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Cloudera Big Data Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Cloudera Big Data Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Big data means big business. Countless companies are digging into data acquisition, storage, analysis and trend-spotting on a scope and scale unlike anything ever undertaken before. And along with those companies, a new generation of software platforms, analysis tools and related professional skills and knowledge is presenting unparalleled opportunities for interesting and high-paying work for IT professionals with the "right stuff" to play on the big data field. Cloudera remains on our list as one of the top big data certification providers, and Hadoop certification as one of the top four big data platforms in use today.

Cloudera is a company that specializes in megadata collections built around the Apache Hadoop platform to create what it calls "enterprise data hubs." Hubs enable customers to create information-driven organizations, where Cloudera provides an "enterprise-ready data management platform" that’s designed to provide "all the tools you need to extract the most value from your data" (Customer Insights page, Cloudera.com).

Although Hadoop is a free, open source platform, Cloudera adds substantial value by providing strong security, policy-driven data governance, formal system management, and lots of important system integration to bring all the data sources together under its umbrella. Cloudera offers enterprise and express versions of its Cloudera Distribution. This includes Apache Hadoop, usually abbreviated CDH, with varying license models. It provides a no-charge, unsupported download of core CDH software, too.

Cloudera invented itself around a clutch of high-flying super geeks, including Amr Adwallah, who built one of the first-ever business units based upon Hadoop analysis for Yahoo! Jeff Hammerbacher did likewise for Facebook, for analysis of that company's humongous collections of user data. Other Cloudera heavyweights include Doug Cutting, the software architect who wrote the initial version of Hadoop in 2004, and Oracle executive Mike Olson.

Cloudera has been doing business since 2009. It continues to attract a growing base of high-profile customers. The company has experienced substantial growth, earning recognition as one of the fastest growing companies in North America on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500. For Q4 of the company’s 2018 fiscal year, it reported a 42 percent increase over earnings for the same quarter in its previous year. Estimates of Cloudera's overall valuation range as high as $5 billion.

Cloudera's comprehensive view of the importance of qualified big data talent shines through the architecture and elements of the company's current certification offerings. The company currently offers four professional certifications at two levels.

Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA):

  • CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer
  • CCA Administrator
  • CCA Data Analyst

Cloudera Certified Professional (CCP):

  • CCP Data Engineer

The Cloudera certification program not only aims to provide companies and organizations with skilled data analysis professionals, but it also seeks to cover needs for administration and development expertise to support robust Apache Hadoop infrastructures around the Cloudera platform.

Cloudera Certified Associate Spark and Hadoop Developer

Cloudera's CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer credential targets professionals who are responsible for coding, maintaining and optimizing Apache Hadoop projects. Candidates must have the skills to transfer data between external and internal systems, convert data values, use Spark SQL to interact with datasets, and configure applications from the command line.

A performance-based exam (CCA175) is required to obtain the CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer; it costs $295 and includes 10 to 12 problems that the candidate must solve in 120 minutes. While there are no formal prerequisites, candidates must know how to code in Python and Scala and run code on a CDH5 cluster. To maintain their certification status, candidates must re-test every 2 years.

Cloudera's  CCA Administrator aims at IT professionals charged with configuring, deploying, maintaining and securing Cloudera Enterprise clusters for production or other enterprise uses.

A single exam (CCA131) is required to obtain the credential, which costs $295. Skills tested include HDFS, Cloudera Manager, Hadoop cluster planning, configuration, installation and administration, resource management, and logging and monitoring. CCAH credentials are valid for 2 years.

Cloudera's CCA Data Analyst recognizes professionals who query datasets and generate reports using Impala and Hive in Cloudera's CDH environment.

Candidates must pass one performance-based exam (CCA159) to earn the credential, which costs $295. The exam includes 8 to 12 problems the candidate must solve on a CDH5 cluster, from preparing data for queries to using Query Language (QL) to analyze data on the cluster. Like other CCA credentials, the CCA Data Analyst is valid for 2 years.

Cloudera's Certified Professional Data Engineer (CCP Data Engineer) targets individuals capable of developing solutions for big data.

The CCP Data Engineer exam is a practical exam consisting of a set of five to eight problems. The exam is designed to test skills required for successful data engineers, including workflow-oriented tasks, data analysis (ability to write various queries as well as create and read HCatalog and Hive tables from HDFS data), converting data values into new formats and rewriting to HCatalog, Hive or HDFS, and transferring data between internal clusters and external systems.

No prerequisites are involved, but CCP Data Engineer candidates should be experienced in solution development and related skills and knowledge. This performance-based exam costs $400. Credential holders need to retest every 3 years to maintain this certification.

A Cloudera certification is essential for developers, administrators, engineers or data analysts whose current or prospective employers use Cloudera. As of this writing, more than 2,000 positions pop up on job boards that mention Cloudera or require one of the company's certifications, and Cloudera itself has more than 350 open positions in various locations around the world.

Given that the company is a leading player in the big data and data science world, earning Cloudera certifications can open doors into all kinds of interesting organizations. To our way of thinking, this makes Cloudera certifications a good and safe bet under almost any circumstances.

Cloudera does a good job of supporting certification candidates with exam objectives, practice tests and instructor-led training for those interesting in structured learning in route to earning their credentials.

Cloudera University offers exam preparation training for any interested candidates. You can sign up for instructor-led classroom or online courses, or on-demand training that includes cloud-based labs. Companies with several employees to train can arrange for private, on-site classes as well.

Instructor-led training courses last three or four days, with prices typically around $2,595 and $3,195, respectively. Candidates can expect to pay $695 to $4,495 for on-demand courses, and participants have 6 months to complete each course. 

Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.