Today IBM and Coursera launched an online Data Science Professional Certificate to address the shortage of skills in data-related professions. This certificate is designed for those interested in a career in Data Science or Machine Learning, and equips them to become job-ready through hands-on, practical learning.

IBM Data Science Professional Certificate

IBM Data Science Professional Certificate

In this post we look at

  • why this certificate is being created (the demand),
  • what is being offered,
  • how it differs from other offerings,
  • who it is for,
  • the duration and cost,
  • what outcomes you should expect,
  • and your next steps.

Why this Professional Certificate
Data is collected in every aspect of our existence. The true transformative impact of data is realizable only when we can mine and act upon the insights contained within the data. Thus it is no surprise to see phrases such as “data is the new oil” (Economist).

We see organizations in most spaces seeding data-related initiatives. Companies that leverage and act upon the gems of information contained within data will get ahead of the competition – or even transform their industries. The transformative aspect of data is also applicable to the not-for-profit sector, for the betterment of society and improving our existence.

A variety of data related professions are relevant: Data Scientist, Data Engineer, Data Analyst, Database Developer, Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst, etc., and the most prominent of those is Data Scientist. It has been called “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by the Harvard Business Review, and Glassdoor calls it the “best job in America”.

Job listings and salary profiles for this profession clearly reflect this. When we talk to our clients we see a common thread: they can’t find enough qualified people to staff their data projects. This has created a tremendous opportunity for data professionals, especially Data.

In a recent report, IBM projected that “by 2020 the number of positions for data and analytics talent in the United States will increase by 364,000 openings, to 2,720,000”. The global demand is even higher.

Even though Data Science is “hot and sexy” and might enable you to get a great job today, the question is will it continue to be in demand and important going forward?

I certainly believe so, at least for another decade or more. Data is being created and collected at a rapid pace, and the number of organizations leveraging data is also expected to increase significantly.

“IBM’s Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera fulfills a massive need for more data science talent in the US and globally,” said Leah Belsky, Vice President of Enterprise at Coursera. “Coursera offers online courses on everything from computer science to literature, but over a quarter of all enrollments from our 7 million users in the US are in data science alone. We expect IBM’s certificate will become a valuable credential for people wanting to start a career in data science.”

What we offer
It is with this in mind IBM developed the Data Science Professional Certificate. It consists of 9 courses that are intended to arm you with latest job-ready skills and techniques in Data Science.

The courses cover variety of data science topics including: open source tools and libraries, methodologies, Python, databases and SQL, data visualization, data analysis, and machine learning. You will practice hands-on in the IBM Cloud (at no additional cost) using real data science tools and real-world data sets.

The courses in the Data Science Professional Certificate include:

  1. What is Data Science
  2. Tools for Data Science
  3. Data Science Methodology
  4. Python for Data Science
  5. Databases and SQL for Data Science
  6. Data Visualization with Python
  7. Data Analysis with Python
  8. Machine Learning with Python
  9. Applied Data Science Capstone

How it is different
This professional certificate has a strong emphasis on applied learning. Except for the first course, all other courses include a series of hands-on labs and are performed in the IBM Cloud (without any cost to you).

Throughout this Professional Certificate you are exposed to a series of tools, libraries, cloud services, datasets, algorithms, assignments and projects that will provide you with practical skills with applicability to real jobs that employers value, including:

  • Tools: Jupyter / JupyterLab, Zeppelin notebooks, R Studio, Watson Studio, Db2 database
  • Libraries: Pandas, NumPy, Matplotlib, Seaborn, Folium, ipython-sql, Scikit-learn, ScipPy, etc.
  • Projects: random album generator, predict housing prices, best classifier model, battle of neighborhoods

Who this is for
Data Science is for everyone – not just those with a Master’s or Ph.D. Anyone can become a Data Scientist, whether or not you currently have computer science or programming skills. It is suitable for those entering the workforce as well as for existing professionals looking to upskill/re-skill themselves and get ahead in their careers.

In the Data Science Professional Certificate we start small, re-enforce applied learning, and build to more complex topics.

I consider a Data Scientist as someone who can find the right data, prepare it, analyze and visualize data using a variety of tools and algorithms, build data experiments and models, run these experiments, learn from them, adjust and re-iterate as needed, and eventually be able to tell the story hidden within data so it can be acted upon – either by a human or a machine.

If you are passionate about pursuing a career line that is in high demand with above average starting salaries, and if you have the drive and discipline for self-learning, this Data Science Professional Certificate is for you.

“Now is a great time to enter the Data Science profession and IBM is committed to help address the skills gap and promote data literacy” says Leon Katsnelson, CTO and Director, IBM Developer Skills Network. “Coursera, with over 33 million registered learners, is a great platform for us to partner with and help with our mission to democratize data skills and build a pipeline of data literate professionals.”

Cost and Duration
The courses in this certificate are offered online for self-learning and available for “audit” at no cost. “Auditing” a course gives you the ability to access all lectures, readings, labs, and non-graded assignments at no charge. If you want to learn and develop skills you can audit all the courses for free.

The graded quizzes, assignments, and verified certificates are only available with a low-cost monthly subscription (just $39 USD per month for a limited time). So if you require a verified certificate to showcase your achievement with prospective employers and others, you will need to purchase the subscription. Enterprises looking to skill their employees in Data Science can access the Coursera for Business offering. Financial aid is also available for those who qualify.

The certificate requires completion of 9 courses. Each course typically contains 3-6 modules with an average effort of 2 to 4 hours per module. If learning part-time (e.g. 1 module per week), it would take 6 to 12 months to complete the entire certificate. If learning full-time (e.g. 1 module per day) the certificate can be completed in 2 to 3 months.

Upon completing the courses in this Professional Certificate you will have done several hands-on assignments and built a portfolio of Data Science projects to provide you with the confidence to plunge into an exciting profession in Data Science.

Those pursuing a paid certificate will not only receive a course completion certificate for every course they complete but also receive an IBM open badge. Successfully completing all courses earns you the Data Science Professional Certificate as well as an IBM digital badge recognizing your proficiency in Data Science. These credentials can be shared on your social profiles such as LinkedIn, and also with employers.

Sample Data Science Professional Certificate

Sample of IBM Data Science Professional Certificate

IBM and Coursera are also working together to form a hiring consortium. Learners who obtain the verified Certificate will be able to opt-in to have their resumes sent to employers in the consortium.

Next Steps
All courses in this Data Science Professional Certificate are live and available. Enroll today, start developing skills employers are looking for, and kickstart your career in Data Science.