Professional development

CompTIA Data+ certification: Opening doors to new careers

Drew Robb
November 16, 2023 by
Drew Robb

In the face of an explosion in the volume of data being generated and stored, analytics has become more critical than ever. People who possess the right skills and experience in data analytics are in high demand. 

According to the ISACA State of Cybersecurity 2023 report, data-related skills are among one of the biggest skills gaps seen in today’s cybersecurity professionals. In addition, a study by International Data Corp found that jobs requiring digital skills, especially data analytics and visualization, are expected to grow 37% globally by 2026. 

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CompTIA’s new Data+ certification 

It is no surprise that CompTIA is looking to prepare professionals for this reality with a new CompTIA Data+ certification. 

"For years, people have been saying they need more data analysts, even if the words analyst or data or information aren't even in their job titles," said James Stanger, the chief technology evangelist at CompTIA, on a recent Cyber Work Podcast. "They need more and more people who can turn data into actionable information." 

That's why Data+ was created. Beyond being a skill set specific to IT or data scientists, the democratization of data means that many people now need data and analytics skills to perform their jobs.  

The basic concept behind Data+ is to get people to understand the data life cycle to differentiate themselves in the workplace. Take the case of someone working in HR. That function relies heavily on gathering employee data, personally identifiable information, work performance and more. HR personnel with data analytics skills can slice and dice that data to come up with revelatory insights about how people are working, the effectiveness of policy and which benefits are popular and unpopular. 

Data analytics is vital in cybersecurity 

As part of the overall data analytics democratization process, analytics skills have moved front and center in cybersecurity. These capabilities are vital when considering that the volume of IT management and cybersecurity data available makes it difficult or even possible for rapid review by someone in IT. Scanning tools, intrusion detection systems and other security applications churn out an endless array of logs and data. Security operations center staff are always poring over data from observability suites such as Splunk or QRadar. Networking personnel review router logs, endpoint logs and NetFlow data. Analytics can help them find patterns, anomalies and potential threats much faster than a human in most cases.  

Data+ certification can help cybersecurity professionals gather data sets, cleanse the data, make it easily searchable and visualize it to tell a story. The Data+ certification training can be done early in a cybersecurity career or as a mid-career choice to open new opportunities. It teaches the basics of databases, spreadsheets, scripting, ways to store information, the data lifecycle, searchability, information organization, data governance, privacy, the use of BI and analytics tools and more.   

“There are tons of people hiring right now for data analysts,” said Stanger. “Those with good data analytics skills don’t need to worry much about layoffs in the tech sector.” 

Upskilling with data analytics 

There has been a lot of talk of late about the need for the existing IT and cybersecurity workforce to upskill. This is good general advice — but data analytics is a specific area that is likely to pay off in the long term. 

“Skills have become the global currency of the 21st-century economy,” said Steve Fazio, data governance lead at data management vendor Talend. “In a world where competition for jobs, pay increases and professional success continues to increase, certifications offer a credible, third-party assessment of one’s skill and knowledge for a given subject.” 

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Thus, we are seeing the level of interest broadening in analytics and visualization certification courses. People in unrelated fields are beginning to see such training to increase their effectiveness and career prospects. 

"Companies need to find new ways to attract and retain talent, and a reskilling program is one component such as certifications to document and legitimize skills and knowledge," said Tom Strong, Director of Employer Activation, National Fund for Workforce Solutions. "Partnering with local academic institutions and other entities such as technical schools and certification programs could help with reskilling." 

In a turbulent job market, certain skills are prized more than others. The combination of cybersecurity and data analytics is hard to beat. 

For more, listen to the full Cyber Work Podcast, CompTIA Data+ certification: Is it a good fit for your career? 

Drew Robb
Drew Robb

Drew Robb has been writing about IT, engineering and cybersecurity for more than 25 years. He's been published in numerous outlets and resides in Florida.

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