Today’s organizations are looking for better ways to pull the information they need from massive volumes of data available to them. Big data system administrators store, manage and transfer large sets of data, making them amenable to analysis. Data analytics is the practice of examining the raw data to identify patterns and draw conclusions. Business intelligence involves the collection and organization of information to report on business activities, often pulling data from those very sets.
Along with the surge in big data interest comes a growing number of certifications to recognize the necessary skills in working with enormous data sets. The target audience is IT professionals with a background in analytics, data mining, business intelligence or data management, along with a knack for and interest in mathematics and statistics. Big data engineers are in reasonably high demand and usually command salaries of $101,000 or more, where data scientists average about $128,500 in salary.
We took a detailed look at certifications from INFORMS, Microsoft, MongoDB, Oracle and SAS. Check out the results from our informal search of various job boards to see which certifications employers really want. However, these results are a snapshot from a specific day, time and geography, so they may not reflect actual job demands in your locality when you search for yourself.
|>MCSE: Data Management and Analytics (Microsoft)||377||>271||31||320||>999|
|>MongoDB Certified DBA||12||13||8||5||38|
|>MongoDB Certified Developer||104||124||49||31||308|
|Oracle Business Intelligence||323||>503||713||194||1,733|
|SAS Certified Data Scientist||88||11||10||18||228|
*Certified Analytics Professional
INFORMS is a membership-based association aimed at practitioners, researchers and instructors in analytics, as well as operations research and management sciences. The association reports about 12,500 members from nearly 90 countries, most of whom participate in various educational and networking opportunities via their INFORMS membership.
The organization also sponsors the vendor-neutral Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification. CAP focuses on seven domains of the analytics process:
Candidates must meet rigorous education and experience requirements, obtain confirmation from a supervisor (current or former) of acceptable soft skills, agree to a code of ethics, and pass one computer-based exam.
This credential must be renewed every three years by earning 30 professional development units (PDUs). INFORMS also requires a $100 annual maintenance fee beginning in the fourth year after certification.
|>Certification name||Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)|
|Prerequisites and required courses||Eligibility to sit for exam:
|>Number of exams||1 exam (100 multiple-choice questions, 3 hours)|
|Cost per exam||Exam: $495 member, $695 nonmember
Re-examination fee: $300 member, $400 nonmember
Exams administered by Kryterion. Candidates must be approved by INFORMS and pay for the exam before registering with an exam site.
|Self-study materials||The Certified Analytics Professional Candidate Handbook includes exam topics (the 7 domains), sample test questions and a list of self-study resources. A study guide is available on the CAP website (membership or registration required).|
Microsoft is part of the big data mix with its MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification, which leans heavily toward SQL Server 2016 and emphasizes cloud environments and reporting. This credential replaces the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence, which retired on March 31, 2017.
The MCSE: Data Management and Analytics requires candidates to earn an MCSA certification and then pass an elective exam. The MCSA certifications to choose from are MCSA: 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; and MCSA: Data Engineering with Azure. There are 12 MCSE elective exams, which focus on a variety of cloud, big data analytics and BI topics, with machine learning now added to the MCSA certifications.
To maintain this certification, you must pass an additional elective exam each year. Doing so adds an entry to your transcript that indicates your commitment to staying current on technologies and expanding your skill set.
Number of exams
|Certification name||MCSE: Data Management and Analytics|
|Prerequisites and required courses||Prerequisites (1 required):
Training courses available and recommended for all certifications but not required.
|One of the following:
|Cost per exam||$165, administered by Pearson VUE.|
|Self-mtudy Materials||Each exam page has links to instructor-led training, exam prep videos, self-paced training, practice tests and books.|
*Exam to be retired on June 30, 2019. Replacement test not yet released but should be available prior to that date.
MongoDB is both an open-source, NoSQL document-oriented database and the name of the company providing that technology. Because of its document-oriented NoSQL model, MongoDB is well suited for managing large amounts of loosely structured data, as is so often the case in big data projects.
MongoDB was deemed a leader in Forrester Wave: Big Data NoSQL, Q3 2016, and Gartner selected MongoDB as a challenger in its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems. The database ranks fifth in overall database engine popularity as of March 2019.
The MongoDB NoSQL certification program recognizes developers and operations professionals who can create and run applications on MongoDB. The program offers two associate-level credentials: MongoDB Certified DBA and MongoDB Certified Developer. The company plans to eventually roll out higher-level certifications. The current exams are based on MongoDB V4.0.
MongoDB offers private, instructor-led classroom training as well as free online video training through MongoDB University. Each online course typically runs for 3-7 weeks and features video lectures, quizzes, weekly assignments, and a final exam or project. Students may use the forums to interact and address each other’s questions; instructors and teaching assistants monitor forums and jump in when needed.
For database professionals interested in venturing into big data projects and NoSQL databases, the MongoDB certification is certainly a worthwhile goal.
|>Certification name||MongoDB Certified DBA, Associate Level
MongoDB Certified Developer, Associate Level
|Prerequisites and required courses||None; training recommended but not required|
|Number of exams||1 exam per credential (multiple-choice questions, 90 minutes; delivered online through MongoDB’s proctoring partner)|
|Cost per exam||$150 (or local currency equivalent)|
|Self-study materials||MongoDB University offers public and private training, as well as free online courses. Each exam webpage includes a study guide and links to documentation, presentations and exam study sessions (if available).|
Oracle has one of the largest certification programs in the world, and it has granted more than 1 million Oracle and Sun certifications.
Oracle offers its Business Intelligence (BI) certifications across several applications and platforms, such as Business Intelligence Applications 7 for CRM, Business Intelligence Applications 7 for ERP, and Business Intelligence Foundation 11g. To narrow down the field, we focused on the Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist credential.
Candidates for this certification are intermediate-level professionals (architects, analysts, developers and administrators) who work with Oracle Business Intelligence Suite solutions, performing tasks such as installing, building, querying, configuring, and managing the platform and BI dashboards.
Although anyone can attempt the exam, the certification is designed for members of the Oracle Partner Network who sell and deploy the technology.
New exams and training courses based on Oracle BI 12c are also becoming available as those courses and exams are released to the public.
|Certification name||Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist|
|Prerequisites and required courses||None.
|Number of exams||1 exam: 1Z0-591 Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Essentials (75 multiple-choice questions, 120 minutes, 63% passing score)|
|Cost per exam||$245, administered by Pearson VUE. Exam vouchers may be purchased from Oracle University or Pearson VUE; Oracle Testing ID required to register; Oracle Partner Network members also need their OPN Company ID.|
|Self-study materials||Training is available, including classroom, live virtual class, training on demand, self-study, learning streams and practice exams. Additional exam preparation materials are listed on the exam webpage.|
SAS is a multibillion-dollar global corporation that specializes in business analytics software and services. The company’s well-honed certification program offers nine credentials across programming, information and data management, advanced analytics, and business intelligence.
Three noteworthy SAS certifications are the SAS Certified Data Scientist, SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9: Regression and Modeling, Business Intelligence Content Developer for SAS 9, and SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9. We concentrated on the SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9.
Candidates for the Data Scientist certification should have in-depth knowledge of and skills in manipulating big data using SAS and open-source tools, using complex machine learning models, making business recommendations, and deploying models. Candidates must pass five exams to earn the SAS Certified Data Scientist credential.
SAS doesn’t require candidates to take certification courses as a prerequisite for exams, but the company offers an official curriculum for those who have the budget and need the extra preparation.
SAS “versioned” credentials, such as the SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9, do not expire. However, SAS may retire exams as new or enhanced software is released.
<td”>$180; Predictive Modeling exam is $250
See the Certification Discount Packages webpage for discounts for faculty, staff, students, veterans and others.
|Certification name||SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9|
|Prerequisites and required courses||SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9
SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9
See a list of courses that support Big Data and Advanced Analytics on the SAS Academy for Data Science webpage. Recommended Data Scientist training: SAS Certified Data Scientist (e-learning, $4,400; live instructor-led in Cary, North Carolina; 12 weeks, $16,000)
|>Number of exams||5 exams:
Exams include multiple-choice, short-answer and interactive questions (interactives are in simulated SAS environment). Exams available through Pearson VUE.
|Cost per exam|
|Self-study materials||List of exam preparation training and materials available on individual exam pages. Free sample questions available. Practice exams ($500) available through SAS and Pearson VUE.|
It was a real challenge to whittle down this year’s list of popular big data certifications. The Cloudera Certified Professional Data Engineer (CCP Data Engineer) missed a spot in the top five by a small margin. The company also offers CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer and CCA Data Analyst certifications. Given the company’s leadership status in software and services based on Hadoop, the CCP Data Engineer certification is worth your consideration.
Check out Stanford’s Data Mining and Applications graduate certificate. Although it’s not a vendor-neutral or vendor-specific certification (it’s a college certificate), TechExams forum members like it in terms of popularity and job prospects. The certificate requires completion of three courses (nine college units) at a cost of $11,340 to $12,600. The Microsoft Professional Program (MPP) currently offers four tracks for online education with course completion certificates, including two relevant tracks: one on data science, the other on big data. These are worth checking out as well, and significantly cheaper than the Stanford certificate program.
There are many more. A quick Google search every month or two should reveal a growing list of big data, data analytics and BI certifications, and we think one or more of these is a smart way to spend your certification dollars.