In today’s job market, a data analytics certification signals to employers that you have the right skill set for the position you are seeking. It also proves that your abilities have been formally vetted by some of the most reputable companies and institutions in the industry. Whether you’re looking to advance your career in data analytics or just starting out, a data analytics certification can help accelerate your journey.
- What is Data Analytics?
- What Skills Does a Data Analyst Need?
- Best Data Analytics Certifications
- Why You Need Data Analytics Certifications
What is Data Analytics?
Data analytics broadly refers to the process of consolidating and reviewing raw data to look for patterns and anomalies. In business settings, data analytics helps answer some of the most impactful questions that drive innovation and growth. Data analytics starts with descriptive analytics, which illustrates what’s happening within a system based on a few key indicators.
Descriptive information is helpful for providing context, but it doesn’t necessarily provide guidance. That’s where predictive analytics comes in. With the aid of machine learning technologies like neural networks and natural language processing, predictive analytics offers insight about what will happen in the future based on historical data.
What Skills Does a Data Analyst Need?
There are a few fundamental skills that all data analysts need to be successful. Perhaps most importantly, data analysts should understand Structured Query Language (SQL) and its counterpart, NoSQL. SQL is the language analysts use to communicate with relational databases, which are the most common among large enterprises. For organizations that use more flexible hierarchies, however, NoSQL is a must.
Similarly, statistical programming languages like R and Python allow analysts to build algorithms and perform operations on large data sets that are more advanced than what Excel can do. Excel is another important skill data analysts should master. Though it’s a somewhat clunky application, Microsoft Excel is unrivaled in the business world for baseline data analysis.
Non-technical abilities data analysts should continue to develop include communication, problem-solving, and presentation skills. Data analysts provide value to their businesses when they can understand the problems that need to be addressed, translate them into an analytics challenge, and present solutions in a way that the rest of the business can understand. This process requires a combination of soft skills and technical expertise.
Best Data Analytics Certifications
Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) Generalist Certification
The Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) Generalist Certification is the next evolution of Cloudera’s CCP and CCA certifications. This 90-minute exam covers 60 questions that aim to evaluate proficiency with the Cloudera Data Platform. This certification is not role-specific, but Cloudera plans to release a CDP Certified Data Analyst exam in the future. Instead, the CDP Generalist exam tests general knowledge of the platform’s main components, security features, analytic experiences, system requirements, and functions.
Duration: 90 minutes/60 questions
Cost: $300 USD
Dell EMC Proven Professional Data Science Associate
Although it’s not platform-agnostic, the Dell EMC Proven Professional Data Science Associate certification focuses more on evaluating your data analysis knowledge and abilities that transcend specific products. This exam specifically tests your practical skills in a Big Data project setting. You’ll be tasked with deploying the data analytics lifecycle, using R to analyze and explore data, operationalizing a data analytics project, and utilizing data visualization techniques.
Duration: 90 minutes/60 questions
Cost: $230 USD
AWS Big Data Specialty Certification
The AWS Big Data Specialty Certification validates your skills with implementing AWS technologies, so it’s best to have a few years of experience on your resume before you start preparing for this exam. You’ll be tested on AWS architectural best practices, Big Data design and maintenance skills, and data analysis automation skills. AWS is one of the largest vendors in the market, so this is a valuable vendor-specific certification to have.
Duration: 170 minutes
Cost: $300 USD
Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP)
The Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) exam is a highly sought-after certification among data analysts with minimal experience. It’s an independent certification that covers the 7 domains of the analytics process: business problem framing, analytics problem framing, data, methodology selection, model building, deployment, and lifecycle management. You’ll have to submit an application to take the exam before you can do anything else, but the aCAP credential has deep ties to Fortune 100 companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, American Express, and more.
Duration: 100 questions
Cost: $200 USD for INFORMS members, $300 USD for non-members
SAS Certified Data Scientist
The SAS Certified Data Scientist program has three credentials: Data Curation Professional, Advanced Analytics Professional, and AI & Machine Learning Professional. You must complete the Data Curation Professional segment and at least one of the other two to earn the Data Scientist certification. However, it’s worth noting that the Advanced Analytics Professional and AI & Machine Learning Professional segments each include three subsequent exams you must complete, so this certification takes longer to earn than the others on this list.
Duration: 90-165 minutes per exam
Cost: $180 USD per exam
IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
Similar to Dell’s certification, IBM’s Data Science Professional Certificate signifies your general data analysis skills rather than any platform-specific knowledge. It’s broken into ten courses that are self-paced, but they will take about 11 months to complete at the recommended pace of 3 hours per week. You don’t need any prior experience or education to sign up for the course, which is ideal if your background is in a different field but you’re looking to switch to data analytics.
Duration: 11 months (recommended)
Cost: $38 USD per month (financial aid available)
Why You Need Data Analytics Certifications
Data analytics certifications establish your credibility in your field. They signal to potential employers that you have the right skills for the job, and they can be used as evidence of growth in your current role if you’re looking for a promotion. Similarly, enterprises use data analytics certifications to identify the most qualified candidates for their open roles. A certification is evidence that a reputable company or institution has co-signed your ability to provide quality business outcomes.