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26 big data certifications that will pay off

Data scientists, data analysts and data engineers are in high demand. Here are the certifications that will give your career an edge.

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Hortonworks Certified Associate (HCA)

The Hortonworks Certified Associate (HCA) certification is a foundational credential that validates that an individual understands the technologies and can recognize the business use cases for Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) frameworks. Candidates must pass a multiple-choice exam that consists of questions from the following five categories:

  • Data access (including Pig, Hive HCatalog, Tez, Storm, HBase, Spark and Solr)
  • Data management (including HDFS and YARN)
  • Data governance and workflow (including Falcon, Atlas, Sqoop, Flume, Kafka and Hortonworks DataFlow)
  • Operations (including Ambari, CloudBreak, ZooKeeper and Oozie)
  • Security (including Ranger and Knox)

Organization: Hortonworks

Price: $100 for exam

How to prepare: Hortonworks offers courses on its website with options that include live training, self-paced e-learning or a blended experience.

IBM Certified Data Architect – Big Data

Designed for data architects, the IBM Certified Data Architect – Big Data certification requires passing a test that consists of five sections containing a total of 55 multiple-choice questions. It demonstrates a data architect can work closely with customers and solutions architects to translate customers' business requirements into a big data solution.

Organization: IBM Professional Certification Program

Price: $200

How to prepare: IBM recommends a series of seven multi-day courses on SPSS Modeler to InfoSphere BigInsights to prepare for the test.

IBM Certified Data Engineer – Big Data

The IBM Certified Data Engineer – Big Data certification is intended for big data engineers, who work directly with data architects and hands-on developers to convert an architect's big data vision into reality. Data engineers understand how to apply technologies to solve big data problems and have the ability to build large-scale data processing systems for the enterprise. They develop, maintain, test and evaluate big data solutions within organizations, providing architects with input on needed hardware and software. This certification requires passing a test that consists of five sections containing a total of 53 multiple-choice questions.

Organization: IBM Professional Certification Program

Price: $200

How to prepare: IBM recommends a series of nine multi-day courses to prepare for the test.

MapR Certified Data Analyst 1.9

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.

MapR Certified Hadoop Developer 1.0

The MapR Certified Hadoop Developer credential validates a developer's ability to design and develop MapReduce programs in Java and use them to solve typical problems with large data sets. The exam focuses on the use of MapReduce to solve typical data analysis problems using the MapReduce API, managing, monitoring, and testing MapReduce programs and workflows. 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 three of its courses: Build Hadoop MapReduce Applications, Manage and Test Hadoop MapReduce Applications, and Launch Jobs and Advanced Hadoop MapReduce. MapR also offers an MCHD Study Guide.

MapR Certified Spark Developer 2.1

The MapR Certified Spark v2.1 Developer credential validates a developer's ability to use Spark to work with large datasets to perform analytics on streaming data. It measures the developer's understanding of the Spark API to perform basic machine learning or SQL tasks on given datasets. 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 three of its courses: Introduction to Apache Spark, Build and Monitor Apache Spark Applications, and Advanced Apache Spark. MapR also offers an MCSD v2 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.

Organization: Microsoft

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.

Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate

Designed for software engineers, statisticians, predictive modelers, market researchers, analytics professionals, and data miners, the Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate requires four courses and demonstrates mastery of efficient, powerful techniques and algorithms for extracting information from large datasets like the Web, social network graphs and large document repositories. The certificate usually takes one to two years to complete.

Organization: Stanford Center for Professional Development

Price: $18,900 tuition

How to prepare: A Bachelor's degree with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better is required. Applicants should have knowledge of basic computer science principles and skills, at a level sufficient to write a reasonably non-trivial computer program.

MongoDB Certified DBA Associate

The MongoDB Certified DBA Associate credential is intended to demonstrate that operations professionals understand the concepts and mechanics required to administrate MongoDB. It requires a 90 minute, multiple choice exam.

Organization: MongoDB University

Price: $150

How to prepare: There are no prerequisites, but MongoDB suggests candidates complete an in-person training or one of its online courses (M102: MongoDB for DBAs; M202: MongoDB Advanced Deployment Operations). MongoDB also provides the MongoDB Certification Exam Study Guide, available to those who have registered for a certification exam.

MongoDB Certified Developer Associate

The MongoDB Certified Developer Associate credential is intended for software engineers who want to demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamentals of designing and building applications using MongoDB. It requires a 90 minute, multiple choice exam.

Organization: MongoDB University

Price: $150

How to prepare: There are no prerequisites, but MongoDB suggests candidates complete an in-person training or one of its online courses (M101J: MongoDB for Java Developers; M101JS: MongoDB for Node.js Developers; M101N: MongoDB for .NET Developers; M101P: MongoDB for Developers). MongoDB also provides the MongoDB Certification Exam Study Guide, available to those who have registered for a certification exam.

Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11 Certified Implementation Specialist

The Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist certification demonstrates skills in implementing solutions based on Oracle Business Intelligence Suite. It covers installing Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), building the BI Server metadata repository, building BI dashboards, constructing ad hoc queries, defining security settings, and configuring and managing cache files. The certification is intended for intermediate-level implementation team members with up-to-date training and field experience. Earning the certification requires passing the Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI) Foundation Suite 11g Essentials exam (1Z0-591). It's a multiple choice exam that consists of 75 questions. Candidates have 120 minutes to complete the exam.

Organization: Oracle University

Price: $245

How to prepare: Oracle recommends candidates complete one of two training courses: Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition Plus Implementation Boot Camp (only available to partners), or Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation 11g Implementation Specialist.

Post Graduate Program (PGP) in Big Data Analytics

Offered in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, India, the PGP in Big Data Analytics is a 23-weekend program spread over six months that consists of classroom-based lecture and lab sessions. It focuses on statistics, machine learning, text analysis, AI and decision sciences, and big data.

It consists of 10 courses (lectures and labs) covering all aspects of analytics, including R and Hadoop skills, statistical modeling, data analytics, machine learning, text mining and optimization. Students are evaluated on a real-world capstone project and a series of tests and mini-projects.

Organization: International School of Engineering (INSOFE)

Price:₹3000 (INR) application fee and a program fee of ₹3,50,000 + 18 percent service tax.

How to prepare: INSOFE admits students based on performance on its entrance exam and prior academic background and work experience.

SAS Certified Big Data Professional

The SAS Certified Big Data Professional certification program is for individuals seeking to build on their basic programming knowledge by learning how to gather and analyze big data in SAS. The program focuses on SAS programming skills; accessing, transforming and manipulating data; improving data quality for reporting and analytics; fundamentals of statistics and analytics; working with Hadoop, Hive, Pig and SAS; and exploring and visualizing data. The program includes two certification exams, both of which the participants must pass.

Organization: SAS Academy for Data Science

Price: $9,000 for classroom (Cary, NC), $299/month or $2,250/year for self-paced e-learning.

How to prepare: At least six months of programming experience in SAS or another programming language is required to enroll.

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

Organization: SAS

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.

Stanford Data Mining and Applications Graduate Certificate

The Data Mining and Applications Graduate Certificate certifies the ability to:

  • Use statistical methods to extract meaning from large datasets
  • Develop and use predictive models and analytics
  • Understand and use strategic decision-making applications

Geared at strategy managers, scientific researchers, social sciences researchers, data analysts and consultants, and advertising and marketing executives, the certificate requires candidates complete three courses, starting with either Data Mining and Analysis or Introduction to Statistical Learning. The first course must be completed with a B+ or better and the other courses must be completed with a B or better to earn the certificate award. It takes an average of one to two years to complete the certificate.

Organization: Stanford Center for Professional Development

Price: $11,340 - $12,600 (9-10 units)

How to prepare: To pursue the graduate certificate, candidates must have taken introductory courses in statistics or probability, linear algebra, and computer programming. The candidate also requires a conferred Bachelor's degree with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or better.

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