The shortage of data analytics professionals forecast for the next few years means enterprises may be hiring people without knowing for sure if they can do the job.
But the folks at INFORMS hope the organization’s new certification program will be the industry’s proverbial gold seal of approval for analytics professionals.
INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (and publisher of Analytics magazine), will hold the first exams for its new Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification next April 7-9 at the 2013 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research in San Antonio, Texas. A second test will be conducted next October 6-9 at the 2013 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.
“When businesses think they need something and there’s a shortage of talent, the question is, how do you know somebody is capable of doing the work?” asks Jack Levis, director of Process Management for UPS, who serves as an INFORMS board member and co-chair of the institute’s certification task force.
One way, of course, is for candidates to earn certifications from awarding organizations based on a combination of their education, professional experience and performance in a certifying examination. Such organizations inevitably arise to meet perceived demand.
“There was a period of time when businesses were saying, ‘You really need project management to be more effective,’” Levis says. “Business paid attention to that, and out of it came the Project Management Institute, or PMI. INFORMS’ goal is to be the premier organization for advanced analytics professionals.”
Bill Klimack, a decision analysis consultant for Chevron, INFORMS board member and Levis’s co-chair on the certification task force, says technology certification programs “accelerate growth and maturation.”
“My personal perspective is that certification is becoming more important in many fields,” Klimack says. “This seems to be a result of accelerating change. Certification programs help cope with the environmental change by providing a clear model for standards and advancement.”
Not everyone can just walk in and take the CAP exam. To be eligible, candidates must have:
- A BA/BS or MA/MS degree
- For BA/BS holders, at least five years of analytics work-related experience in a related area
- For MA/MS holders, at least three years of analytics work-related experience in a related area
- At least seven years of analytics work-related experience for BA/BS (or higher) holder in an unrelated area
- Verification of soft skills/provision of business value by employer
INFORMS’ CAP certification exam costs $495 for members and $695 for non-members. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours.
The sections (or “domains”) in the exam and their weight toward the final score are:
- Business problem (question) framing – 15%
- Analytics problem framing – 17%
- Data – 22%
- Methodology (approach) selection – 15%
- Model building (16%)
- Deployment (9%)
- Life cycle management (6%)
Levis says the exam is a result of collaboration between advanced-analytics educators and practitioners. About three-quarters of INFORMS’ 10,000 members are in the academic world, with the rest working in the field.
More than 200 analytics professionals from the U.S., Europe and Asia/Pacific offered input into the structure of the test’s sections. Once the framework was established about 50 members volunteered to write test questions.
Klimack says INFORMS new certification will be beneficial for both analytics pros and organizations, especially those enterprises that may lack resources.
“Certification helps codify professional advancement,” he says. “This may not be needed at large firms with many analytics professionals, but will be helpful at many companies.”