Interpreting and analyzing data is an increasing need throughout the modern workplace. Businesses rely on the insight data scientists provide to drive decisions from daily operations to large-scale processes. In this article, we explain which certifications can help a data scientist increase their industry knowledge, gain experience and add value to their skill set.
What is a data scientist?
A data scientist is an analyst who gathers and uses information to help optimize business processes. Like a scientist, they investigate big data for patterns and insights, combining IT and business knowledge to find trends. They must have an in-depth knowledge of coding and statistical computer languages, computing tools and data presentation software. Data scientists use strong communication skills to share insights with team members, from IT to marketing and top-level management.
Related: What Is a Data Scientist?
Benefits of getting certifications in data science
Certifications from industry-leading organizations or commercial businesses are widely recognized and valued. Earning certifications in data science connects academic learning to actual industry knowledge. When you pursue certification, you:
- Show potential employers your desire for continued learning and professional development
- Stay up-to-date on current industry practices, which gives you an advantage when you apply for jobs
- Understand the basics and advanced methods for industry tools and software
- Have specific, employer-desired certifications on your resume
You may find some certifications are more useful at certain stages in your career, and some may also require you to have at least five, 10 and 15 years of experience to complete the certification. Also, many certifications expire after a period of three to five years and require recertification.
Best data science certifications to boost your career
Data scientists can earn certifications from professional organizations or businesses that focus on certain computer platforms. Members of The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), a professional data science network, may receive discounts on certain training. Most training programs are online with a few hosted at in-person testing sites.
Here is a list of the top certifications you can earn as a data scientist to improve your industry knowledge and validate your technical skills:
1. Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
This certification allows you to gain insights from big data but does not focus on a specific commercial platform. You must pass the Associate Certified Analytics Professional exam before you can earn a CAP certification. The certification cost for a CAP is discounted for INFORMS members. A CAP certification is valid for three years.
2. Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Senior Data Scientist (SDS)
The SDS certification is broken into five tracks that require different levels of experience. To begin earning this certification, you first need a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience working in data science to complete the first track. Other tracks require a master's degree along with other certifications, so be sure to check specific program prerequisites. The SDS is a multifaceted program that covers a wide range of professional knowledge. The certification is valid for five years.
3. Data Science Council of America (DASCA) Principle Data Scientist (PDS)
This program has four tracks, each requiring at least 10 years of experience working as a data scientist. Tracks focus on advanced topics for high-level analysis and technology. You need a master's degree to complete three of the four tracks. This certification does not expire, but the cost of each track is higher than most exams.
4. Open Certified Data Scientist (Open CDS)
An Open CDS certification is completed via an application and board review instead of traditional coursework and exams. Your certification is based on experience as you progress through three levels of certification: Certified Data Scientist, Master Certified Data Scientist and Distinguished Certified Data Scientist. The Open CDS certificate does not expire.
5. SAS Certified Big Data Professional
Participants in this program must have experience in programming and SAS or another computer language. There are nine courses within this certification that cover the basics of statistics and data analysis, popular data tools, programming and communication. This certification does not expire.
6. SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional
This SAS certification offers training in predictive modeling, time series forecasting, machine learning and data optimization techniques. In this program, pass nine courses and three exams to achieve the certification. You also need at least six months of programming experience in either SAS or another computer language. This course is recommended for those who have at least six months of data science experience for businesses. There is no expiration for this certification.
7. SAS Certified Data Scientist
This course combines with the previous SAS certifications to give you an additional distinction. You must pass the previous courses to qualify for this program, which offers training in data management and improvement, including how to access and manipulate data. You also learn how to work with data visualization tools. As with the other SAS programs, the SAS Data Scientist certificate does not expire.
8. Google Certified Professional Data Engineer
For those who know Google's cloud platform (GCP), this is an exam designed to certify your knowledge. You'll be tested on your GCP knowledge of machine learning models, from design to operation and security. Your credentials for this certification will not expire.
9. Google Data Machine Learning
Certification in Google Data Machine Learning takes you through three tracks that have a heavy focus on data analysis through the Google Cloud Platform. It also offers modules focused on data engineering and machine learning for data scientists. There is no expiration for this certification.
10. Cloudera Certified Associate Data Analyst
This certification examines your knowledge specific to Cloudera's enterprise software. The exam focuses on your expertise in analyzing, programming and administrating in the Cloudera platform. These are basic skills for a data scientist, which makes this certification good for those just starting out in the field of data science. This certification expires after two years.
11. Cloudera Certified Professional: CCP Data Engineer
To earn this certification, you must first pass the Cloudera Associate Data Analyst exam. Cloudera calls the CCP Data Engineer program a rigorous and demanding performance-based certification that requires deep data engineering mastery. This certification is helpful for data scientists who design and develop for production environments. During this four-hour exam, you solve a series of customer issues using the Cloudera Enterprise cluster. CCP credentials are valid for three years.
12. IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
This nine-course certification covers:
- Data analysis and visualization
- Data science methodology
- Databases, Python and SQL
- Machine learning
- Open source tools
- A capstone in applied data science
For this program, sign up for an online subscription and finish courses at your own pace. After finishing the training, add the portfolio of projects to your resume. The recommended pacing for this program is about three months, and the certification does not expire.
13. Dell EMC Data Science Track (Data Science Associate and Data Science Specialist)
A Dell EMC certification takes you through two levels of training. First, you earn an associate certificate in big data analysis and data science foundations. Next, you complete courses for the specialist program, which cover visualization methods, platforms including Hive, Hadoop, HBase, and Pig, advanced analysis methods and natural language processing.
14. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
This certification from Microsoft is part of a larger offering of IT skills and specialties that includes data science. The data science tracks cover data analysis and management along with business applications. This is expert-level testing, so to earn this certificate, you need prior MCSE certification. The Microsoft Data Management Analytics certification lasts for three years.
15. Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
Microsoft says this program is for data scientists to use machine learning to "train, evaluate and deploy models that solve business problems." This exam covers data science skills like predictive analytics, AI solutions and natural language processing along with a focus on defining and preparing the development environment through engineering and modeling. This certification does not expire.
16. Oracle Business Intelligence
Oracle owns some of the most widely used database software and computer languages in the world, including MySQL and Java. Many companies use Oracle's business intelligence (BI) tools, so getting certified in an Oracle BI course can be a beneficial addition to your skill set. Oracle offers a variety of online and in-person exams to validate your technical knowledge.
17. MongoDB Certified Developer
Data scientists are increasingly using the NoSQL database for business analytics. MongoDB offers one of the only NoSQl certifications. Certified professionals can choose to earn credentials either as a developer associate or a database administrator associate. Training for the exam is free through online courses. MongoDB certifications do not expire.
18. Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
INFORMS offers its own certification with training in developing analytical methodologies, model building and lifecycle management, analytic problems and acquiring data and implementation practices. This exam does not focus on a specific platform but covers a range of analytical processes applicable to data science. You need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of professional experience in analytics. INFORMS also requires candidates to confirm their skills through a current or previous employer.
Tips for choosing a certification
Here are some factors to consider when deciding on data science certifications to pursue:
- Choose based on your career level: Depending on where you are in your career, certain certifications may be of more use to you. For those just starting out, broad certifications that are the basis for expert-level training are a good idea.
- Focus on certain skills: You may want to focus your certification on a particular aspect of data science, like architecture, analysis or engineering.
- Train in certain platforms: Employers often look for specific certifications in platforms like R, SQL, Hadoop, Python and Java.