The 12 most valuable business intelligence certifications

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PayScale survey says BI analysts salaries average $67,650

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13 December 2019 | 0

With data increasingly vital to business success, business intelligence (BI) continues to grow in importance. With a strong BI strategy and team, organisations can perform the kinds of analysis necessary to help users make data-driven business decisions.

BI encompasses numerous roles. BI analysts, with an average salary of $67,650 according to PayScale, provide application analysis and data modelling design for centralised data warehouses and extract data from databases and data warehouses for reporting, among other tasks. BI developers, with an average salary of $79,218 according to PayScale, work with databases and software to develop and fine-tune IT solutions. BI architects, with an average salary of $112,043 according to PayScale, analyse and implement BI for their organisations, with responsibilities that range from determining platforms to building and maintaining data warehouses. BI directors, with an average salary of $128,512 per year according to PayScale, lead design and development activities related to the enterprise data warehouse.

In its 4Q 2019 IT Skills Demand and Pay Trends Report, research firm Foote Partners notes that cash pay for tech certifications is near its five-year low having decreased by 4.3% from a year ago. The premium for data/database certs has fared better but is still down 1% versus 2018. Foote Partners called out the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification as an exception, gaining more than 10% in value from the previous quarter. Overall, premiums for single certifications are boosting base salaries by 7.3%, according to Foote Partners.

Certifications are not required to work in BI, but they may help you get an edge by proving to employers that you have the right skillset. Below is our guide to some of the most sought-after BI certifications.

Top 12 business intelligence certifications

  • Certified Business Intelligence Professional
  • IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11
  • MCSA: BI Reporting
  • MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development
  • MCSE: Data Management and Analytics
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist
  • QlikView Business Analyst
  • QlikView Data Architect
  • SAP Certified Application Associate: Business Intelligence with SAP BW 7.4 & SAP BI 4.1
  • SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9
  • Tableau Desktop Certified Professional
  • Tableau Server Certified Professional

Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)

The CBIP certification program is intended for senior-level personnel in the information systems and technology industry with a focus on data management and business analytics. The cert demonstrates that you are up-to-date with BI technologies and are knowledgeable about best practices, solutions, and emerging trends. You will need two or more years of full-time experience in computer information systems, data modelling, data planning, data definitions, metadata systems development, enterprise resource planning, systems analysis, application development and programming, or information technology management. The initial certification is valid for four years and must be renewed every three years thereafter. Recertification requires proof of 120 credit hours of continuing education earned since the last renewal.

The certification has two levels:

  • Practitioner: Awarded to BI professionals who score at or above 50% on each of three exams.
  • Master: Awarded to BI professionals who score at or above 70% on each of three exams.

Organisation: Transforming Data With Intelligence (TDWI)

Exam fee: $400 per exam

Annual fee: $125 to the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) each year after the first

IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11

The IBM Certified Designer: IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11 certification demonstrates your ability to build advanced reports, active reports, and dashboards using relational data and/or uploaded files, as well as enhancing, customising, and managing professional reports. Candidates should have basic knowledge of database concepts and SQL, how to visually present data, and JavaScript. The certification requires passing the IBM Cognos Analytics Author V11 exam delivered by Pearson VUE.

Organisation: IBM

Price: $100 to $200

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: BI Reporting

The MCSA: BI Reporting certification demonstrates your expertise in analysing data with both Power BI and Excel. It demonstrates knowledge of data analysis, data visualisation, modelling, dashboards, and direct connectivity to data sources in Excel and Power BI. The certification serves as a first step toward the higher-level Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics certification. The certification requires passing one of two exams and does not require renewal.

Organisation: Microsoft

Exam fee: $165 per exam

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: SQL 2016 BI Development

The MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development certification validates your extract, transform, and load (ETL), and data warehouse skills, as well as your ability to implement BI solutions using multidimensional and tabular data models and online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. The certification serves as a first step toward higher-level MCSE certifications, including the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification. The certification requires passing one of 13 exams and does not require renewal.

Organisation: Microsoft

Exam fee: $165 per exam

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Data Management and Analytics

The MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification demonstrates your broad skill sets in SQL administration, building enterprise-scale data solutions, and leveraging BI data on-premises and in cloud environments. It qualifies the holder for data analyst, database designer, and business intelligence analyst positions. To qualify, the candidate must first earn an MCSA in SQL Server 2012/2014, or SQL 2016 Database Administration, Database Development, BI Development, Machine Learning, BI Reporting, or Data Engineering with Azure. The certification requires passing two of 13 exams. The certification does not expire.

Organisation: Microsoft

Exam fee: $165 per exam

Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist

The Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist certification is intended for intermediate-level implementation team members and demonstrates your skills in areas including: installing Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, building the BI Server metadata repository, building BI dashboards, constructing ad hoc queries, defining security settings, and configuring and managing cache files. The certification does not expire.

Organisation: Oracle

Exam fee: $245

QlikView Business Analyst

The QlikView Business Analyst certification demonstrates your knowledge of interface design of QlikView applications and is recommended for roles involved in the analysis, design, and layout of the QlikView application user interface. Candidates must have a basic knowledge of BI, reporting, and data analysis, as well as experience working with QlikView to design applications. The certification requires passing a multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE via a Pearson VUE Test Centre or in your home/office using online proctoring. The certification does not expire, though Qlik releases new exams for every major release, so old certifications do “age out.”

Organisation: Qlik

Exam fee: $250

QlikView Data Architect

The QlikView Data Architect certification demonstrates your knowledge of the technical aspects of QlikView application development, including design, data modelling, and scripting. It is recommended for roles involving developing, deploying, and supporting QlikView applications. The certification requires passing a multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE via a Pearson VUE Test Centre or in your home/office using online proctoring. The certification does not expire, though Qlik releases new exams for every major release, so old certifications do “age out.”

Organisation: Qlik

Exam fee: $250

SAP Certified Application Associate: Business Intelligence with SAP BW 7.4 & SAP BI 4.1

The SAP Certified Application Associate: Business Intelligence certification demonstrates your knowledge of SAP Business Warehouse and Business Intelligence. SAP recommends candidates combine hands-on experience and education courses to prepare for the required multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE. The certification does not expire.

Organisation: SAP

Exam fee: $552

SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9

The SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9 certification validates you have the skills required to build reports, analyses, and dashboards using SAS 9. SAS recommends candidates come equipped with skills in information consumer reporting applications, data management, creating information maps, building an SAS BI Dashboard application, building stored processes and utilising multidimensional (OLAP) data sources. The exam is administered by SAS and Pearson VUE. The exam consists of 60 to 65 multiple-choice questions and the candidate must achieve a score of 70% correct to pass.

Organisation: SAS

Exam fee: $180

Tableau Desktop Certified Professional

The Tableau Desktop Certified Professional certification is for individuals with considerable experience with Tableau (recommended 12 or more months of experience) who wish to demonstrate their mastery of advanced functionality of Tableau and application of visual best practices. The certification requires you to hold the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate certification and pass an exam. The certification is valid for three years.

Organisation: Tableau

Exam fee: $600

Tableau Server Certified Professional

The Tableau Server Certified Professional certification is for individuals with considerable experience with Tableau Server (recommended nine or more months of experience) who wish to demonstrate their architectural knowledge and platform integration expertise. The certification requires you to hold the Tableau Server Qualified Associate certification and pass an exam. The certification is valid for three years.

Organisation: Tableau

Exam fee: $800

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