Certifications / CompTIA

Is the CompTIA Data+ Worth It?

by Ross Heintzkill
Is the CompTIA Data+ Worth It? picture: A
Published on August 3, 2022

When the era of big data started, companies rushed to get their hands on tons and tons of data. Now, those same companies are finding themselves with more data and information than they know what to do with.

It doesn't just take the right data to predict customers' needs, anticipate market trends, and speed development of products. It takes the right people. Those companies and organizations need IT professionals who are specially trained and certified in handling data, doing something with it, and turning it into something more valuable. The Data+ is the best certification for proving you're that person. Read on and learn if the Data+ from CompTIA is worth it for you and where you're at in your career.

What is the CompTIA Data+?

The CompTIA Data+ certifies that an analyst has the knowledge and skills necessary to find all the data relevant to organizational business requirements and help make the best possible decisions. It's a certification that tests your ability to find the right data for a given question and interpret it efficiently and accurately. But it doesn't stop there – someone with the Data+ also knows how to present those findings in ways that explain and persuade without being confusing.

The key to understanding the Data+ certification starts with recognizing that data-driven business decision-making isn't just about having data. Sure, acquiring data is a key factor in making data-centric decisions, but it's not the only factor. Another factor is being able to transform huge amounts of that data into something useful and relevant. And so is applying statistical methods that reveal truths hidden within the data. Last, data-driven decision-making must include understanding the governance controls that apply to the systems and data.

The Data+ from CompTIA tests all of those skills. Additionally, it does it in a vendor-agnostic way, proving that you can be an excellent data analyst in any setting, not just with one software or hardware configuration. Earning the CompTIA Data+ certification requires passing only one exam: the DA0-001 exam.

What Does the Data+ Test?

The CompTIA Data+ exam covers five separate sections related to data analysis and data-driven business decision-making. The five sections on the Data+ exam are:

  • Domain 1: Data concepts and environments

  • Domain 2: Data mining

  • Domain 3: Data analysis

  • Domain 4: Visualization

  • Domain 5: Data governance, quality and controls

The exam you'll have to pass to earn the Data+ is DA0-001. It's a 90-minute exam with 90 questions on it. Like all of CompTIA's exams, the content is vendor-agnostic. That's a good thing because it means you don't chain yourself to a certain technology. But it also means that in order to pass the CompTIA Data+, you have to have a comprehensive understanding of all five sections.

How Much Does the CompTIA Data+ Exam Cost?

It costs $239 to attempt the exam for the Data+, DA0-001. Obviously, you don't get the money back if you fail – and you only get one chance, so you want to make sure you're ready to pass the exam on your first attempt. The Data+ certification lasts for three years from the date of your exam. After that, you'll need to take continuing education courses to maintain your certification. Since it lasts for three years, technically the CompTIA Data+ exam costs about $80/year.

What Experience Do You Need for the Data+?

Formally speaking, you can attempt the Data+ at any time. Unlike professional organizations and associations, CompTIA isn't concerned with regulating who can call themselves a certain job title according to how much experience they have or time they've got in the job. But that doesn't mean you should just attempt the DA0-001 exam at any time. Even for analysts who've been working with big data for years, there are a lot of things you should know before attempting the exam.

First of all, you'll want to have experience with data concepts and environments. You should know the difference between common data structures and file formats and how to navigate data schemas and different factors that play into manipulating their dimensions. You should have extensive experience with data mining before you attempt the Data+. The test will cover a lot of different data acquisition concepts and approaches, as well as how to cleanse and profile data sets.

One of the key topics you'll want plenty of experience with before attempting the Data+ is data analysis. The CompTIA Data+ exam tests your familiarity with descriptive statistical methods and different types of analysis and critical analysis techniques. Visualization is a part of data analysis that many people overlook when preparing for the Data+ — a substantial portion of the exam is about showing you know the right report, dashboard or design component for given datasets. Last, make sure you have experience with important data governance concepts and can prove you understand appropriate data quality control concepts.

Who Should Take the CompTIA Data+?

CompTIA calls the Data+ an early-career certification, which means it's a good certification for analysts who are just getting started or trying to carve out a niche for themselves. If you manipulate datasets, or manage data governance in your job, you should take the Data+ from CompTIA.

Is Data+ Worth it for Data Analysts?

Yes, the Data+ is worth it for data analysts. It doesn't matter if you're just getting started in the career field or you're trying to establish yourself as a solid professional before getting promoted to more advanced positions, the Data+ is an easy way to show your experience and familiarity with a wide array of data analysis-related skills and technologies.

No other certification tests your ability to mine, analyze and visualize data regardless of what hardware or software ecosystem you find yourself in. CompTIA is trusted and respected in all corners of the IT world, and the Data+ is a well-rounded representation of what a data analyst should know to be successful in their job.

Is CompTIA Data+ Worth it for Marketing Analysts?

Yes, the Data+ is worth it for marketing analysts as well as analysts who work in sectors less commonly associated with big data. If it's your job to make data-driven business decisions but you wouldn't typically refer to yourself as a data analyst, there's still plenty on the Data+ for you and your career.

Understanding where data can be housed and how to access it in different formats is crucial for being a well-rounded marketing analyst, and similarly so is showing you know how to execute a number of different data manipulation techniques.

Is Data+ Worth it for a Network Administrator?

The Data+ isn't worth it for most network administrators, but there are some network administrators who will find it very valuable. If you run cables and install hardware, there are other certifications like Network+ that you should spend your time earning. But if you analyze the metrics and information coming off of network traffic and need to get a better understanding of how to read, visualize and make decisions with all that data, the Data+ is definitely worth it.

It's never a bad idea to expand your experience and round out your credentials. A network administrator who earns the Data+ demonstrates that they know how to make really smart decisions with all the relevant data taken into account. 

Is the CompTIA Data+ Worth It?

CompTIA's Data+ is a great certification for anyone whose job requires that they make business decisions based on data. If you have to go seeking data, process tons of information into useful data, or persuade others of your findings, the Data+ is a good way to demonstrate to your peers and employers that you understand the fundamentals.

CompTIA's certifications are well-regarded in large part because they don't tie the person who earns them to a certain technology or vendor. If for no other reason, the Data+ is worth it because it says you're a competent data analyst in any environment and can bring that expertise to whatever technology ecosystem you go.

Using Data+ to Learn Skills

The Data+ is basically a catalog of all the things you need to know before you can call yourself a competent data analyst. So if you're relatively new to the career field, taking a course that's designed to help you prepare for the Data+ is a great way to learn the skills of data analysis thoroughly.

Even if you've already got several years of experience as a data analyst, there's no other certification that covers all the skills the Data+ does from a vendor-agnostic perspective. Consider some of the competition: the SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics tests whether or not an analyst can use SAS Visual Analytics to produce meaningful results. The Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate tests your ability to use Microsoft BI. The Data+ covers all the generic skills any analyst should have.

Using CompTIA Data+ to Validate Skills

There's one last reason to consider the Data+. If you're a data analyst with years of experience, you can earn the Data+ to prove that you've got the skills and experience employers are looking for. If you're a pro when it comes to data acquisition, if your data analysis skills are unrivaled, if you can translate data into the perfect visualizations and you've got a great handle on the governance that regulates your industry's data, then earn the Data+ and prove it!


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