A staggering 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were generated in 2018 alone—a number that has only grown since. Couple that with the rise of data-driven decision making within businesses and the use of predictive analytics to evaluate future trends, and the need for qualified data analysts becomes apparent.
But in such a dynamic data world, how can analysts keep up their skills?
The answer: certificates. Data analytics certificate programs are an essential part of any analyst’s ongoing training, proving your expertise and displaying your ability to keep up. From SQL and machine learning to AWS and Azure to big data and open-source tools, many certifications can augment your credentials in data analysis. They can show managers you have what it takes to advance in the competitive field.
What Is Data Analytics?
Businesses increasingly rely on data to drive their decisions, but they need an expert to draw insights from the raw data. Data analytics combines mathematics, coding, and business intelligence to make sense out of raw data with an ever-growing suite of computational tools and techniques like optimization and time-series or programming languages like Python or R.
In so doing, data analysts help businesses decipher their data so that they can make sound decisions and predict future outcomes.
What Does a Data Analyst Do?
- Data management: Cleaning data so it can be accurately evaluated
- Analytics process: Analyzing data and interpreting the results
- Data storytelling: Conveying findings in a meaningful way—often using data visualization tools like Tableau
A data analyst job description boils down to being presented with business challenges and then looking at data and statistics to find the right answers to aid in business decision-making.
Why Are Data Analyst Certifications Important?
With so many data analytics tools available for companies today, finding the right one for your data model can be a daunting task—and finding an analyst with the experience needed for that tool is even harder. A data analyst’s certifications show their proficiency with the data analytics tools and skills they need to demonstrate their expertise. From Impala and Spark to Hive and Hadoop, data analyst certifications deliver training on specific tools and tasks needed for the job and enable analysts to meet their employer’s needs.
Data analyst certifications also make your data analyst resume stand out to hiring managers by proving your excellence.
Top 5 Data Analyst Certifications for 2021
1. Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP)
The precursor to the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) designation, the aCAP is an entry-level certification designed for those lacking the experiential background needed for the capstone achievement. In other words, it’s the first step toward obtaining the more coveted CAP certification.
Those holding this certificate demonstrate aptitude in the core competencies of data analytics, including analytical problem framing, business problem framing, methodology selection, and model building, to name a few.
Sponsored by INFORMS, the aCAP requires:
- A master’s degree, typically in information technology, data analytics, or another STEM field
- An agreement to adhere to the code of ethics
- A $300 fee
In order to show their continued progress in the field, analysts are required to convert their aCAP certification to a CAP designation within seven years.
2. Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA)
Sponsored by analytics and machine learning giant Cloudera, the CCA is especially helpful for SQL developers seeking to demonstrate their ability to navigate tools like Impala and Hive. The requirements for obtaining this certification are as follows:
- Passage of a two-hour exam featuring 8 to 12 hands-on questions regarding SQL servers and SQL-related problems, with a score of at least 70%
- Payment of a $295 fee
3. Microsoft Certified Data Analyst Associate
Preceded by the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certificate, the Microsoft Certified Data Analyst Associate replaced its ancestor in January 2021. This certificate proves that holders have sufficient expertise using Microsoft Power BI, can clean and transform data as needed, and can convey their findings with accessible data visualization tools.
To prepare for this certification, students may take advantage of free online materials at their own pace, or they can join a paid instructor-led class with lectures and assignments. Either way, the exam fee is $165.
4. SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9
This certification is designed for those entering big data, and it requires holders to demonstrate aptitude for large-scale analytics techniques such as experimentation, optimization, and time series. Obtaining this certificate requires passing three exams:
- SAS Advanced Predictive Modeling ($180)
- SAS Text Analytics, Time Series, Experimentation, and Optimization ($180)
- Predictive Modeling Using SAS Enterprise Miner ($250)
To prepare for these exams, SAS recommends SAS Academy in Data Science: Advanced Analytics and Applied Analytics Using SAS Enterprise Miner. Online courses are available as well. By obtaining this certification, analysts will have proven their mastery over big data analytical methods.
5. Microsoft Azure Data Scientist Associate
Although the name implies it’s geared toward data scientists—and it is—the Microsoft Azure Data Scientist Associate certification can be extremely helpful for data analysts pursuing a data science career. Those holding this certificate will be able to demonstrate their aptitude in data science skills using Azure.
Like the Microsoft Certified Data Analytics Associate Certification, a $165 exam fee is required, and both free online training and paid instructor-led classes are offered.
Can I Become a Data Analyst Without a Certification?
While some data analyst positions show preference to candidates with a certification of some sort, a certification is not necessarily a requirement for every data analyst job.
However, because they are a valuable means of assessing your aptitude, advancing your career will likely eventually require one. No company appreciates a stagnant employee, and lifelong learners who seek to polish their skills by obtaining professional certificates demonstrate an interest in advancement.
Is data analytics the right career for you?
Springboard offers a comprehensive data analytics bootcamp. Our data analytics curriculum goes beyond just technical skills to focus on areas where employers find the biggest gaps: strategic thinking, problem-solving, and communication. Watch videos from Microsoft. Learn insights from McKinsey experts. Tackle case studies from Harvard Business School. No other data analytics bootcamp does this. You’ll graduate with an analytical mindset. That’s an edge not just for your job search, but throughout your career.
Check out Springboard’s Data Analytics Career Track to see if you qualify.