Want to bulk up your business intelligence skills? Looking to add a few thousand dollars to your yearly salary?
Keep reading, because I’ve checked the web for the best business intelligence certifications and academic programs that make you better at your job and, possibly, better paid.
Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)
If you check the Bureau of Labor Statistics for business intelligence certifications, you’ll find 126 certifications from 26 different sources. Most of those 26 are businesses (see vendor-specific training below). I’m starting, however, with the only vendor-neutral certification: the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP), offered by The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and the ICCP.
To be certified as a Business Intelligence Professional, you’ll need to take the exam. The exam breaks down thusly:
- 3 tests required
- Information Systems
- Data Warehousing
- Pick one: Business Analytics, Data Integration, Leadership and Management, Data Analysis and Design
- 50% score on each of three to pass (can’t be their average)
- 70% or more on each of three for mastery certification
- 90 minutes to take each test
- 110 questions per test
- $325 per test for premium members, $350 for non-members
As for the qualitative experience of the exam, there’s less information about that. I found this old summation from the Tibco blog to be pretty accurate:
“So what are the questions like? How well do they test the knowledge and skills your organization would like to find in an employee? Love to know! But TDWI does not offer even generic examples from the test—though of course they do sell test-preparation manuals and workshops.”
As for more formal preparation, TDWI offers prep courses. You don’t need any formal training to take the exams, but, as you hopefully learned in school, studying helps. Numerous classes will be offered at this year’s TDWI Austin conference, held from Dec. 4-8, 2016.
The ICCP’s homepage states that “ICCP certifications result often in 10% to 20% increase in salary.” The TDWI doubles up, saying that people with the CBIP “command an average salary of $120,851—$15,000 more than the average for noncertified professionals.” Both figures come from the test makers, but there’s also third-party evidence of certification’s value. In a 2012 survey that asked high-earning tech professionals their salaries and their certifications, the average salary of 52 CBIP professionals was $109,943.
Business Intelligence Graduate Degrees
Another way to learn business intelligence is the academic route. Many universities, both online and offline, offer business intelligence certificates and concentrations. Those that don’t specifically offer BI certifications often certify students in related discipline like business analytics, data mining, data science, or a computer science degree with a concentration in one of these issues.
It would take too much space to account for all of the players in the extended business intelligence/big data space, but three good links for longer listings are this one from www.statslice.com, which is still mostly relevant despite its age, this one from www.mastersindatascience.org, and this one from data science site www.kdnuggets.com.
As for the big-name programs that specialize in business intelligence, a few of them are:
DU’s program bills itself as “one of the only programs that balances the three pillars of business intelligence: data management, analytics and business decisions.” Given the emphasis many business intelligence pundits put on understanding the tech and business sides of BI, Denver is worth a look.
BU advertises that its BI concentration will give students “experience in the design and implementation of operational databases as well as the data warehousing, data mining, and related business intelligence technologies for managing the enterprise.” In other words, the basics of BI. They also offer an online platform for this program. The bonus? You’ll be in Boston, one of America’s major tech hubs. The chance to go to the Beanpot doesn’t hurt, either.
Stevens is another major BI graduate program. For what it’s worth, the only Stevens-related answers on Quora are all good. Given the hate sponge that is the internet, a 100% positive rating, even from four people, is worth something.
Like Denver’s program, Carnegie Mellon advertises its interdisciplinary approach to BI: “cross-trained in business process analysis and skilled in predictive modeling, GIS mapping, analytical reporting, segmentation analysis, and data visualization.” It’s a solid bet, despite Pittsburgh’s whole fries-on-sandwiches thing.
Pennsylvania seems to turn out BI programs like it used to quarterbacks. St. Joseph’s program is offered through the business school, but it’s STEM-approved. Given how many BI implementations fail because of miscommunication between the business and tech sides, that duality is a definite selling point. If you don’t have time for the full M.S., St. Joseph’s also offers a graduate certificate in BI.
Dallas isn’t just a major energy industry hub, it’s also home to UT Dallas’s certificate in BI and data mining. It doesn’t hurt to learn business intelligence in a town where oil companies are looking for talent. It’s also close to what may be the finest bar in the continental United States.
Business Intelligence Vendor Training
Most vendors offer training and support when you invest in their BI solution, but some go the extra mile by offering a certification in their product.
One of the best-known vendor trainings is from BI giant SAS. A number of the BI certificates you’ll get from higher ed, some of the above included, certify you for SAS. If a business you’re applying to uses a certain product, getting vendor training might not be a bad idea.
There are, however, people who doubt the value of vendor training. Since the BI marketplace moves fast, some hesitate to spend the time and money to train on a product that may be defunct within a year. Barry Parr, of BI firm Chartio, cautions that a certification’s value might have an expiration date.
As tools get easier, routine reporting is going to be less valued. Analysts are going to have to be more skilled in programming, SQL, and statistics. Meanwhile, the traditional BI market is highly fragmented and some major players could be at risk. I’d also be wary specializing in any particular analytical tool, with the possible exception of Tableau.
In other words? Vendor-specific training may not be the best idea in a rapidly changing BI marketplace.
Your business intelligence
Did you get certified by a business intelligence program I missed? Are you a CBIP and glad for the experience? Let me know in the comments below.
Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.