The Top Data Science Certifications Employers Look For

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You are a data scientist, a seeker of new knowledge. You are curious, inquisitive, and always up for the next challenge, so mastering a new skill is always on your radar.

Professional certifications in data science serve as the ideal way to bridge the gap between academia and industry practices. They also provide tangible, third-party proof of your skills and allow you to position yourself right where you need to be for the next big job, promotion, or career move.

Whether you’re fresh out of grad school, looking for your next job opportunity, or want to feel secure in your current position, data science certification is for you. In fact, in the world of data analytics, any time is a good time to think about certification.

The Benefits of Certification are Clear

Big data vendor certifications accomplish a number of things, all of which benefit you and your career in data science:

  • Data science certifications help hiring managers know that your skills are up to par with industry standards and that you have met vendor-specific benchmarks.
  • Data science certifications serve as proof of your commitment to continuous learning.
  • Data science certifications provide you with a way to distinguish yourself from you peers and stay one step ahead of your competition.
  • Data science certifications keep your skills marketable and solidify your value to your current or future employer.

Choosing a Data Science Certification That’s Right for You

What you’re sure to notice first is that there are many, many data science vendor certifications available, and there always seems to more in the works. Are some certifications better than others? Do some hold more weight than others?

There’s no simple answer to these questions, as the certification you choose will depend on a number of factors including your personal career goals, your level of education and training, and your employer’s needs.

Your decision may be based on a need to brush up on your current skills, learn a new skillset, or get in on the latest technologies in big data, business intelligence, and business analysis.

A discussion among colleagues or a quick search of the latest job listings often sheds light on some of the hottest certs employers are looking for. Employers often encourage their data scientists to pursue vendor certification in specific areas, and many more pick up the cost of the program and exam.

Some of the biggest vendors in data science certifications include IBM, SAS, and Cloudera, although there are plenty more to choose from.

Here’s a list of some of today’s hottest data science certifications as compiled by the folks here at


Cloudera is a vendor of Apache Hadoop. This software leader caters to a wide range of markets, such as government, university research, financial services, energy, and telecommunications.

The main Cloudera certification is the Cloudera Certified Professional: Data Scientist (CCP: DS), designed for data scientists who can design and develop scalable and robust solutions for production environments. Candidates must be able to design and develop data science solutions on a live cluster with real data sets and pass the following exams:

  • Descriptive and Inferential Statistics on Big Data
  • Advanced Analytical Techniques on Big Data
  • Machine Learning at Scale

Cloudera certifications do not expire, although cert holders can keep their credentials up to date by earning additional certification in the latest releases like:

  • Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop (CCDH)
  • Cloudera Certified Administrator for Apache Hadoop (CCAH)
  • Cloudera Certified Specialist in Apache HBase (CCSHB)


SAS specializes in business analytics software and services, offering a number of credentials in programming, advanced analytics, business intelligence, and information and data management for programmers, administrators, and data analysts working with the SAS platform.

SAS Academy for Data Science offers three bootcamps in data science resulting in certification:

  • SAS Certified Big Data Professional
    • Six-week intensive bootcamp focused on big data management, data quality, and visual data exploration for advanced analytics
  • SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional
    • Six-week comprehensive bootcamp focuses on analytical modeling, machine learning, experimentation, forecasting, optimization, and critical communication skills
  • SAS Certified Data Scientist
    • Twelve-week bootcamp focused on big data management, advanced analytics, machine learning, data visualization, and essential communication skills

Candidates may take the above certification exams without enrolling in the bootcamps if they already have the requisite skills.

EMC Corporation

EMC Corporation is the go-to company for data storage systems, as well as cloud computing, visualization, and analytics. Their certification program, EMC Proven Professional Certification, features 12 different certification tracks and multiple credentials.

One of most popular certs remains the EMC: Data Science Associate (EMCDSA), especially for new data scientists.

The CMCDSA is rich in big data analytics (including framing the business question, the analytics lifecycle, and applying analytics tools and techniques, among others), requiring candidates to pass an exam that covers the following topics:

  • Role of the data scientist
  • Data analytics lifecycle
  • Initial and advanced analysis topics on theory
  • Methods
  • Technology
  • Tools
  • Operationalizing in analytics project and data visualization techniques

Ready for an expert-level data scientist cert? EMC has that, too, with the Advanced Analytics Specialty certification, designed for data scientists looking to evolve and expand their skillsets in areas like:

  • Hadoop
  • Social network analysis
  • Natural language processing
  • Visualization methods

EMC also offers a host of other associate-level certifications in areas like backup recovery, cloud infrastructure, information storage and management, and services and content management, as well as higher-level certifications like the Cloud Architect (EMCCA), Data Center Architect (EMCDCA), and the Storage Administrator (EMCSA).

The CMCDSA certification is good for life, although EMC recommends updating certifications every three years to stay current on new technology.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)

The INFORMS: Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification includes training in acquiring data, developing analytical methodologies, analytic problems and training, model building, model lifecycle management, and implementation.

The CAP exam is platform-neutral, covering the seven domains of the analytics process:

  • Business problem framing
  • Analytics problem framing
  • Data
  • Methodology selection
  • Model building
  • Deployment
  • Lifecycle management

To qualify to take the CAP exam, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and 3-7 years of professional analytics work experience. Depending on their degree field and level, candidates must also receive confirmation by their current or previous employer that they have specific soft skills.


IBM’s offering in data science certification is the IBM Certified Solution Advisor – Big Data & Analytics, ideal for demonstrating an understanding of basic concepts related to big data and analytics. Topics covered in the certification exam include big data and analytics solution design principles, architectures, solutions, and processes.

Candidates for this certification should have a working knowledge of big data & analytics design principles, maturity and adoption models, IBM big data and analytics offerings, and the role of corporate and information governance, among others.

Honorable Mentions

Additional options in data science certification worth looking into include:

Revolution Analytics – Revolution R Enterprise Professional: Demonstrates expertise in using the R statistical language for advanced analytics

INSOFE, the International School of Engineering – Certificate in Engineering Excellence in Big Data Analytics and Optimization (CPEE): Demonstrates expertise in Hadoop and R. coursework, statistical modeling, data analytics, and text mining

HP Vertica – HP Vertica Big Data Accredited Solutions Expert (ASE) for Vertica Big Data Solutions Administrator V1: Demonstrates knowledge and experience working with the Vertica Analytics Platform

MAPR – Hadoop certifications: MCHD – MapR Certified Hadoop Developer; MCHA – MapR Certified Hadoop Administrator; MCHBD – MapR Certified HBase Developer: Demonstrates big data expertise and proficiency as administrator, developer, and data analyst

DeZyre – DeZyre Apache Spark Certification: Demonstrates knowledge of how a Spark cluster operates and how to apply the best practices to a Spark cluster

Hortonworks – Hadoop certifications: Includes Hadoop 2.0 Developer Certification; Hadoop 2.0 Java Developer Certification; Hadoop 2.0 Administrator Certification: Demonstrates skills in the development and administration of Hadoop-based solutions

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