8 business intelligence certifications to advance your BI career

From BI analysts and BI developers to BI architects and BI directors, business intelligence pros are in high demand. Here are eight certifications that could give your career an edge.

With data increasingly vital to business success, business intelligence (BI) continues to grow in importance. With a strong BI strategy and team, organizations can perform the kinds of analysis necessary to help users make data-driven business decisions.

BI encompasses numerous roles. BI analysts, with an average salary of $69,078 according to PayScale, provide application analysis and data modeling design for centralized data warehouses and extract data from databases and data warehouses for reporting, among other tasks. BI developers, with an average salary of $80,237, work with databases and software to develop and fine-tune IT solutions. BI architects, with an average salary of $111,824, analyze and implement BI for their organizations, with responsibilities that range from determining platforms to building and maintaining data warehouses. BI directors, with an average salary of $129,143 per year, lead design and development activities related to the enterprise data warehouse.

In its quarterly IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index report released in August, research firm Foote Partners notes that the average pay premium for tech certifications is at a seven-year low, having decreased more than 2 percent between April and June. The premium for data/database certs has fared better but also declined. Foote Partners noted that online retailers, in particular, have focused their recruiting on business intelligence skills among other areas.. Overall, premiums for single certifications are boosting base salaries by 6.9 percent, according to Foote Partners.

The Robert Half Technology 2020 Salary Guide found that 67 percent of IT managers were looking to expand their teams in areas such as business intelligence, but 89 percent were reporting challenges in recruiting talent.

Certifications are not required to work in BI, but they may help you get an edge by proving to employers that you have the right skillset. Below is our guide to some of the most sought-after BI certifications.

Top 8 business intelligence certifications

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional
  • IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11
  • Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
  • QlikView Business Analyst
  • SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2
  • SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics 7.5/8.3
  • Tableau Desktop Certified Professional
  • Tableau Server Certified Professional

Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)

The CBIP certification program is intended for senior-level personnel in the information systems and technology industry with a focus on data management and business analytics. The cert demonstrates that you are up-to-date with BI technologies and are knowledgeable about best practices, solutions, and emerging trends. You will need two or more years of full-time experience in computer information systems, data modeling, data planning, data definitions, metadata systems development, enterprise resource planning, systems analysis, application development and programming, or information technology management. The initial certification is valid for four years and must be renewed every three years thereafter. Recertification requires proof of 120 credit hours of continuing education earned since the last renewal.

The certification has two levels:

  • Practitioner: Awarded to BI professionals who score at or above 50 percent on each of three exams.
  • Master: Awarded to BI professionals who score at or above 70 percent on each of three exams.

Organization: Transforming Data With Intelligence (TDWI)

Exam fee: $400 per exam; additional $125 annual fee to the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) each year after the first

IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11

The IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11 certification demonstrates your ability to build advanced reports, active reports, and dashboards using relational data and/or uploaded files, as well as enhancing, customizing, and managing professional reports. Candidates should have basic knowledge of database concepts and SQL, how to visually present data, and JavaScript. The certification requires passing the IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11 exam delivered by Pearson VUE.

Organization: IBM

Exam fee: $100 to $200

Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate

The Microsoft Certified Data Analyst Associate certification validates candidates are subject matter experts that can design and build scalable data models, clean and transform data, and provide business value via data visualizations. The certification is intended for data professionals and business intelligence (BI) professionals who use Power BI to develop reports and dashboards that visualize data, whether in the cloud or on premises. The certification requires passing the Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI certification exam administered via Pearson VUE. The exam measures the candidate's ability to prepare data, visualize data, analyze data, and deploy and maintain deliverables.

Organization: Microsoft

Exam fee: $165

QlikView Business Analyst

The QlikView Business Analyst certification demonstrates your knowledge of interface design of QlikView applications and is recommended for roles involved in the analysis, design, and layout of the QlikView application user interface. Candidates must have a basic knowledge of BI, reporting, and data analysis, as well as experience working with QlikView to design applications. The certification requires passing a multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE via a Pearson VUE Test Center or in your home/office using online proctoring. The certification does not expire, though Qlik releases new exams for every major release, so old certifications do "age out."

Organization: Qlik

Exam fee: $250

SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2

The SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform certification demonstrates you have the skills and knowledge to design for, deploy, and run SAP’s BI platform. This certification shows you can configure and manage servers in an SAP Business Intelligence platform deployment, and design and deploy an SAP Business Intelligence platform system. SAP recommends candidates combine hands-on experience and education courses to prepare for the required multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE. The certification does not expire.

Organization: SAP

Exam fee: $597

SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics 7.5/8.3

The SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics 7.5/8.3 certification is intended for analysts who use Visual Analytics to analyze data and design reports. It validates your skill in using SAS Visual Analytics to add and manipulate data items, analyze data, and design and share reports. It requires a passing score on the SAS Visual Analytics 7.5/8.3 Analysis and Design exam administered by SAS and Pearson VUE. The exam consists of 55-60 multiple-choice, short-answer, and interactive questions.

Organization: SAS

Exam fee: $180

Tableau Desktop Certified Professional

The Tableau Desktop Certified Professional certification is for individuals with considerable experience with Tableau (recommended 12 or more months of experience) who wish to demonstrate their mastery of advanced functionality of Tableau and application of visual best practices. The certification requires you to hold the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate certification and pass an exam. The certification is valid for three years.

Organization: Tableau

Exam fee: $600

Tableau Server Certified Professional

The Tableau Server Certified Professional certification is for individuals with considerable experience with Tableau Server (recommended nine or more months of experience) who wish to demonstrate their architectural knowledge and platform integration expertise. The certification requires you to hold the Tableau Server Qualified Associate certification and pass an exam. The certification is valid for three years.

Organization: Tableau

Exam fee: $800

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