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Our Guide to Business Analytics Certification and Certificate Programs

As influential companies utilize big data analytics to remain competitive in the market, they continue to call on business analytics professionals to help them turn the results of analysis into actionable insights. No surprise, then, that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects headcount in business analytics to grow by anywhere from 11% to 23% over the next decade. A testament to their current relevance, business analysts already earn well above the $58,260 the average American earned in 2021, with a median salary of almost $80,000 according to

If you’re someone who wants to become a business analyst, data analyst, or business intelligence analyst (or if you’re one of the vast majority of professionals who McKinsey believes will need to exercise their data literacy on a day-to-day basis by 2025), a business analytics certification or a business analytics certificate program might be just what you’re looking for. In this guide, we’ll break down the key business analytic skills, different use-cases for certifications and certificates, and give you some of our picks of programs we think can help you level-up your career.

What is business analytics?

According to industry journal CIO, business analytics is 

“the practical application of statistical analysis and technologies on business data to identify trends and predict business outcomes.”

Within the larger field of business analytics, business analysts extract insights from data in four main analytics subfields: 

  • Descriptive analytics, which focuses on what events have occurred in the past, such as how sales numbers compare year-over-year

  • Diagnostic analytics, which focuses on why certain events have occurred in the past, such as what conditions might be contributing to production inefficiencies

  • Predictive analytics, which focuses on what events might happen in the future, such as predicting consumer behaviors or market size

  • Prescriptive analytics, which focuses on recommending or automating actions a business should take, such as automating supply chain management

You can learn more about business analytics in our long-form piece. In the next section, we’ll dive into the skills necessary to succeed as a business analyst.

What skill set is required to work in business analytics?

Whether you’re a business analyst, a business intelligence analyst, or a data analyst, business analytics professionals share an interdisciplinary skill set comprising computer science, statistical analysis, data management, and data visualization skills, along with business acumen and soft skills.

Computer science

Professionals in the field of business analytics should have basic proficiency in running Excel formulas and scripting in SQL. To conduct more complex analytics, they must also possess the skills to write machine learning algorithms and train models using programming languages such as Python or R. For these advanced analytics, they should have a strong understanding of machine learning and deep learning libraries like Pandas and Tensorflow.

Statistical analysis

Statistical techniques like regression analysis, optimization, and cohort analysis are essential for business analytics. You can find full descriptions of these techniques and more, along with examples of each, in our data analytics explainer.

Data management

Business analytics professionals must be competent across the entire data pipeline, from data mining, to data wrangling and data cleansing, to data processing, to data storage.

Data visualization

Data visualization skills are crucial for business analytics professionals to be able to compellingly communicate insights to stakeholders. Tableau is a popular business analytics tool for creating graphs and other visualizations.

Business fundamentals

Being able to effectively communicate insights to stakeholders through data visualization is also a critical skill for professionals in business analytics. Tableau is a frequently used business analytics tool that enables the creation of compelling dashboards and other types of visualizations.

Soft skills

Crucial soft skills for business analytics include communication, critical thinking, project management, data storytelling, and, later on in the business analytics career path, leadership.

Now that we’ve covered the core skills for business analytics, we’ll move on to how certifications and certificates can help you build out your skill set and advertise it to potential employers.

What’s the difference between a business analyst certification and a business analytics certificate?

Despite their strikingly similar names, certifications and certifications differ in purpose and requirement. Here’s how:

Business analyst certification

A business analyst certification is intended to attest to mastery of a comprehensive business analytics skill set, one or several particular business analysis skills, software, or one area of business analytics such as customer analytics or agile analysis. A business analyst or business analytics certification is usually awarded after successful completion of an exam and may or may not be preceded by some sort of educational programming. These certification exams usually cost several hundred dollars and can be offered at testing sites or in an online proctored version.

USE: Business analyst certifications are a great way to demonstrate your skills and experience to potential employers, though they generally aren’t the first stop on your business analytics journey. Instead, it is best to pursue them after you have already completed another educational program such as a business analysis course or have been working as a business analyst for some time.

Business analytics certificate

A business analytics or business analysis certificate is awarded upon successful completion of a business analysis course that covers some or all of the skills needed for business analytics. Certificate programs vary widely in their modality and price. While some feature live faculty instruction and interaction between students, others are entirely self-paced and asynchronous. The cost of a business analytics certificate program generally depends on this modality and the reputation of the granting institution and can range from free to several thousand dollars.

USE: Business analytics certificate programs are great tools for those looking to upskill to advance their existing business analyst careers, transition into business analytics from a different field, or simply explore a business analytics career in a relatively low-risk environment.

Certification, certificate, or…degree?

If you’re looking into a career in business analytics, another option to keep in mind is a two- or four-year undergraduate or graduate degree. While these are substantially more expensive and time-intensive than a certificate, they have traditionally been thought of as the surest way to a high-paying professional career in a technical field. They can also unlock future opportunities in areas like data science, consulting, or even data engineering. Improving the financial calculus for many these days is the increasing number of online degrees, and particularly online master’s programs, on offer from universities and colleges.

To learn more about bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business analytics, see the following guides:

  • Business Analytics Degrees

  • Master’s in Business Analytics Programs

  • Online Master’s in Business Analytics Programs

If you are looking for a more intensive course of study than that offered by a business analytics certificate but aren’t ready to devote the time and money necessary for a traditional degree, you should also check out our guide to data analytics bootcamps.

Our picks for business analytics certifications and certificate programs

Below, we’ve listed our picks for business analytics certifications and certificate programs that, given their cost, curriculum, modality, and the reputation of the granting organization, we think can provide value for money for learners from a variety of backgrounds.

Business Analytics Certifications


IIBA Certifications

As the leading business analysis body, International Institute of Business Analysis certifications are the gold-standard of business analytics certifications. IIBA certification — and with it, the title of “Certified Business Analysis Professional” — is available to business analytics professionals with varying levels of business analysis experience, from entry-level, to two to three years of experience, to over five. The IIBA also provides business analysis certification exams in particular areas such as agile analysis, business data analytics, cybersecurity analysis, and product ownership.

  • Length: Self-paced

  • Modality: Online

  • Prerequisites: Varying degrees of business analysis experience and, for some certifications, a professional development requirement

  • Syllabus Highlights: N/A

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported

  • Cost: Between $150 and $400 for certification exam, application fee may apply

microsoft power bi logo mark

Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate

Microsoft’s Data Analyst Associate certification program primarily certifies an individual’s ability to use Microsoft’s Power BI software, but it covers many of the same skills — data preparation, data modeling, data visualization — as the other certifications on the list at a fraction of the cost. This certification can be particularly valuable because Power BI is a well-known and trusted business intelligence software. Certification, it follows, can make a candidate more attractive to a potential employer.

  • Length: Self-paced

  • Modality: Self-paced, online

  • Prerequisites: None

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Getting started with Microsoft data analytics,” “Model data in Power BI,” “Visualize data in Power BI”

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported

  • Cost: $165 for certification exam

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Amazon’s AWS Certified Data Analytics

Amazon’s AWS Data Analytics certification provides business and data analytics professionals with experience and expertise in using Amazon Web Services for data analytics the opportunity to earn a credential attesting to this. To become certified, students must pass an exam comprising both multiple choice and multiple response questions. Amazon provides a variety of free preparation materials, including sample questions, an exam guide, practice question sets, and digital training with an AWS skill builder.

  • Length: Self-paced training, 180 minute exam

  • Modality: Online

  • Prerequisites: 5 years of analytics experience; 2 years of hands-on experience with AWS for analytics

  • Syllabus Highlights: N/A

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported 

  • Cost: $300 for exam

CAP INFORMS certificate

INFORMS’ Certified Analytics Professional Certification

The Certified Analytics Professional certification (CAP) is an independent certification of one’s ability as a data analyst, though given the overlap between business analytics and data analytics, it can be just as valuable for a business analyst. For the exam, takers must have a college degree and a certain amount of experience in analytics, though an Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) certification is available for those without a degree and the requisite experience. In the CAP exam, analysts are tested in 7 areas: analytics problem framing, business problem framing, methodology selection, data, model building, deployment, and lifecycle management. To prepare for the exam, INFORMS provides free resources, sample tests, and an online prep course or bootcamp. Certifications are valid for three years.

  • Length: Self-paced training, 100 question exam

  • Modality: On site at a testing center or proctored online

  • Prerequisites: For CAP, college degree and 3-5 years of analytics experience; for aCAP, none

  • Syllabus Highlights: N/A

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported 

  • Cost: $495 INFORMS member, $695 non-member

Cloudera CDP

Cloudera’s CDP Data Analyst Certification

Cloudera’s CDP Data Analyst Certification offers exam-takers the opportunity to demonstrate expertise in Cloudera products such as Cloudera Data Visualization and Cloudera Machine Learning as well as SQL and Apache. Before taking the online, proctored exam, students can prepare through Cloudera Educational Services’ comprehensive suite of courses.

  • Length: Self-paced training, 120 minute exam

  • Modality: Online, proctored

  • Prerequisites: Knowledge of Salesforce, business intelligence tools, spreadsheets, and Python or R

  • Syllabus Highlights:  N/A

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported 

  • Cost: $300 for exam

Business Analytics Certificate Programs

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Harvard Business School Online’s Business Analytics Certificate

HBS Online’s Business Analytics Certificate course in self-paced instruction covering basic Excel functions, hypothesis testing, and regression that leverages Harvard’s case method to provide helpful business context. While the course is self-paced, each module is taken in lock-step with others, providing the opportunity for a high level of interactivity.

  • Length: 8 weeks, 5 hours per week

  • Modality: Self-paced, online

  • Prerequisites: None

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Sampling and Estimation,” “Single Variable Linear Regression,” “Multiple Regression”

  • Reported Outcomes: None

  • Cost: $1,750

wharton icon

Wharton Executive Education’s Business Analytics: From Data to Insights

Wharton Executive Education’s Business Analytics: From Data to Insights gives an overview of analytics geared towards helping executives, managers, and consultants improve their own analytics skills, implement data operations, and better serve their clients.

  • Length: 9 weeks, 6-8 hours per week

  • Modality: Self-paced and live, online

  • Prerequisites: None reported

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Descriptive Analytics: Describing and Forecasting Future Events,” “Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics: Application and Toolkit,” “Application of Analytics for Business”

  • Reported Outcomes: None reported

  • Cost: $2,750


eCornell Certificate Program: Business Analytics

In a departure from the usual business analytics course or certificate program, Cornell’s Business Analytics certificate program offers a business analytics curriculum focused on advanced use of Excel to extract business insights from data sets, including using prescriptive and predictive analytics.

  • Length: 3 months, 3-5 hours per week

  • Modality: Self-paced, online

  • Prerequisites: Basic understanding of Excel

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Harvesting Spreadsheet Data,” “Making Predictions and Forecasts with Data,” “Leadership Symposium”

  • Reported outcomes: None reported 

  • Cost: $3,750

google logo of the G

Google Data Analytics Certificate

Google’s Data Analytics Certificate teaches students job-ready skills to help them obtain an entry-level job offer with one of the 150 members of an employer consortium that includes SiriusXM, Target, Snapchat, and Verizon. Over 7 courses, students learn core data analytics skills that include data cleansing, data analysis, data visualization, and R programming. At the end, students apply these skills through a capstone project.

  • Length: 6 months, under 10 hours of study per week

  • Modality: Self-paced, online

  • Prerequisites: None

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Ask Questions to Make Data-Driven Decisions,” “Analyze Data to Answer Questions,” “Share Data Through the Art of Visualization,” “Data Analysis with R Programming”

  • Reported Outcomes: 75% of graduates report career improvement

  • Cost: $39/month of attendance on Coursera

columbia seal

Columbia University’s Data, Models and Decisions in Business Analytics

Data, Models and Decisions in Business Analytics, offered by Columbia University on edX, provides instruction in fundamental analytics concepts to help professionals improve their data-driven decision-making. Topics include regression, stochastic modeling, and optimization. Students can audit the course for free or pay to receive a certificate at the end.

  • Length: 12 weeks, 8-10 hours per week

  • Modality: Self-paced, online

  • Prerequisites: foundational knowledge of probability, statistics, and linear algebra, and ability to program with Python

  • Syllabus Highlights: “Estimation: sampling, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing,” “Regression: linear regression, dummy variables, applications,” “Dynamic Optimization: decision trees”

  • Reported Outcomes: None

  • Cost: Free (audit), $249 (verified track)

What’s next?

In this guide, we’ve covered why you would pursue a business analytics certification or certificate and the different options out there. Your next step?  If you find a program interesting, click through to learn more. If you want to know more about business analytics career possibilities before committing to a program, check out the following articles: