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Cloudera Big Data Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Ed Tittel and Earl Follis

These big data certifications can help you advance your IT career.

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 before. Along with those companies, a new generation of software platforms, analysis tools, and related professional skills and knowledge present 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 is one of the top four big data platforms in use today.

Cloudera is a company that specializes in mega data collections built around the Apache Hadoop platform to create what it calls "enterprise data hubs." Such hubs enable customers to create information-driven organizations, where Cloudera provides a platform for enterprise-ready data management. This platform is designed to provide the tools to extract the most value from your customer data.

Although Hadoop is a free, open-source platform, Cloudera adds substantial value by providing strong security, policy-driven data governance, formal system management, product support and lots of important system integrations to bring all data sources together under its umbrella. Cloudera offers enterprise and express versions of its Cloudera Distribution. This includes Cloudera 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 Awadallah, who built one of the first-ever business units based on 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 in 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 2018. For Q4 of the company's 2018 fiscal year, it reported a 42% increase over earnings for the same quarter in its previous year. Estimates of Cloudera's overall valuation range as high as $5 billion. There's dollars in them data!

Cloudera certification program overview

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 aims not only to provide companies and organizations with skilled data analysis professionals, but also to cover requirements for administrative and development expertise to support robust Apache Hadoop infrastructures built around the Cloudera platform.

Cloudera and Hadoop

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 data sets, and configure applications from the command line.

A performance-based exam (CCA175) is required to obtain the CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer certification. The exam costs $295 and includes eight to 12 performance-based, hands-on 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. Candidates must score at least 70% on the exam to pass. To maintain their certification status, candidates must retest every two years.

CCA Administrator

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. The exam costs $295 and includes eight to 12 performance-based, hands-on problems that the candidate must solve in 120 minutes. There are no formal prerequisites. Candidates must score at least 70% on the exam to pass. The credential is valid for two years.

CCA Data Analyst

Cloudera's CCA Data Analyst recognizes professionals who query data sets 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 eight to 12 hands-on problems that the candidate must solve on a CDH5 cluster, on areas such as preparing data for queries, using Query Language (QL) and analyzing data on the cluster. There are no formal prerequisites. Candidates must score at least 70% on the exam to become certified. Like other CCA credentials, the CCA Data Analyst certification is valid for two years.

Cloudera Certified Professional Data Engineer

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

The CCP Data Engineer exam is a practical exam consisting of a set of five to eight customer-focused problems. The exam is designed to test skills required for successful big data engineers, including performing workflow-oriented tasks; analyzing data (showing the 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.

There are no prerequisites, but CCP Data Engineer candidates should be experienced in solution development and related skills and knowledge. This performance-based exam costs $400 and has a four-hour time limit. Credential holders need to retest every three 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 to all kinds of interesting organizations and job opportunities. To our way of thinking, this makes Cloudera certification a great goal and a safe bet to increase your big data career prospects 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 while earning Cloudera 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 onsite 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 six months to complete each course.

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