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 data initiatives can be even harder — a challenge reflected in the rising demand for big data and analytics skills and certifications.
If you're looking to get an edge on a data analytics career, 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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The top 9 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)
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
- Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
- Open Certified Data Scientist
- 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 for INFORMS members; $695 for non-members. 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.
IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate is a beginner-level certificate that demonstrates an individual's skills in data science topics, including open source tools and libraries, methodologies, Python databases, SQL, data visualization, data analysis, and machine learning. Earning the certificate requires completing nine courses (taking roughly three months at 12 hours per week), during which the candidate will complete several hands-on assignments and build a portfolio of data science projects. At the end, candidates earn a Professional Certificate from Coursera and a digital badge from IBM recognizing proficiency in data science.
Price: $39 per month for access to graded materials and a certificate
How to prepare: No prior computer science or programming knowledge is necessary.
Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
The Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate credential is a measure of a candidate's ability to define and prepare Azure development environments, prepare data for modeling, perform feature engineering, and develop models. The exam requires the candidate to use applications involving natural language processing, speech, computer vision, and predictive analytics. The credential does not expire.
Price: $165 for the exam
How to prepare: Microsoft offers free online training and a paid, instructor-led course.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
The MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential demonstrates broad skillsets 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.
Open Certified Data Scientist
The Open CDS is an independent global certification that qualifies the skills, knowledge, and experience of data scientists. Open CDS requires candidates demonstrate their skills and experience against a set of conformance requirements through written applications and peer interviews. It does not include training courses and there are no written exams. Attaining the certification follows three stages: first, the candidate must obtain four to five milestone badges; second, the candidate must complete the Experience Application Form; finally, the candidate must attend a board review. The certification lasts for three years, after which the holder may re-certify.
Organization: The Open Group
Price: $1,250 upon application for certification; $250 upon application for re-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 Optimization
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.