Data and big data analytics are the lifeblood of any successful business. Getting the technology right can be challenging but building the right team with the right skills to undertake big data initiatives can be even harder. Not surprisingly, that challenge is reflected in the rising demand for big data skills and certifications.
If you're looking for a way to get an edge, big data certification is a great option. Certifications measure your knowledge and skills against industry- and vendor-specific benchmarks to prove to employers that you have the right skillset. The number of data analytics certs is expanding rapidly.
Below is our guide to the most sought after data analytics and big data certifications to help you decide which cert is right for you.
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Is data analytics and big data certification worth pursuing?
Organizations are on the hunt for data scientists and analysts with expertise in dealing with big data.
These skills are in high demand and are relatively rare. Individuals with the right mix of experience and skills can demand high salaries. The right certifications can help.
According to recent research by tech analyst firm Foote Partners, the explosion of interest in the internet of things (IoT) is creating large staffing deficits. IDC is predicting a 30 percent CAGR over the next five years, while McKinsey is expecting IoT to have a $4 trillion to $11 trillion global economic impact by 2025 as businesses look to IoT technologies to provide more insight.
Foote Partners believes advanced data analytics will be a major force driving the IoT. Foote notes that key advanced analytics skills in the IoT area include:
- Apache Hadoop and related modules (HDFS, HBase, Flume, Oozie, Hive, Pig, YARN)
- NoSQL and NewSQL
- Apache Spark
- Machine learning and data mining
"Advanced data analytics capabilities are just too critical for staying competitive," says David Foote, co-founder, chief analyst and chief research officer of Foote Partners. "They've expanded in popularity from a few industries to nearly every industry and market."
The top 7 data analytics and big data certifications
- Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences
- Certified Analytics Professional
- Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
- EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)
- MapR Certified Data Analyst
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
- SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9
Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences
The Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences is a non-degree program intended to develop facility with foundational data science skills. The program consists of four courses: Algorithms for Data Science, Probability & Statistics, Machine Learning for Data Science, and Exploratory Data Analysis and Visualization.
Organization: Columbia University
Price: $1,936 per credit (a minimum of 12 credits, including the four courses, are required to complete the program). In addition, there is an $85 non-refundable application fee for the on-campus program and $150 for the online program. The online program also includes an additional non-refundable technology fee of $395 per course.
How to prepare: An undergraduate degree and prior quantitative and introductory to computer programming coursework are required.
Certified Analytics Professional
The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) credential is a general analytics certification that certifies end-to-end understanding of the analytics process, from framing business and analytic problems to acquiring data, methodology, model building, deployment and model lifecycle management. It requires completion of the CAP exam and adherence to the CAP Code of Ethics.
Price: $495 if you are an INFORMS member, or $695 if you're not. Team pricing is available for organizations.
How to prepare: A list of study courses and a series of webinars are available through registration.
Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
A SQL developer who earns the CCA Data Analyst certification demonstrates core analyst skills to load, transform and model Hadoop data to define relationships and extract meaningful results from the raw output. It requires passing the CCA Data Analyst Exam (CCA159), a remote-proctored set of eight to 12 performance-based, hands-on tasks on a CDH 5 cluster. Candidates have 120 minutes to implement a technical solution for each task. They must analyze the problem and arrive at an optimal approach in the time allowed.
How to prepare: Cloudera recommends candidates take the Cloudera Data Analyst Training course, which has the same objectives as the exam.
EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)
The EMCDSA certification demonstrates an individual's ability to participate and contribute as a data science team member on big data projects. It includes deploying the data analytics lifecycle, reframing a business challenge as an analytics challenge, applying analytic techniques and tools to analyze big data and create statistical models, selecting the appropriate data visualizations and more.
Organization: Dell EMC Education Services
Price: $600 for video-ILT streaming; $5,000 for instructor-led
How to prepare: EMC offers a training course, available as either a video or an instructor-led course.
MapR Certified Data Analyst
The MapR Certified Data Analyst credential validates an individual's ability to perform analytics on large datasets using a variety of tools, including Apache Hive, Apache Pig and Apache Drill. The exam tests the ability to perform typical ETL tasks to manipulate data to perform queries. Questions touch on existing SQL queries, including debugging malformed queries from a given code snippet, choosing the correct query functions to produce a desired result, and typical troubleshooting tasks. The exam consists of 50-60 questions in a two-hour proctored session.
Organization: MapR Technologies
Price: $250 for the exam
How to prepare: MapR recommends candidates prepare with four of its courses: Introduction to SQL Analytics with Apache Drill, Apache Drill Performance and Debugging, Apache Hive Essentials, and Apache Pig Essentials. MapR also offers an MCDA Study Guide.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
The MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential demonstrates broad skill sets in SQL administration, building enterprise-scale data solutions, and leveraging business intelligence (BI) data in both on-premises and cloud environments. To earn the certification, candidates must pass one of 12 exams.
Price: $165 per exam
How to prepare: To pursue this credential, you must first earn one of seven Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MSCA) Certifications: MSCA SQL Server 2012/2014; MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration; MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development; MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development; MCSA Machine Learning; MCSA: BI Reporting; or MCSA: Data Engineering with Azure. Additionally, Microsoft offers preparation tools for each of the 12 exams that lead to the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification.
SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9
The SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9 credential demonstrates that individuals can manipulate and gain insights from big data with a variety of SAS and open source tools, make business recommendations with complex learning models, and then deploy models at scale using the SAS environment. The certification requires passing five exams that include multiple choice, short answer, and interactive questions (in a simulated SAS environment). The exams include:
- SAS Big Data Preparation, Statistics and Visual Exploration
- SAS Big Data Programming and Loading
- Predictive Modeling Using SAS Enterprise Miner 7, 13, or 14
- SAS Advanced Predictive Modeling
- SAS Text Analytics, Time Series, Experimentation and Optimazation
Price: $180 for each exam; $250 for Predictive Modeling Using SAS Enterprise Miner
How to prepare: SAS recommends candidates prepare using its SAS Data Science curriculum from SAS Academy for Data Science. It costs $4,400 for a self-paced e-learning course, or $16,000 for a 12-week instructor-led program in Cary, N.C.