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15 data science certifications that will pay off

Looking to get ahead as a data scientist? Earning one of these data science certs will help you stand out in one of the hottest careers in IT.

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Data scientist is one of the hottest jobs in IT. Companies are increasingly reliant on data and are eager to hire data professionals who can make sense of the information the business collects. If you are looking to get into this lucrative field, or want to stand out against the competition, certification can be key.

Data science certifications are a great way to gain an edge because they allow you to develop skills that are hard to find in your desired industry. They're also a way to validate your skills, so recruiters and hiring managers know what they’re getting if they hire you.

Whether you’re looking to earn a certification from an accredited university, gain experience as a new grad, hone vendor-specific skills or demonstrate your knowledge of data analytics, the following certifications (presented in alphabetical order) will work for you.

Top 15 data science certifications

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
  • Cloudera Certified Professional (CCP) Data Engineer
  • Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Senior Data Scientist (SDS)
  • Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Principle Data Scientist (PDS)
  • Dell EMC Data Science Track (EMCDS)
  • Google Professional Data Engineer Certification
  • IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate
  • Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS)
  • SAS Certified AI & Machine Learning Professional
  • SAS Certified Big Data Professional
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist
  • Tensorflow Developer Certificate

Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) is a vendor-neutral certification that validates your ability to “transform complex data into valuable insights and actions,” which is exactly what businesses are looking for in a data scientist: someone who understands data, can draw logical conclusions and express to key stakeholders why those data points are significant. You’ll need to apply and meet certain criteria before you can take the CAP or the associate level aCAP exams. To qualify for the CAP certification exam, you’ll need three years of related experience if you have an master’s in a related field, five years of related experience if you hold a bachelor’s in a related field, and seven years of experience if you have any degree unrelated to analytics. To qualify for the aCAP exam you will need a master’s degree and less than three years of related experience in data or analytics.

Cost:  CAP exam: $495 for INFORMS members, $695 for non-members; aCAP exam: $200 for INFORMS members, $300 for non-members
Location: In person at designated test centers
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Valid for three years

Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst

The Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst certification demonstrates your ability as a SQL developer to pull and generate reports in Cloudera’s CDH environment using Impala and Hive. SQL developer skills will allow you to pull, model, manage, analyze and work with data right from the source as a data scientist. During the 120-minute exam, you’ll be given eight to 12 customer problems with a unique data set and a CDH cluster. You’ll be tested on your ability to analyze each question and then decide how best to “implement a technical solution with a high degree of precision.”

Cost: $295 per exam specialty and per attempt
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Valid for two years

Cloudera Certified Professional (CCP) Data Engineer

Cloudera touts its Certified Professional (CCP) Data Engineer certification as one of the most rigorous and “demanding performance-based certifications.” Those looking to earn their CCP Data Engineer certification should have in-depth experience in data engineering and a “high-level of mastery” of common data science skills, according to Cloudera. The exam consists of five to 10 performance-based hands-on tasks on a pre-configured Cloudera Enterprise cluster. The exam lasts four hours and you’ll need to earn a 70 percent or higher to pass.

Cost: $400 per attempt — each attempt includes three exams
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Valid for three years

Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Senior Data Scientist (SDS)

The Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Senior Data Scientist (SDS) certification program is designed for professionals with five or more years of experience in research and analytics. It’s recommended that students have knowledge of databases, spreadsheets, statistical analytics, SPSS/SAS, R, quantitative methods, and the fundamentals of object-oriented programming and RDBMS. The program includes five tracks that will appeal to different candidates — each track has different requirements in terms of degree-level, work experience and prerequisites to apply. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and more than five years of experience in data science to be eligible for each track, while other tracks require a master’s degree or past certifications.

Cost: $650
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: 5 years

Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Principal Data Scientist (PDS) 

The Data Science Council of America (DASCA) offers the Principal Data Scientist (PDS) certification, which includes three tracks for data science professionals with 10 or more years of experience in big data. The exam covers everything from fundamental to advanced data science concepts such as big data best practices, business strategies for data, building cross-organizational support, machine learning, natural language processing, scholastic modeling and more. The exam is designed for “seasoned and high-achiever Data Science thought- and practice leaders.”

Cost: $850, track 1; $850, track 2; $300, Track 3; $950, track 4
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

Dell EMC Data Science Track (EMCDS)

The Dell EMC Data Scientist Track (EMCDS) includes two programs — the Data Science Associate v2 (DCS-DS) certification and the Data Science Specialist (DCS-DS) certification. At the associate level, you’ll cover the foundations of data science and big data analytics — the courses can be completed in-person or online. Once you complete the associate-level program, you can move onto the specialist-level which covers topics such as natural language processing, advanced analytical methods, Hadoop, Pig, Hive, HBase and visualization methods.

Cost: $230 per exam
Location: In-person or online via Pearson VUE
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Does not expire

Google Professional Data Engineer Certification

The Google Professional Data Engineer certification is best suited for those with foundational knowledge of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and experience designing and managing solutions using GCP. The exam will test your abilities with designing, building, securing and operationalizing machine learning models and data processing systems. It’s recommended to have at least three years of industry experience, including one year or more of designing and managing solutions using GCP.

Cost: $200
Location: Online
Duration: Two hours
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

IBM Data Science Professional Certificate

The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate consists of nine courses in data science, open source tools, data science methodology, Python, Databases and SQL, data analysis, data visualization, machine learning and a final applied data science capstone. The course takes place online through Coursera with a flexible schedule and takes an average of three months to complete, but you are free to take more or less time. The course includes hands-on projects to help you build a portfolio to showcase your data science talents to potential employers.

Cost: Free
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals

Microsoft’s Azure AI Fundamentals certification validates your knowledge of machine learning and artificial intelligence concepts and how they relate to Microsoft Azure services. It’s a fundamentals exam, so you don’t need extensive experience to pass the exam. It’s a good place to start if you are new to AI or AI on Azure and want to demonstrate your skills and knowledge to employers.

Cost: $99
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate

The Azure Data Scientist Associate certification from Microsoft focuses your ability to utilize machine learning to implement and run machine learning workloads on Azure. Candidates for the exam are tested on ML, AI solutions, NLP, computer vision and predictive analytics. You will need to be skilled in deploying and managing resources, managing identities and governance, implementing and managing storage, and configuring and managing virtual networks.

Cost: $165
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS)

The Open Group Professional Certification Program for the Data Scientist Professional (Open CDS) is an experience-based certification without any traditional training courses or exams. You’ll start at level one as a Certified Data Scientist, then you can move to level two where you’ll become a Master Certified Data Scientist and finally, you can pass the third level to become a Distinguished Certified Data Scientist. Certification requires a three-step process that includes applying for the certification, completing the experience application form and attending a board review.

Cost: Contact for pricing
Location: On-site
Duration: Varies by level
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

SAS Certified AI & Machine Learning Professional

The AI and Machine Learning Professional certification from SAS demonstrates your ability to use open source tools to gain insight from data using AI and analytics skills. The certification consists of several exams that cover topics such as machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision and model forecasting and optimization. You’ll need to pass the SAS Certified Specialist exams in Machine Learning, Forecasting and Optimization and Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision to earn the AI & Machine Learning professional designation.

Cost: $180 per exam
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

SAS Certified Big Data Professional

The SAS Big Data Professional certification includes two modules with a total of nine courses. You’ll need to pass two exams to earn the designation. The course covers SAS programming skills, working with data, improving data quality, communication skills, fundamentals of statistics and analytics, data visualization and popular data tools such as Hadoop, Hive, Pig and SAS. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need at least six months of programming experience in SAS or another language.

Cost: $180 per exam
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

SAS Certified Data Scientist

The SAS Certified Data Scientist certification is a combination of the other two data certifications offered through SAS. It covers programming skills, managing and improving data, transforming, accessing and manipulating data and how to work with popular data visualization tools. Once you earn both the Big Data Professional and Advance Analytics Professional certifications, you can qualify to earn your SAS Certified Data Scientist designation. You’ll need to complete all 18 courses and pass the five exams between the two separate certifications.

Cost: $180 per exam
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

TensorFlow Developer Certificate

The TensorFlow Developer Certificate program is a “foundational certificate for students, developers and data scientists who want to demonstrate practical machine learning skills through the building and training of models using TensorFlow.” The exam tests your knowledge of and ability to integrate machine learning into various tools and applications. To pass the exam you will need to be experienced with the foundational principles of ML and deep learning, building ML models, image recognition algorithms, deep neural networks and natural language processing.

Cost: $100 per exam
Location: Online
Duration: Self-paced
Expiration: Credentials do not expire

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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