About the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

About four months ago I decided to take my passion for decision science to a new level by pursuing the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification.

CAP Logo

Coming from a non-technical background, some people (particularly those with computer science backgrounds) were skeptical of my knowledge and abilities working with large amounts of data and writing predictive models.  (Ironically, one of the same data scientists with a heavy CS background inspired a separate post on the pitfalls of common data cleaning procedures.)  I feel a relevant certification is a great way to give others confidence in my foundation of knowledge in data analytics.

The CAP seems to be the best branded, most well recognized, and best sponsored option for data science related certifications.  In a July 2014 article titled 16 big data certifications that will pay off in CIO magazine, the CAP exam was listed as the first item on the list.

Here’s a chart of the popularity of the certification from www.google.com/trends/:

This is not an advertisement.  I’m not being paid by INFORMS and there are other certifications through Coursera, DataCamp, and a many other online learning institutions that want to sell courses.  Datasciguide.com has a complete listing with reviews for each.  Check them out if you think they might be right for you.  But the CAP certification was right for me.  I wanted a reputable certification, not online courses.  The CAP program is an initiative of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), a professional organization with over 11,000 highly educated (50% PhD) members.  I liked the idea of this well-established organization backing the certification.  Information on the CAP program can be obtained at certifiedanalytics.org where interested parties can find information on requirements and download a free study guide.  They post a register of everyone who has earned the CAP so potential clients and employers can validate your knowledge.

Unfortunately, the INFORMS study material did not give me enough preparation material to fell a warm, fuzzy confidence walking into the exam.  There are only 51 total sample questions available.  That not many.  INFORMS’ free study guide is a great read but it didn’t go into the detail I needed to find answers those 51 sample questions.  The actual exam is 3 hours and 100 questions… oh dear.  I previously studied for the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Project Management Professional (PMP) exams and found more than enough quality material and practice questions for those topics.

Well, the good news is that through hard work and self study I was able to pass the exam on my first try!  Good news for me, and also for you!  Since there still isn’t much information on the exam, I’ll be sharing the preparation curriculum my wife developed to help other decision scientists who are interested in sitting for the exam.  My wife has a Masters Degree in Education and understands the psychology of learning.  She pulled together a rock solid learning program that helped me feel confident in all but a couple questions on the actual exam.  I’ve I’ll also write some practice questions based on my memory of the test.  Subscribe to my blog to get notifications of updates.