Salary Survey Extra: Rating Big Data certification study materials
Posted on
September 21, 2017
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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of both our annual Salary Survey and our smaller Salary Survey PLUS polls. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Which study materials will be most effective at preparing your for a Big Data certification exam? We have answers.

Remember the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups marketing campaign that told everyone that there's "no wrong way to eat a Reese's"? (Anyone else feel like half of everything they've ever managed to internalize in life is ad slogans?) Certification is sort of like that.

Not in the sense that certification is sweet and delicious, and that you should swipe all of the certifications out of your kids' trick or treat bags after they go to bed on Halloween. More in the sense that there are multiple means of preparing yourself to get certified, and no one of them is more "right" or "wrong" for a given learner than any of the others.

(Well, OK, brain dumps are a certification no-no, and they don't really help you do anything except maybe pass a multiple choice test.)

Some methods of certification preparation tend to be more useful (and more widely used) than others, however, and it can be helpful to know what tends to work best for most individuals. So in our recent Big Data Salary Survey, we asked survey respondents to tell us which study materials help them learn and prepare most effectively for their most recent certification.

Here's what we learned:

Method of Study Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Excellent Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Very Good Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Good Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Fair Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Poor Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Does Not Apply
Self-study books 22 percent 26.6 percent 30.3 percent 8.3 percent 0.9 percent 11.9 percent
Product Documentation 17.4 percent 31.2 percent 23.8 percent 18.3 percent 1 percent 8.3 percent
Instuctor-led training at training center 12.8 percent 36.7 percent 12.8 percent 3.7 percent 2.8 percent 31.2 percent
Vendor-authorized boot camp 6.4 percent 17.4 percent 15.6 percent 2.8 percent 2.8 percent 55 percent
On-the-job training 26.6 percent 37.6 percent 16.6 percent 4.6 percent 1.8 percent 12.8 percent
Practice exams 24.8 percent 26.6 percent 22.9 percent 11.9 percent 2.8 percent 11 percent
Online university or e-learning course 22 percent 29.3 percent 15.6 percent 3.7 percent 4.6 percent 24.8 percent
Internet mailing lists or forums 1.8 percent 13.8 percent 10.1 percent 16.5 percent 12.8 percent 45 percent
Computer-based training or simulations 13 percent 17.4 percent 28.4 percent 7.3 percent 4.6 percent 29.3 percent
Community or technical college courses 5.5 percent 11.9 percent 12.8 percent 9.2 percent 3.7 percent 56.9 percent
Brain dumps from web sites 3.7 percent 9.2 percent 14.7 percent 11.9 percent 5.5 percent 55 percent

2017 Big Data Salary Survey: Refers to materials used by survey respondents to prepare for their most recently taken exam.

The Does Not Apply column is always interesting here, because it serves as a gauge of how many people actually do or do not use a given class of study materials, whatever they think of its overall effectiveness.

For example, more than half of all respondents have no use for boot camps or classes at the local community or technical college. On the other hand, although 55 percent of respondents just say not to online brain dumps, 45 percent used them at least enough to form an opinion of their usefulness.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Does Not Apply column also reveals that more than 90 percent of certified Big Data professionals committed to at least some level of preparation involving product documentation — reading the manual, in essence. Not even the reliably valued practice exams and self-study books can claim that breadth of usage.

On the other hand, both practice exams and self-study book have strong ratings of "excellent" or "very good." The champ in that regard, however, is the learn-by-doing approach of on-the-job training, rated excellent by 26.6 percent of respondents, and very good 37.6 percent of respondents. The best way to ensure success on your next Big Data certification exam, it would seem, is to get a Big Data job.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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