You've just been shown into the examining room of a medical specialist who may be performing a surgical procedure on you in the near future. If you're like me, the first thing you do is look up at the tastefully framed credentials hanging just above your head on the wall. If someone is cutting into your heart or even just pulling a tooth, you want to make sure they have been certified to do the job.

Most professionals we come across in our daily lives have achieved some kind of certification. My father had to pass a Board of Ophthalmology exam before he could hang out his shingle as an eye doctor. There's a certification process involved in becoming a lawyer, a teacher or a CPA. Electricians can follow several levels of certification, from Apprentice, to Journeyman, to Master. Even chefs have certification programs though the American Culinary Federation that lead to Certified Fundamental Cook, Certified Sous Chef, Certified Executive Chef or Certified Master Chef levels.

Teradata's Certification program, which started in 1999, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and just as is the case with electricians and chefs, it provides multiple different exams leading to multiple levels of certification. Teradata Certification offers exams that cover the basics, and others that cover very focused role-based areas of technical expertise, such as database administration, application development or system architecture. If you’re really ambitious and take and pass all exams (or a designated subset), you can become a Vantage Certified Master.

These exams are refreshed and re-fashioned every few years. The following graphic represents the evolution of the Teradata Certification program through the years.
Picture1.png My involvement with the certification process began back with the initial Teradata V2R3 exams, mainly by helping to scope coverage and supporting technical content. I've continued to work with the certification program over the years and through different releases, and I'm happy to report that the exams keep getting more professional and the content more relevant.

The exam questions back in V2R3 were fairly straight-forward and didn't involve much deep analysis. The database back then was simpler and more limited in what it did. With a lot of study and effort, it was possible to get certified, even if you had never had any hands-on experience with Teradata.

I studied for all six exams in Teradata VR3 and with some significant effort, passed them all, achieving my first master status. And I've been doing the same ever since.

The content of the certification exams has evolved over time as Teradata has expanded its capabilities and new features have been introduced. At the same time, the exam questions have shifted from just testing book learning to validating direct experience and technical judgement.  Studying the recommended documentation is still a critical component in the preparation for passing certification exams, but on-the-job experience is now playing a role as well.  A certified individual in the past may have represented someone who was good at studying and remembering what they had read, while certification today represents someone who knows how to creatively apply that information and has the experience to back it up.

Sounds like a lot of work, so why bother?

Here's why: Achieving one or more certification levels makes you more marketable and can open doors when you are looking for a new job, or even when you are seeking advancement in your current career. Certification can differentiate you from your peers and may even increase your earning potential.
Achieving one or more certification levels makes you more marketable and can open doors when you are looking for a new job, or even when you are seeking advancement in your current career. Certification differentiates you from your peers.
Once established, it’s easy to make your Teradata certification visible. All Teradata certifications entitle the earner to an electronic badge that acts as a vehicle for displaying their competency at that level. Once earned, the electronic badge can be placed after your signature on your email or placed on your LinkedIn account, or in your resume, letting the world know about your achievements. 

While not being a job-seeker myself (I'm happy working at Teradata), my motives for continuing to stay certified are two-fold. First, preparing for certification exams is a self-education tool for me. It gives me extra motivation to study and learn about new parts of the Teradata ecosystem, such as QueryGrid or complex data types, and refresh my memory about new capabilities in the areas I am already familiar with, such as query optimization or advanced indexing.

Second, I believe my certification status gives me greater credibility when I speak or write about technical topics. And I have to confess, I'm someone who likes challenges, so I actually enjoy the preparation involved and the focused effort of taking the exams.

But nothing these days is standing still, certainly not with Teradata Certification. The current track has recently been renamed the "Vantage Track".  Plans are underway to produce new exams that are more skill-set oriented, for example offering certification for analysts. Thought is being given to a new non-technical certification called "Vantage for Everyone" which you do not have to be a techie to pass.  New forms of recognition are also under discussion, such as those related to skills development where nontraditional forms of learning can be utilized.

If you are a hiring manager, ask your next job candidate about their Teradata Certification level.  And if you're hoping to be on the other side of the interview desk, then take a moment today and go to the Teradata Certification web site and find out the possible certification levels you may be able to achieve, and what's involved. Establish your credentials, embellish your resume, and walk into your next interview with elevated confidence.

Even if you are not aiming to be a master chef or a heart surgeon, certification in your particular career specialty is definitely worth checking out. If your career path is Teradata, then follow this link to the Teradata Certification web site and get ready to roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in self-improvement.
Carrie Ballinger
Carrie Ballinger is a Vantage Certified Master with over 30 years with Teradata, currently working in the Technology & Innovation Office. During her tenure, she has focused extensively on workload management, statistics collection, MAPS, and other database technologies. Carrie is the author of more than 32 technical Orange Books, the most recent one on Native Object Store, and provides regular technical blog postings on Teradata Community.
View all posts by Carrie Ballinger

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