Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Digital Analytics Certifications: They're a Thing

Certifications are huge. In our vast industry of information systems there are many well-established and highly impressive certifications that have been getting certified job-seekers more jobs and higher salaries for decades. We have technical certifications that promise the holder has the ability to set up and configure hardware, like the CompTIA A+. There are also certifications that demonstrate knowledge of a methodology, like the PMP and CISSP do for project management and information security.

However, digital analytics is a relatively new field, and there are no certifications as widely established or recognized as the PMP or CISSP. That's not to say there aren't organizations trying to certify people for their analytic expertise...Adobe, the Digital Analytics Association, and Market Motive (a company co-founded by the author of our text) all offer to certify applicants in digital analytics. But which of these is the most valuable? Adobe, because of their sheer size and market share of the field? The DAA, because of its specificity and dedication? What about Market Motive? Below I'll examine some characteristics of each and try to determine which might be worth your time.

Adobe Certified Expert (ACE): Digital Analyst
This is a five-day, classroom-based training course offered by Adobe. Other certifications allow applicants to study on their own and simply pay a few hundred dollars to take the exam online (usually at a proctored testing center) when they think they're ready. This is not the case for the ACE: Digital Analyst certification. The five-day training is required, and is available only at specific dates in certain cities a few times a year. The next one is in San Francisco, in April.[1]  Adding to that inconvenience is the fact that it costs $4,500 to enroll, which might be wasted if you don't pass the exam on the fifth day. 

Digital Analytics Association (DAA): Certified Web Analyst
The DAA is a not-for-profit, volunteer-powered association whose goal is to make digital analytics more commonplace in business. To become DAA certified you need to have a four year degree, as well as three years of web analytics experience.[2] If you meet these eligibility requirements you can pay $700 to take the certification exam. One nice bonus the DAA offers is that should you fail on your first try, it's only $99 to re-take. This seems to be the most common digital analytics certification, perhaps partly because the process is so similar to more popular types of certifications.

Market Motive Master Certification: Web Analytics
This is a 12-week online course, designed and published by Avinash Kaushik. It seems to market itself as comparable to a graduate-level college class, and its cost represents that: $3,500. There are several homework assignments, quizzes, and a real-world project to complete, but no exam. As long as you pass the course, you get the certificate. Unlike the DAA certification, no past experience is required, making this perhaps the most reasonable option for someone wanting to be certified before launching a career in the field. 

In conclusion, the DAA certification seems to be not only the most widely-recognized, but also the least expensive. Digital analytics is a discipline new enough that it shouldn't be too hard to get a job without one of the (apparently pretty uncommon) certifications. A bit of experience with digital analytic software ought to be sufficient to find an entry-level position. If, after 2-3 years, it seems like a certification would be beneficial, the DAA: Certified Web Analyst will be a great option.