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15 data science certifications that will pay off

Looking to get ahead as a data scientist? Earning one of these data science certs will help you stand out in one of the hottest careers in IT.

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Data scientist is one of the hottest jobs in IT. What’s more, it's the best job you can get, period, according to data from Glassdoor. If you're looking to get into this field, or you want to stand out against the competition, look no further than data science certifications.

Data science is important to nearly every company and industry, but the skills that recruiters are looking for will vary across businesses and industries. Certifications are a great way to gain an edge because they allow you to develop skills that are hard to find in your desired industry. They're also a way to back up your skills, so recruiters and hiring managers know what they’re getting if they hire you.

Whether you’re looking to earn a certification from an accredited university, gain some experience as a new grad, hone vendor-specific skills or demonstrate your broad knowledge of data analytics, at least one of these certifications (presented here in alphabetical order) will work for you.

Top 15 data science certifications

  • Applied AI with DeepLearning, IBM Watson IoT Data Science Certificate
  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • Cloudera Certified Associate: Data Analyst
  • Cloudera Certified Professional: CCP Data Engineer
  • Data Science Council of America (DASCA)
  • Dell Technologies Data Scientist Associate (DCA-DS)
  • Dell Technologies Data Scientist Advance Analytics Specialist (DCS-DS)
  • HDP Data Science
  • IBM Certified Data Architect
  • Microsoft MCSE: Data Management and Analytics
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate
  • Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science
  • SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional
  • SAS Certified Big Data Professional
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist

Applied AI with DeepLearning, IBM Watson IoT Data Science Certificate

To earn IBM’s Watson IoT Data Science Certification, you’ll need some experience coding, preferably in Python, but they will consider any programming language as a place to start. Math skills, especially with linear algebra, are recommended but the course promises to cover the topics within the first week. It’s aimed at those with more advanced data science skills and classes are offered through Coursera.

Cost: $49 per month for a subscription to Coursera
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Does not expire

Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

CAP offers a vender-neutral certification and promises to help you “transform complex data into valuable insights and actions,” which is exactly what businesses are looking for in a data scientist: someone who not only understands the data but can draw logical conclusions and then express to key stakeholders why those data points are significant. If you’re new to data analytics, you can start with the entry-level Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) exam and then move on to your CAP certification.

Cost: $495 for INFORMS members, $695 for non-members; team pricing for organizations is available on request
Location: 
In person at designated test centers
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Valid for three years

Cloudera Certified Associate: Data Analyst

The CCA exam demonstrates your foundational knowledge as a developer, data analyst and administrator of Cloudera’s enterprise software. Passing a CCA exam and earning your certification will show employers that you have a handle on the basic skills required to be a data scientist. It’s also a great way to prove your skills if you’re just starting out and lack a strong portfolio or past work experience.

Cost: $295 per exam specialty and per attempt
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Valid for two years

Cloudera Certified Professional: CCP Data Engineer

Once you earn your CCA, you can move on to the CCP exam, which Cloudera touts as one of the most rigorous and “demanding performance-based certifications.” According to the website, those looking to earn their CCP need to bring “in-depth experience developing data engineering solutions” to the table, as well as a “high-level of mastery” of common data science skills. The exam consists of eight to 12 customer problems that you will have to solve hands-on using a Cloudera Enterprise cluster. The exam lasts 120 minutes and you’ll need to earn a 70 percent or higher to pass.

Cost: $600 per attempt — each attempt includes three exams
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Valid for three years

Data Science Council of America (DASCA)

The Data Science Council of America offers a data scientist certification that was designed to address “credentialing requirements of senior, accomplished professionals who specialize in managing and leading Big Data strategies and programs for organizations,” according to DASCA. The certification track includes paths for earning your Senior Data Scientist (SDS) and the more advanced Principal Data Scientist (PDS) credentials. Both exams last 100 minutes and consist of 85 and 100 multiple-choice questions for the SDS and PDS exams, respectively. You’ll need at least six or more years of big data analytics or engineering experience to start on the SDS track and 10 or more years of experience to qualify for the PDS exam.

Cost: $520 per exam
Location
: Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: 5 years

Dell Technologies Data Scientist Associate (DCA-DS)

The DCA-DS certification is an entry-level data science designation that is designed for those new to the industry or who want to make a career switch to work as a data scientist. While the exam is designed for those without a strong background in machine learning, statistics, math or analytics, it’s still a requirement for the more advanced certification. So even if you’re already an experienced data scientist, you’ll still need to pass this exam before you can move on to the Advanced Analytics Specialist designation.

Cost: $230 per Proven Professional certification exam; you’ll also need to purchase any books or other course material
Location: 
Online via Pearson VUE
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Does not expire

Dell Technologies Data Scientist Advanced Analytics Specialist (DCS-DS)

The DCS-DS certification builds on the entry-level associate certification and covers general knowledge of big data analytics across different industries and technologies. It doesn’t specifically focus on one product or industry, so it’s a good option if you aren’t sure where you want to go with your data career or if you just want a more generalized certification for your resume. The exam covers advanced analytical methods, social network analysis, natural language processing, data visualization methods and popular data tools like Hadoop, Pig, Hive and HBase.

Cost: $230 per Proven Professional certification exam; you’ll also need to purchase any books or other course material
Location: 
Online via Pearson VUE
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Does not expire

HDP Data Science

The HDP Data Science certification course from Hortonworks covers data science topics like machine learning and natural language processing. It also covers popular concepts and algorithms used in classification, regression, clustering, dimensionality reduction and neural networks. The course will also get you up to speed on the latest tools and frameworks, including Python, NumPy, pandas, SciPy, Sckikit-learn, NLTK, TensorFlow, Jupyter, Spark MLlib, Stanford CoreNLP, TensorFlowOnSpark/Horovod/MLeap and Apache Zeppelin. The course includes a combination of lecture and discussion and the other half consists of hands-on labs, which you’ll complete before taking the exam.

Cost: $250 per attempt
Location
: Online
Duration
: 4 days
Expiration
: 2 years

IBM Certified Data Architect

IBM’s Certified Data Architect certification isn’t for everyone — it’s geared toward seasoned professionals and experts in the field. IBM recommends that you have knowledge of the data layer and associated risk and challenges, cluster management, network requirement, important interfaces, data modeling, latency, scalability, high availability, data replication and synchronization, disaster recovery, data lineage and governance, LDAP security and general big data best practices. You will also need prior experience with software such as BigInsights, BigSQL, Hadoop and Cloudant (NoSQL), among others. You can see the long list of prerequisites on IBM’s website, but it’s safe to say you’ll need a solid background in data science to qualify for this exam.

The certification exam consists of 55 questions and five sections focusing on requirements (16%), use cases (46%), applying technologies (16%), recoverability (11%) — you will have 90 minutes to complete the exam. IBM offers web-based and in-classroom training courses on InfoSphere BigInsights, BigInsights Analytics for Programmers and Big SQL for developers.

Cost: $200
Location
: Online
Duration
: 90 minutes
Expiration
: N/A

Microsoft MCSE: Data Management and Analytics

MCSE certifications cover a wide variety of IT specialties and skills, including data science. For data science certifications, Microsoft offers two courses, one that focuses on business applications, and another that focuses on data management and analytics. However, each course requires prior certification under the MCSE Certification program, so you’ll want to make sure you check the requirements first.

Cost: $165 per exam, per attempt
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Valid for three years

Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist Associate

The Azure Data Scientist Associate certification from Microsoft focuses your ability to utilize machine learning to “train, evaluate and deploy models that solve business problems,” according to Microsoft. Candidates for the exam are tested on machine learning, AI solutions, natural language processing, computer vision and predictive analytics. The exam focuses on defining and preparing the development environment, data modeling, feature engineering and developing models.

Cost: $165
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Credentials do not expire

Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science

The Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science focuses on eight specific data science skills, including T-SQL, Microsoft Excel, PowerBI, Python, R, Azure Machine Learning, HDInsight and Spark. Microsoft claims there are over 1.5 million open jobs looking for these skills. Courses run for three months every quarter and you don’t have to take them in order; it’s self-paced with a recommended commitment of two to four hours per week.

Cost: Must purchase credits through EdX, some materials are free
Location
: Online
Duration
: 6 weeks
Expiration
: Does not expire

SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional

This program covers machine learning, predictive modeling techniques, working with big data sets, finding patterns, optimizing data techniques and time series forecasting. The certification program consists of nine courses and three exams that you’ll have to pass to earn the designation. You’ll need at least six months of programming experience in SAS or another language and it’s also recommended that you have at least six months of experience using mathematics or statistics in a business setting.

Cost: $299 per month subscription
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Credentials do not expire

SAS Certified Big Data Professional

The SAS Big Data certification includes two modules with a total of nine courses. You’ll need to pass two exams to earn the designation. The course covers SAS programming skills, working with data, improving data quality, communication skills, fundamentals of statistics and analytics, data visualization and popular data tools such as Hadoop, Hive, Pig and SAS. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need at least six months of programming experience in SAS or another language.

Cost: $299 per month subscription
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Credentials do not expire

SAS Certified Data Scientist

The SAS Certified Data Scientist certification is a combination of the other two data certifications offered through SAS. It covers programming skills, managing and improving data, transforming, accessing and manipulating data and how to work with popular data visualization tools. Once you earn both the Big Data Professional and Advance Analytics Professional certifications, you can qualify to earn your SAS Certified Data Scientist designation. You’ll need to complete all 18 courses and pass the five exams between the two separate certifications.

Cost: $299 per month subscription
Location: 
Online
Duration
: Self-paced
Expiration
: Credentials do not expire

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