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New Year, New Me? Professional Development Tips for 2021

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It’s a new year and maybe you have been thinking about upskilling and business analysis certification. With a new year comes a fresh start and a brand-new approach to your goals for the year. If career growth, learning a new skill or professional development is one of your top goals for 2021, you are not alone. 


New Year, New Me? Professional Development Tips for 2021


Learning a new skill, studying for that certification, or reaching for the next level in your career is usually among the most popular of new year resolutions. Not only is it a noble goal, with the COVID-19 pandemic last year we saw a sharp rise in learning, professional development, and certifications.

New Year's Resolutions

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From April to June 2020, IIBA® saw a significant increase in certifications with nearly a 70% increase in both CCBA® and CBAP® exams and almost a 40% increase in ECBA™ exams compared to this period last year2. Additionally, in March and April 2020, LinkedIn Learning experienced its largest spike in history, as employees spent 130% more time learning than they had in the first two months of the year3.  

LinkedIn Learning’s Amy Borsetti stated “With COVID-19 and all of its power, we’re starting to see employees having to really upskill and re-skill in what is now a very virtual environment that we’re all in.”  

Here’s another key insight, according to the 2020 IIBA Global Salary Survey 23% of professionals said certification helped them in finding a job. With certification improving marketability and earning potential it’s no wonder why it’s a top goal, but how do you make that goal more achievable this year? As you begin to prepare or think about certification, there are “tried, tested and true” study tips and techniques that can help you feel more prepared with taking on this goal.  

In IIBA’s recent webinar Study Smarter, Not Harder: ECBA Certification presenters Dr. Michael F. White, Founder, BA Doctor, and Isabel Feher-Watters, Certification Programs Manager at IIBA® broke down some proven study strategies, the "5 W's of studying" to aid in the preparation of achieving your certification.  


5 W's of Studying – Who, What, Where, When, Why? 

1. WHO is Studying? 

First, determine your study style, is it auditory, visual, or kinesthetic? 

Learning Types

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2. WHAT to Study?
  • Get familiar with the materials:
    • Knowledge Areas / Tasks
    • Underlying Competencies / Core Competencies
    • Techniques  
3. WHERE to Study? 
  • What works best for your learning style?
    • Home office
    • Library
    • Coffee shop
    • Morning commute (e.g., auditory learners) 
4. WHEN to Study? 
  • Ask yourself:
    • When do I have chunks of time to myself?
    • Will I have to create these chunks of time?
    • How many days a week can I fit in these chunks?
  • Plan out your weekly study schedule:
    • For ECBA, assume approximately 60 to 100 study hours per week. 
5. WHY am I Studying? 
  • Create SMART goals for studying:
    • S – Specific
    • M – Measurable
    • A – Achievable
    • R – Relevant 
    • T – Timebound 
Other great study tips include creating a study plan, take it one knowledge area at a time, know your learning objectives, only focus on what’s important, filter out extraneous content and summarize, summarize, summarize! 

So, are you ready to get started on those new year goals? A great place to start is with IIBA’s Entry Certificate in Business Analysis™. Learn more here.   


Upcoming Webinar: Unleash Your Potential in 2021 with ECBA

New year, new me they say! It’s 2021 and you're ready to power up your business analysis career. In this panel discussion, we will tackle the most commonly asked questions on ECBA from eligibility requirements to professional development hours and more. 




About The Author:
Tiffani Iacolino

Tiffani Iacolino is a Product Marketing Manager at IIBA® and has 15+ years of marketing experience across the legal, technology, telecommunications, publishing, media, and professional services industries. She’s passionate about delivering meaningful products and solutions to the business analysis community, including IIBA’s latest offering the Cybersecurity Analysis Learning and Certification Program. Hailing from the Greater Toronto Area, she enjoys an amazing cup of coffee, running, and yoga -- between chasing her two adorable children! 


  2. 2020 IIBA Global Business Analysis Salary Survey