Certification Survey Extra: Rating Big Data certification study materials

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Which Big Data certification study materials are most effective at helping certified professionals prepare for exams?Just as with skinning the proverbial cat, there is more than one way to study for a certification exam. As anyone who has been through the pre-exam preparation phase could attest, there are numerous different kinds of IT certification study materials available, and there’s not necessarily a “right way” to choose from among them.

Even newcomers to IT, for example, probably have some idea whether they learn better by reading from a book or listening to someone else explain concepts. There are videos, online classes, and in-person classes. Some people get informal advice from others via internet forums or mailing lists. Computer learning platforms often blend a variety of teaching methods.

For our recent Big Data Certification Survey, we asked certified Big Data professionals what works for them. Survey respondents rated the effectiveness, per their most recent certification experience, of various certification study materials. As always, respondents had the option to mark “Does Not Apply” for study methods that were foreign to their experience.

Here’s what we learned:

Method of Study Percentage of Respondents who rate this method ExcellentPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Very GoodPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Good Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Fair Percentage of Respondents who rate this method PoorPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Does Not Apply
Self-study books28 percent20 percent 32 percent8 percent4 percent8 percent
Product Documentation 8 percent32 percent40 percent16 percent4 percent[No responses]
Instructor-led training at training center8 percent32 percent20 percent12 percent[No responses]28 percent
Vendor-authorized boot camp 8 percent12 percent24 percent20 percent[No responses]36 percent
On-the-job training 16 percent16 percent32 percent24 percent4 percent8 percent
Practice exams 16 percent28 percent36 percent8 percent[No responses]12 percent
Online university or e-learning course 12 percent40 percent12 percent16 percent4 percent16 percent
Internet mailing lists or forums 4 percent20 percent32 percent16 percent8 percent20 percent
Computer-based training or simulations 16 percent24 percent32 percent16 percent4 percent8 percent
Community or technical college courses 12 percent20 percent12 percent24 percent4 percent28 percent
Brain dumps from web sites 4 percent24 percent24 percent16 percent4 percent28 percent

2019 Big Data Certification Survey: Refers to materials used by survey respondents to prepare for their most recently taken exam.

Self-study books and practice exams tend to be the most popular and relied on methods of study in our surveys, and there’s further evidence of that here. Self-study book got our strongest rating of Excellent, and also had solid Very Good and Good numbers. Practice exams didn’t score quite as well in the Excellent column, but are widely deemed Very Good or Good.

Online learning courses, whether from universities or independent providers also got a strong vote of confidence, with 40 percent of respondents rating them Very Good, and a further 24 percent putting them down as Excellent (12 percent) or Good (12 percent). Product documentation and instructor-led training also get high marks.

Interestingly, product documentation is the only method in the survey that didn’t get any Does Not Apply responses. So even though 20 percent of survey respondents didn’t get much out of, in essence, reading the manual, rating product documentation either Poor (4 percent of those surveyed) or Fair (16 percent), everyone who took the survey included some degree of product documentation in their exam preparation.

Even seemingly archaic methods of study and preparation like interacting with peers in forums and via mailing lists didn’t suffer the indignity borne by boot camps of being the least popular approach listed. While most who did choose boot camps gave them high marks (an not a single respondent rated them as Poor), 36 percent of respondents steered clear of that route entirely.

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CertMag Staff


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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