of opportunities to obtain a maximum of 30 CDUs over a 3-year cycle. You can take an IIBA-endorsed course that aligns to business analysis and the BABOK and earn 1 CDU per 1 hour of classroom instruction. Attending educational programs offered by non-IIBA endorsed providers (that are moderated and facilitated like a formal course and that align with the BABOK) will earn you 1 CDU per 1 hour of classroom instruction.

Hopefully you are already a member of your local IIBA chapter meeting. If not, you need to find a local chapter and join immediately! Attending IIBA local chapter meetings count as 1 CDU earned for 1 hour of content that relates to business analysis. Attending other IIBA-sponsored (or other) conferences focused on business analysis content will also allow you to earn 1 CDU per 1 hour of presentation attended. 

There is one activity I recommend strongly, and that is attending IIBA-sponsored webinars that are listed on their website. These are free to attend and also count as 1 CDU per 1 hour of webinar attended. Some very well-respected BA community members speak at these webinars, and this is about the best free learning one can obtain! Over a 3-year period, every CBAP should easily be able to acquire 30 CDUs from Category 2 and learn a lot along the way.

Category 3 –  Professional Activities

There are a lot of activities you can take part in to gain CDUs from the Professional Activities category.  Category 3 is all about being an author, speaker, instructor, moderator, or content developer for a formal business analysis learning program. This category really is where you can share your knowledge and give back to the BA community. Here is a list of activities and the CDUs you can earn:

  • Author or co-author of a BA article published in a refereed journal = Earn 30 CDUs per article
  • Author or co-author of a BA article published in a non-refereed journal = Earn 15 CDUs per article
  • Special notes for article writing:
    • There will not be a strict minimum or maximum length defined for any article.
    • The article must be substantially (80% or greater) devoted to Business Analysis topic(s) as defined in the BABOK Guide.
    • The article may be published in a paper-based or electronic format, but the publisher must be different than the author and one that edits/reviews the article content prior to publication.
    • This provision does not apply to refereed journal articles.
  • Speaker/Instructor on business analysis at a conference (such as WI BADD), symposium, workshop, formal course or IIBA chapter meeting = Earn 10 CDUs per activity
  • Member/Moderator of panel discussion on business analysis at a conference, symposium, workshop or formal course = Earn 5 CDUs per activity
  • Author or co-author of a business analysis textbook = Earn 30 CDUs per textbook
  • Developer of content for a formal business analysis learning program = Earn 15 CDUs per program

Most CBAPs should be able to obtain the max of 30 CDUs through writing articles or speaking at a conference or a local IIBA chapter meeting. This is another great category to obtain extra rollover CDUs for the next recertification period. 

Category 4 – Self-Directed Learning

This is a category that every CBAP should be able to accumulate the maximum 15 CDUs for in a 3-year period. Self-directed learning activities involve personally designed research and/or study activities that include informal discussions or coaching sessions with co-workers, clients, or consultants. One CDU is earned for every one hour of self-directed learning activity. This category includes the study of books, how-to manuals, internet resources, and instructional resources.

An activity that I highly recommend everyone take part in is watching IIBA-archived webinars, as these fall under self-directed learning. The keyword here is archived because, if the webinar is attended live, then it falls under Category 2 – Professional Development. Qualifying self-directed learning activities must be relevant to business analysis as per the BABOK Guide, meet a specified purpose, and use knowledgeable resources. Overall, every CBAP should look to Category 4 – Self-Directed Learning to obtain 15 CDUs. This is a great continuous learning option to do at your own pace over a 3-year recertification period.

Category 5 –  Volunteer Service to Professional or Community Organizations

CDUs may be earned through volunteer service to IIBA, an IIBA Chapter, and/or by providing volunteer business analysis services to a non-employer community or charitable groups. For business analysis services to a community or charitable organization, these volunteer services must meet the definition of business analysis activities as defined in the BABOK Guide. The following is a list of the volunteer activities that qualify for CDUs and the number of CDUs that each volunteer activity would earn:

  • Serving as a volunteer Board member or officer for IIBA or an IIBA Chapter.
    • 1 hour of service qualifies for 1 CDU.
    • A bonus of 10 CDUs per “anniversary year” is also earned for a minimum of six months of participation per year.
  • Serving as a volunteer committee member for IIBA or an IIBA Chapter or volunteering at conferences such as WI BADD.
    • 1 hour of service qualifies for 1 CDU.
  • Providing business analysis related services to a community or charitable group.
    • The organization sponsoring the work must be a legally recognized not-for-profit and 1 hour of service qualifies for 1 CDU.

CBAPs that are active within their local IIBA chapter, or would like to volunteer to work at an IIBA-sponsored conference event, will find it easy to earn up to 30 max CDUs this category allows. This category offers the rewarding experience of sharing your BA knowledge and skills with other members of the BA community. 

Category 6 – Professional Experience

Your actual work experience where you are performing business analysis counts. Chances are if you are a CBAP then you are a Business Analyst who spends a lot of your workday performing BA activities. Concentrate on this category and reflect on what you have worked on since you obtained your CBAP certification.

You earn 10 CDUs for every 1,000 hours of actual business analysis work experience aligned with the BABOK during your 3-year cycle. Most full time BAs should be able to count 3,000-5,000 hours over a 3-year period which can help them earn 15 to 25 CDUs.

Start with a checklist of all BABOK tasks, and then estimate how much time you have spent on each of the tasks over all 6 knowledge areas. This exercise is very rewarding as you reflect on all the great BA work you have done in the last 3 years. You can earn a maximum of 25 CDUs from the Professional Experience category.

Try Something New & Give Back to the BA Community

One of the responsibilities of becoming a CBAP is to give back to the BA community and share your knowledge. Feel free to try something new while pursuing recertification! You could…

  • Volunteer to work at an IIBA conference or join the board of a local IIBA chapter.
  • Share your BA knowledge while speaking at an IIBA event or conference. (Volunteering your time will reward you with a lot of CDUs.)
  • Write an article and submit it to a respected Business Analysis website.

Take on recertification as a professional and personal challenge and have fun with your recertification experience. Once you document everything in your recertification application and receive approval, remember that your next 3-year journey is right around the corner.


In conclusion, this document should provide you with clear direction on how a CBAP can obtain the 60 CDUs needed for each CBAP recertification 3-year period, as well as earn 20 additional hours in the 3rd year of your recertification cycle to roll into the next 3-year renewal period.

Be sure to document all activities that you take part in during your 3-year recertification period (even if you go way over the 60 CDUs) because you may be audited. If the IIBA declares any of your activities reported do not count toward recertification, then you will have an extra cushion of reported CDUs.

I hope this guide to IIBA CBAP recertification provided you with a plan to help guide you to recertifying your CBAP certification CDUs every 3 years for minimal cost. 

Reference to IIBA Recertification Handbook

The IIBA Recertification Handbook was used as a reference guide while performing the document analysis necessary to write The Certified Business Analyst Professional Guide to IIBA CBAP Recertification. Here is a link to the official IIBA Recertification Handbook which I also recommend you read before submitting your recertification application.

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