When starting out in business analysis I did a few courses with the company I worked for at the time, this was around late 90’s early 00’s. These were internal training courses with no exams or certifications at the end but they were very useful at the time. Some were basic skills like time management, and presentation skills and some were more technical like the Project Management and the Business Analysis courses, my favorite one was a team awareness and team building type course. that was really good fun, We studied team dynamics and did Briggs Myers stuff.
The first course I did with an actual exam at the end was a project management course. In the UK, in the field I normally work in, most people think of the PRINCE2 certification. Now this is a very well recognised, CV enhancing qualification, however in my opinion I prefer the Association of Project Management (APM) certification. The APM course I did years ago was very practical based, really explained why you were doing certain steps, and it covered a really broad range of topics; from selecting the right team of people, negotiating skills, working the financials on a project, etc. Every aspect of a project was covered and many of the things I learned I transferred to my life outside of work.
The first actual Business Analyst qualifications I looked at were the ones run by the British Computer Society, the ISEB, As a starting for a new BA I can’t recommend the Foundation Level certificate enough. It is very easy to self study for, you only need this book: Business Analysis. From the foundation level the BCS offer a number of different certificates that eventually build to a diploma.
For the more seasoned BA the International Institute of Business Analysis offer two certifications, both requiring not only technical knowledge but also require you to demonstrate a number of hours of actual practical experience with a client or employer. In my field this does not seem to be a widely recognised certification but this will change. For me it is the whole process of self-development that is actually important anyway, it’s not just putting an extra line in your CV.
Finally although training gives you tools it’s knowing how to use the tools in the real world that makes the difference between a good BA and a bad one. So when starting out seek any opportunity to use the techniques and practice them.