When Spiceworks surveyed IT professionals recently about their attitudes toward certifications, one of the most interesting data points was that about half of the respondents will be paying for their continuing IT education themselves this year. Only 56 percent said that their employers would pay for training in 2014. But half of the IT pros said they think that certifications are very valuable or extremely valuable to their careers. And 80 percent of them said they plan to complete some training or certification this year. Since having to pay for continuing education yourself often really means you’ll need to find some free or lower-cost training, let’s take a look at a range of vendor-specific, higher education, online and free online training resources. We’ll begin with one of the hottest IT skill sets for 2014: Big Data, aka analytics and/or business intelligence.
Vendor-Specific Big Data Certifications and Training
Market-leading vendor certifications were noted as some of the most valuable in the Spiceworks survey, and may be more likely to be employer-paid when an IT organization has a specific need for product support.
The Teradata Certified Professional Program is highly regarded and consistently makes lists of certs that are seeing significant pay raises. Through September 2014, Teradata 12 certification testing will be available, but the focus is now on certifications for Teradata 14.
Oracle breaks down its training modules for the Oracle Big Data Appliance platform into several sections, some of which focus on use of Oracle NoSQL database and others that provide overviews and essentials for working with Oracle Big Data.
HP this year is pushing its new Big Data certification for Vertica. It aims to have both customers and partners certified, and is working through the details for what that will mean for the channel going forward.
Datameer breaks its certification program into two parts, Certified Admin and Certified Analyst. The two are available independent of each other.
Cloudera is in the Hadoop skillset mix with a number of certifications. None require prerequisites. The tests are administered and proctored by national testing service PearsonVUE and can be taken at any test site at any time, which makes them among the more convenient. Cloudera clearly expects its Cloudera Certified Professional certs to not only help IT folks advance their own careers, but also to advance industry Hadoop buy-in.
Higher-Education Big Data Certifications and Training
A bewildering array of approaches to Big Data-oriented training is available in higher education. Though some are available online to students anywhere, others will require at least some physical attendance. Prominent programs that may be of more interest to IT professionals already established in their careers include:
University of Maryland University College Data Analytics graduate certificates and Master’s degree: The school currently offers two 15-credit certificate programs. Once completed, those credits can also be applied to the Master’s degree in data analytics. The programs also accept several prominent IT certifications in lieu of GMAT or GRE scores in the application process.
The University of Delaware’s Certificate in Analytics: Optimizing Big Data program is taught at the undergraduate level, and targets both IT and line-of-business professionals working with analytics.
The MIT Sloan School of Management is offering a two-day “Big Data: Making Complex Things Simpler course” this summer as part of the Management and Leadership certificate track. Classes within this and other certificate tracks at the school are open enrollment.
Stanford University’s “Mining Massive Data Sets Graduate Certificate” program targets professionals with a more-than-basic familiarity with computer science, programming and mathematics. The four-course program can be started in any academic quarter and the school estimates students will complete it in one to three years.
Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing this year launched a new, online data science program that will lead to a Certificate in Data Science (pending approvals by state boards). The 12-credit program has a very heavy emphasis on Big Data applications and analytics.
(Mostly) Free Online Big Data Certifications and Training
Coursera’s “Web Intelligence and Big Data” course focuses on “building ‘web-intelligence’ applications exploiting big data sources …” It’s appropriate for students with strong backgrounds in programming, SQL, data structures and mathematics. As with all courses on this site, it is free. A certificate is issued upon completion of the class. No start date is currently scheduled for the next class, but you can put the class on a watchlist to be notified when it is next scheduled. In the meantime, other free classes on Coursera might be beneficial, like John Hopkins University’s Data Science class (beginning in April).
Big Data University offers free online classes in a wide range of topics from Intro to Hadoop to SQL Fundamentals. You can sign up on the site and start taking classes immediately; certificates are not offered. Most classes can be completed in under 10 hours. The site is an effort of IT and data professionals in the field.
Take advantage of the growing number of Big Data MOOCs, or massive open online courses, like this one on Big Data Applications and Analytics, from Indiana University. For students not enrolled at the school, badges are awarded upon completion.
Learning Tree offers a four-course Big Data Certification Program, which includes a required Hadoop admin or development class and an elective in a drilldown area such as data warehouse design or Amazon Web Services (AWS). Classes are all available online, but in cities where Learning Tree has a center, you can also opt to attend physical classes. Classes are not free.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, by any means. If you have been impressed with Big Data training that is not listed here, let us know in the comments.