This feature first appeared in the Spring 2015�issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
It's rare in 2015 to hear about the "discovery" of a new geographical feature, or the first documented visit of an adventurous human to a previously unexplored region. We may logically know that Earth is still a large enough place for an entire Boeing 777 to completely vanish with 239 people aboard � the fate that befell Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8, 2014 � but it often feels as though the planet sits, figuratively, in the palm of our hand.
While our physical frontiers may have dwindled, however, there's a whole new realm ripe for exploration. It's already vast, and getting larger by the moment, as computers record and store boundless bytes of data that describe everything from our shopping habits to our sleep patterns. And that's just in the realm of human behavior. The only thing bigger than our power to store information is our hunger to gather it. Consider that there are roughly 1,500 real-time weather stations in use just by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.
With all of that data flooding into thousands of databases around the world, there's an exploding need for qualified IT professionals to make sense of everything. Businesses have realized that hidden within the cavernous annals of input about almost anything that can be measured is information that can be monetized in various ways. Yes, there's gold in them thar data storage media.
In the future, perhaps sooner than we realize, somebody will unlock the Star Trek data access paradigm, and we can all just ask the computer to tell us what it knows. For the time being, however, it still takes human IT pros to organize and analyze data and bring those glittering nuggets of actionable intelligence to the surface. And there's still ample opportunity to get in the on the ground floor: 60 percent of the more than 800 Big Data professionals we surveyed got their first Big Data certification just in the past three years.
There are some veteran data techs out there (15 percent of survey respondents notched their first big data cert prior to 2005), but not nearly enough of them. A few years back, IT research and consulting firm Gartner projected that the global workplace would demand 4.4 million data scientists by 2015, but that only 1.5 million of those jobs would actually be filled. When's the last time you began an employment search in a field with nearly 3 million open positions?
The Compensation Question
Before you can get money out of Big Data, of course, you have to put money into it, and there's a healthy chunk of that money going to salaried professionals. According to our findings, the average base salary for Big Data professionals in 2014 was $82,420, and that figure rose to $88,820 this year.
There's also a positive trend in premium pay, which often corresponds to certification. About 54 percent of those who responded to our survey received bonus or incentive pay in 2014, with roughly 56 percent anticipating the same in 2015.Certification can also influence decisions about pay increases. Slightly more than 38 percent of respondents received a raise in the first year after earning their most recent Big Data certification.
Certification is generally not the only factor in such decisions, of course, though a notable 6 percent of those surveyed report that getting a raise was the direct result of getting a certification. The much more common estimation is that certification was either a key factor in getting a raise, as claimed by 12.7 percent of respondents, or one of several key factors (52.4 percent).Some certifications do appear to be valued more highly than others among employers, as indicated by our list of top salaries, though we weren't able to gather sufficient data about every certification in the survey to weigh them all against each other.
Whichever Big Data credential you hold, there's a good chance that it rather directly affects your job performance. In reference to their current jobs, nearly 75 percent of those surveyed said that they use skills learned or enhanced through Big Data certification either several times a day (42 percent), several times a week (19 percent) or several times a month (13 percent). TABLE TALK : So what did we do with all of our survey data? The same thing that they do in Hollywood, naturally. We created a power list of the Top Big Data Certs. Behold:
We learned a few other things, too. It's all available right now in our latest quarterly issue, or you can pull up a virtual chair and settle in here at CertMag.com for the big (and gradual) reveal.