Business analysts are in high demand, with 24% of Fortune 500 companies currently hiring business analysts across a range of industries, including technology (27%), finance (13%), professional services (10%), and healthcare (5%), according to data from Zippia. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that business analyst jobs will grow 11% from 2021 to 2031.

Business analysts help organizations make the most of the data they collect by finding trends, patterns, and errors that might otherwise go unnoticed. Successful business analysts have the skills to work with data, the acumen to understand the business side of the organization, and the ability to communicate that information to people outside of IT. Top skills for business analysts include project management, data analysis, business analysis, user stories, and user acceptance, according to Zippia. And the top employers of business analysts include Google, Citi, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Amazon, Capgemini, and IBM.

Business analytics is a lucrative role in IT, with an average entry-level salary of $82,084 per year. Throughout their careers, business analysts report average salaries ranging from $66,000 to $103,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. One of the chief ways to kickstart a career as a business analyst or to earn more is through certification.

Certifications offer an avenue for professional development by offering credentials that demonstrate mastery of relevant job skills and expertise. Following are the most in-demand certifications for business analysts, broken out by where they fit best in the business analyst career path.

Business analyst certification for beginners

For entry-level business analysts, or anyone looking to change career paths, the following certifications can help get you started. These credentials are geared to those just starting out in analytics, demonstrating your overall abilities as an entry-level business analyst.

Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP)

The Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) is a vendor-neutral certification that validates your skills as an entry-level analytics professional and that you agree to adhere to the aCAP Code of Ethics. It’s the first step on the path to earning a Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) credential, which requires three or more years of experience in the industry. But for entry-level business analysts, the aCAP certification is designed for any level of education or experience. The exam will test your knowledge in seven domains of the analytics process: business problem framing, analytics problem framing, data, methodology selection, model building, deployment, and lifecycle management. The aCAP designation is a great way to start building your resume and demonstrating your proficiency in analytics, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.

Exam fee: $200 for INFORMS members, $300 for nonmembers

IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)

The Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) is the first level of certification with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). It is designed for less experienced and entry-level business analysts. You will need to complete at least 21 hours of professional training credits, within the past four years, before you will be eligible for the exam. You don’t have to renew your ECBA certification, but it’s assumed you’ll move on to the second or third levels of certification. For more, see our guide on the ECBA.

Application fee: $45Exam fee: $150 for IIBA members, $305 for nonmembersRetake fee: $95 for IIBA members, $250 for nonmembers

IQBBA Certified Foundation Level Business Analyst (CFLBA)

The International Qualifications Board for Business Analysts (IQBBA) offers the Certified Foundation Level Business Analysis (CFLBA) as an entry-level certification, which will qualify you to earn higher levels of certification. It’s a globally recognized certification with accredited exam and training centers across the world. It’s designed for “people involved in analyzing business processes within an organization, modeling businesses and process improvement.” The foundation level covers enterprise analysis, business analysis process planning, requirements elicitation, requirements analysis, solution validation, tools and techniques, innovation and design. Accredited training and exam centers in the United States are limited, with centers in Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas. But there are options to take training courses and exams online.

Exam fee: Varies by location

SimpliLearn Business Analyst Certification Masters Program

If you’re new to the industry or want to change careers and start on the path of a business analyst, SimpliLearn offers a Business Analyst Masters Program that is accredited by the IIBA. Through the program, you can opt to earn your CCBA certification as well as certifications in Agile Scrum Foundation, Digital Transformation for Leaders, Python for Data Science, and R Programming for Data Science. Completion of the program will also earn you 35 IIBA and 25 Project Management Institute (PMI) professional development units.

The course promises to make you an expert in Excel, CBAP, Tableau, Scrum, SQL, and CCBA. You’ll also learn how to build interactive dashboards, apply statistical tools and concepts, plan and track Scrum projects, understand business analysis key concepts, analyze data using Tableau, and more.

Course fee: $1,499

In-demand certifications for advanced business analysts

For business analysts already into their careers, there are several certifications that will help validate your advanced skills. As you progress through your career, these certifications can help demonstrate to employers that you have the right skills as an advanced business analyst.

Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) is a vendor-neutral certification that certifies your skills and ability to draw valuable insights from complex data sets to help guide strategic businesses decisions. To qualify for this certification, you will need a master’s degree in a related field and at least five years of relevant experience, or a bachelor’s degree in a related field along with seven years of experience in data or analytics.

Exam fee: $495 for INFORMS members, $695 for nonmembers

IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)

Level 2 of the IIBA certification, the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) requires a minimum 3,750 hours of business analytics work aligned with the IIBA’s Business Analysis Book of Knowledge (BABOK) guide in the past 7 years, 900 hours in two of six BABOK knowledge areas, or 500 hours in four of six BABOK knowledge areas. The certification also requires a minimum of 21 hours professional development training in the past four years and two professional references. The CCBA exam consists of 130 multiple-choice questions that are scenario-based and require some analysis. It covers fundamentals, underlying competencies, key concepts, techniques, and all six knowledge areas covered in the BABOK.

Application fee: $145Exam fee: $250 for IIBA members, $405 for nonmembersRetake fee: $195 for IIBA members, $205 for nonmembers

IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

The Certified Business Analysis Professional CBAP certification is the third level of certification with IIBA and it’s designed for “individuals with extensive business analysis experience.” To qualify for this certification, you’ll need a minimum of 7,500 hours of business analyst work experience in the past 10 years, 900 hours of work experience hours within four of the six BABOK knowledge areas, at least 35 hours of professional development in the past four years and professional references. The exam is 3.5 hours long and includes 120 multiple-choice questions that are based on case studies. After you pass, you’ll need to report at least 60 hours of continuing development units every three years. For more, see our guide on the CBAP.

Application fee: $145Exam fee: $350 for IIBA members, $505 for non-membersRetake fee: $295 for IIBA members, $450 for non-members

IIBA Agile Analysis Certification (AAC)

As a methodology, agile has been rising in importance for business analysts over the past several years, according to the IIBA. The association’s competency-based Agile Analysis Certification (AAC) exam was designed to address this skillset and to certify business analyst professionals working in agile environments, which require fast adaption and rapid change. The exam was developed using the Agile Extension to the BABOK guide and was released in May 2018. It is a standalone certification and is separate from the other IIBA business analyst certifications, which stack on top of one another.

The exam is offered through remote online proctoring and consists of 85 multiple-choice, scenario-based questions to be completed in 2 hours. The exam’s four main topics include agile mindset (30%), strategy horizon (10%), initiative horizon (25%), and delivery horizon (35%). Your certification will last for three years, at which point you’ll need to renew the certification. There aren’t any eligibility requirements to take the exam, but the IIBA recommends at least two to five years of agile-related experience.

Exam fee: $250 for IIBA members, $400 for nonmembersRetake fee: $195 for IIBA members, $350 for nonmembers

IIBA Certification in Business Data Analytics (CBDA)

The Certification in Business Data Analytics (IIBA-CBDA) from the IIBA is a new certification that “recognizes your ability to effectively execute analysis-related work in support of business analytics initiatives.” To pass the exam, you will need to examine a real-world business problem, identify the data sources and how to obtain data, analyze the data, interpret and report results from the data. You’ll then need to demonstrate how those results can influence business decision-making and guide company-level strategies for business analytics.

Exam fee: $250 for IIBA members, $400 for nonmembersRetake fee: $195 for IIBA members, $350 for nonmembers

IQBBA Certified Advanced Level Business Analyst (CALBA) 

The IQBBA Certified Advanced Level Business Analyst (CALBA) certification builds off the CFLBA foundation level cert, with the exam covering more advanced analytics skills and knowledge. You’ll be tested in your knowledge of business analysis process management, requirements management, and strategic analysis and optimization. The three modules cover higher-level concepts of business analytics such as strategy definition, solution evaluation and optimization, business analysis processes, people management, relevant tools and software, change management, conflict management, and more. The exam is multiple choice and you can choose to take a course prior, or study on your own time and take the exam when you are ready. The IQBBA announced an expert-level certification, but as of this writing it has not yet been released.

Exam fee: Varies by location

IQBBA Certified Agile Business Analysis (CABA)

The IQBBA Certified Agile Business Analysis (CABA) certification is designed to help bring more clarity to how agile can help maximize the effectiveness of business analytics. It aims to help business analysts have greater impact on agile software development projects. The exam covers how to identify the role of a business analyst in an agile development project, how to establish the responsibilities of a business analyst on an agile team, and how to integrate the concept of continuous improvement into analytics. The certification helps establish the role of a business analyst in an agile environment and offers a blueprint on how to integrate agile into the business analytics process.

Exam fee: Varies by location

IREB Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE)

The International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB) offers the Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE) certification is designed for those working in requirements engineering (RE), and it’s offered at three levels. The Foundation Level is first, where you’ll be certified in the basics of RE. The Advanced Level is next, where you can choose between three paths, including Requirements Elicitation and Consolidation, Requirements Modeling and Requirements Management — but you’ll need to wait 12 months after completing the first exam to take the advanced level exam. The Expert Level certifies you at the “highest level of expert knowledge,” which includes both your hands-on experience as well as your knowledge and skills gained through previous certifications.

Your certification will not expire, and you will not need to renew it. The IREB states that the CPRE is “based on the fundamental methods and approaches of Requirements Engineering, and these alter only slowly,” so at this time, they don’t see a need for renewal.

Exam fee: Varies by testing center

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) Certification

The PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) certification is designed for business analysts who work with projects or programs, or project and program managers who work with analytics. It’s offered through the Project Management Institute (PMI), which specializes in widely recognized project management certifications, such as the PMP. The certification focuses on business analysis training through hands-on projects and testing on business analysis principles, tools and fundamentals.

If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need at least three years’ experience, or 4,500 hours, in business analysis consecutively within the past eight years to earn this certification. Without a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need five years or 7,500 hours experience.

You’ll be required to earn 60 professional development units within three years after completing the certification to maintain your renewal status. If you let your renewal lapse, your credentials will be suspended for one year until you fulfill the requirements — after that, it will be terminated and you’ll need to reapply.

Exam fee: $405 for PMI members, $555 for nonmembers

Business Analyst, Careers, Certifications, IT Skills

While crystal ball technology is notoriously fallible, tech leaders say there are a handful of changes to IT work that we’ll likely see half a decade from now.

IT pros will work in environments that are more task-based than position-based, experts say, relying more on automation and AI, and using tools that are increasingly portable yet powerful. At the same time, automation through AI in particular will need a human touch, to review processes and results, creating a need for soft skills in the IT ranks that’s greater than ever.

Here’s a look at how IT workforces will operate and collaborate in the near-future enterprise.

Automation takes aim at IT productivity

Driven by AI advancements, IT work will increasingly be automated over the next five years, according to those on the forefront of those changes. In addition to general workplace enhancements, automation will play a vital role across IT domains, including software development, both streamlining IT processes and increasing IT productivity.

“IT leaders have led their organizations through immense workplace changes in the last three years, and it will only become more complex in five years’ time,” says Asana CIO Saket Srivastava. “Organizations are facing a shortage of resources and talent, so we need automation to be our ally to automate mundane, repetitive, and low-value tasks so that our talent can work on more impactful projects.”

Srivastava says companies will automate low-skill tasks to reduce mental load and save time. “Think about how you can implement advanced data science models to understand customer pain points and improve service,” he says.

Jim Flanagan, CIO at Hanscom Federal Credit Union, predicts natural language processing (NLP) will work in tandem with automation to improve the technology that IT staff rely on in the near future.

“NLP has the ability to discern intent, context, and ambiguity within written text and speech,” Flanagan says. “Our calendars will automatically plan our workday based on variables such as deadlines and estimated timeframes, and our inboxes will automatically group emails by priority, considering the sentiment of the sender’s message, ensuring that the most important emails get the quickest attention at our convenience. AI-driven do-not-disturb features will prevent us from getting emails when we need to focus, and this technology will help us to write email replies faster, often with minimal effort on our part.”

AI augments the value of IT work

Like many other industry experts, Mike Hendrickson, vice president of tech and dev products at Skillsoft, sees a bright future for AI in the IT workplace. But as Hendrickson sees it, IT’s AI future will be one of collaboration between IT staff and AI technologies. And as more work is handled by AI, literal people skills will be more important than ever, especially around troubleshooting automated processes.

TripActions CIO Kim Huffman agrees, saying that AI will reduce the number of repeated internal support requests that require human intervention, freeing up IT support employees for more personal interaction.

“We will see AI usage increase in software development and testing functions shifting the role of these employees” toward higher-level, personal-touch tasks, Huffman says. Mike Bechtel, chief futurist for Deloitte Consulting, cautions that adoption of AI for enhancing IT operations and employee productivity will require a new level of trust in the technology.

“An augmented workforce experience — across recruiting, productivity, learning, and more — will certainly be something to watch, as the level of trust that we will likely put in our AI colleagues may be surprising,” Bechtel says. “High confidence that AI is delivering the right analytics and insights will be paramount. To build trust, AI algorithms must be visible, auditable, and explainable, and workers must be involved in AI design and output. Organizations are realizing that competitive gains will best be achieved when there is trust in this technology.”

Moreover, increased reliance on AI for IT support and development work such as entry-level coding, as well as cloud and system administration will put pressure on IT pros to up their skills in more challenging areas, says Michael Gibbs, CEO and founder of Go Cloud Careers.

“With artificial intelligence replacing hands-on tech work, tech workers must increase their business acumen, leadership abilities, communication abilities, emotional intelligence, and architecture skills,” Gibbs says. “The world will need more people with deep architectural experience to further tie the new technologies together to maximize business performance.”

Skills-based teaming and dynamic sourcing

Speaking of skills, that emphasis on business acumen and deeper technical know-how will be coupled with a shift in which organizations in the next few years will seek flexibility by prioritizing skills over jobs, according to Deloitte research.

Deloitte’s Bechtel points to Mercedes-Benz, which he says has “organized some of its IT talent into ‘capability sets’ to improve flexibility for assigning staff to new roles or new products.” And Bechtel says the results speak for themselves: “Skills-based organizations are over 100% more likely to place talent effectively and 98% more likely to retain high performers.”

IT pros who tend to change jobs every few years may, in fact, be just what future organizations are looking for, and we may see a shift in the way the organizations think about long-term careers, he says. 

“Enterprises ahead of the curve are already crowd-sourcing talent, through gig workers or contractors, to fill gaps and free up their internal resources to focus on the most challenging and interesting work, and to the delight of those bored IT pros, we expect more organizations to take this approach,” Bechtel says.

Remote in full force

The pandemic accelerated the development of remote and hybrid teams, and that trend will only continue in the future, Bechtel says. Organizations whose IT employees who prefer working from home will also benefit by sourcing talent from all over the world.

“Given the rate of digital transformation, enterprises are demanding more from their technology teams and are sourcing talent globally,” he says. “Many technology workers have opted to stay remote, creating a more fluid workforce. In fact, 85% of IT divisions plan to be hybrid or fully remote going forward.”

Frank Opat, chief architect and vice president of architecture at Versapay, sees remote support work evolving in both scope and how the work is accomplished. 

“IT pros already know what it’s like to be on call, but with the continued rise of remote and hybrid work, geography and time zones are becoming less relevant,” Opat says. “I expect to see the continued need to adapt so that IT services are available around the clock. I’d imagine that this continued demand will see the rise of natural language process AI to handle things like tier 2 issues or frequently asked questions, much like you see in chat on websites for marketing and customer support today.”

As the impact of widely distributed organizations unfolds over the next few years, Wiley CTO Aref Matin says increasingly sophisticated ways of working remotely will improve collaboration. 

“Virtual and hybrid work is here to stay,” Matin says, “and I think that’s a great thing for technologists. In terms of culture, putting teams in a silo is the fastest way to dishearten them. In a physical workplace, this can be easy to do. I’m hoping that virtual work environments have shown leaders not only the benefit but the necessity of better connectivity between day-to-day work and business outcomes.”

Rehman sees a trend, especially among younger workers, of using mobile devices for IT work instead of being tied to a computer at work, or a desk for that matter.

“I see the next generation using phones for writing an entire doc,” he says. “I saw a kid coding on his phone the other day, not like C emulator stuff, but actual coding. Remember, languages are changing, and I see this more and more. There is a change in how tech workers use our attention span.”

And while it’s difficult to say how all these forces will impact IT salaries on the horizon, Hendrickson sees the confluence of AI and remote work freeing up additional budget for IT talent.

“The days of physical monitoring or fixing are gone. Most everything can be done remotely, and with cloud services and major providers being the future of tech infrastructure, there will be little need to go into a physical office, at least from an infrastructure point of view,” he says. “With the coupling of continued automation and the reliance on cloud technology, organizations can prioritize investments in talent, R&D, and skills and career development ahead of real estate.”

Either way, it’s going to be interesting seeing how the next five years unfold in the IT workplace.

Careers, IT Skills

Despite a recent push to address diversity issues in IT, data shows that Black professionals still face an uphill battle in the tech industry, receiving less recognition, opportunity, and acceptance than non-Black peers.

Because of this, according to a report from Russel Reynolds Associates and Valence, 47% of Black technology professionals “strongly agree” that they must switch between companies more regularly for career growth, whereas only 28% of non-Black respondents said the same.

To advance their careers and earn more pay, Black talent in the tech industry move employers every 3.5 years on average, while their non-Black peers report switching jobs every 5.1 years on average. This is especially common for those with less than 10 years of experience. According to the report, “on average, Black tech talent stays at each company for 2 years, while their non-Black peers stay for 4.5 years.”

In addition to providing Black IT pros less opportunity for advancement, companies that are not addressing issues that underlie this turnover are also costing themselves talent and money. The study assigns a value of $144,000 per tech employee, meaning that tech companies in aggregate lose the equivalent of $1.2 billion dollars each year because of inequitable and often unwelcoming work environments.

Here are six revealing statistics that show how far the IT industry still has to go before it can truly become a level playing field.

Unfair and hostile work environments

A study from The Kapor Center for Social Impact and The Ford Foundation found unfair treatment to be the top driver of employee turnover, in particular for employees from underrepresented groups. More than one in three Black participants in the 2017 survey said they left a job or company due to unfairness within the past year. Of those surveyed, 25% of underrepresented men and women of color reported experiencing stereotyping at twice the rate of White and Asian men and women — and nearly 30% of women of color say they were passed over for a promotion. Unsurprisingly, stereotyping and bullying were related to length of employment — the more toxicity experienced, the shorter the amount of time an employee will stay in their job. In a 2022 report, State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem, the Kapor Center found that nearly half of all Black technologists reported experiencing racial inequity in hiring, promotion, leadership opportunities, and salaries and benefits.

While most people adjust behaviors or appearance at work, Black tech talent are “more frequently code-switching in aspects deeply related to their identity, which elicits many questions about the way authentic ‘Blackness’ is received in the industry,” according to the report from Russel Reynolds Associates and Valence. Code-switching is the act of changing your behavior to better fit in to an environment and avoid drawing negative attention. The research shows that Black professionals are more than three times as likely than their non-Black peers to avoid sharing personal details about themselves, keep work and personal friend groups separate, change their hairstyles to be more “acceptable,” bring food to work that is considered more “mainstream,” and use a nickname or abbreviated name to feel more accepted at work.

Retaining hires from underrepresented groups requires re-examining your work environment to ensure it is welcoming for a diverse range of employees. If new hires quickly find your internal culture allows for microaggressions, hostility, a pressure to code-switch, and an inability to bring one’s authentic self to work, you can’t expect them to stay. Companies need to evaluate their workplace culture for bias, discrimination, and inequities to make sure everyone can feel safe and supported. If you’re experiencing a high turnover rate with people of color in your organization, that’s a red flag that significant changes need to be made.  

A lack of representation in leadership

Turnover not only costs companies billions in profits, it also negatively impacts leadership diversity, a crucial factor in creating a more diverse and welcoming working environment, as it is difficult for employees to imagine career growth at a company if they don’t see anyone that looks like them at the top.

report from McKinsey & Co. estimates that, at current tech hiring and promotion rates, it will take 95 years for Black employees to reach “talent parity” (12% representation) in the private sector. This is a disheartening statistic that won’t change without considerable work being done at the top. Between 2014 and 2021, the tech industry only increased black representation by 1%, according to data from the Kapor Center. Black workers are also paid 4% less than their peers and often hired into lower-level roles than they are qualified for. Black tech talent represents only 4.4% of board roles, 3.7% of technical roles, and 4% of executive leadership.

Both Black and non-Black professionals agree that their leaders “regularly exhibit inclusive leadership behaviors in some way,” but only 25% of both groups said that their leaders “always lead with fairness, objectivity, and transparency,” according to McKinsey. Companies shouldn’t take that information lightly — if employees in your organization don’t feel supported by leadership, they will leave. Organizations need to take honest stock of the state of DEI in the organization and create goals to change any inequities or implicit biases that are baked into the culture.

It’s important that everyone is represented at the top — when decisions are being made, everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Diversifying leadership isn’t just about hitting DEI goals, it’s about creating an environment that takes everyone into consideration equally when developing organizational goals. Leadership needs to be honest about representation in the organization and transparent about the company’s failings, while also setting clear targets to improve and to hold leadership accountable to DEI goals.

A lack of opportunity

Black tech professionals also face an “information disadvantage” when it comes to getting ahead in their IT careers. According to the Russel Reynolds Associates and Valence report, Black IT pros are often not afforded the same “level of insight into how the game is played, who they need to know, and how to plan their paths for success.” When asked, 78% of non-Black tech professionals said they understood the importance of networking in the industry, while 56% of Black tech talent said the same. And 57% of non-Black talent said they typically find out about open roles through their network, while only 39% of Black talent said the same.

There’s also a severe lack of sponsorship for Black tech talent in the industry. Sponsorship is different than mentorship because it’s directly tied to your ability to move up in the company. Having someone higher up in the organization who can vouch for you and champion your successes when it comes time for promotions is a huge factor in corporate success. Oftentimes, Black tech workers struggle to find sponsorship in the organization because leaders tend to sponsor workers who are more like them — typically white and male. Ensuring Black IT pros have the same opportunities for sponsorship as their non-Black peers can go a long way in ensuring they are afforded the same career growth opportunities as everyone else.

Evaluate your sponsorship programs to make sure they work for everyone. Connect Black talent in the organization with the resources and network to grow their careers, giving them the tools to understand how “the game” is played. Build performance reviews to have more structure and transparency, and make sure everyone in the company understands the expectations going into performance reviews, rather than just assuming they’re all on the same page or working with the same information.

Disparities in apprenticeship programs

Apprenticeship programs have become an increasingly popular way for companies to open the talent pipeline and to train employees on the IT and tech skills they need in the organization. As a work-based learning experience, apprenticeships allow individuals to earn a living while they learn new skills with the promise of a job opportunity at the end of the program. It’s part of a shift to skills-based hiring, instead of degree-based hiring, which eliminates 75% of Black adults from consideration, according to the New York Times. While there’s been an increase in representation, with 17% of tech apprentices identifying as Black over the past six years, according to the Kapor Center, there are still some stark disparities in what’s offered.

Kapor Center found that less than one-quarter of Black apprentices complete their apprenticeship, compared to 33% of white apprentices. This is due to several reasons, including racial discrimination and hostility, but also because companies often set up apprenticeship programs in career pathways that are at the highest risk for being displaced by automation. Black and women tech apprentices are also paid less than other apprentices, according to the report.

Apprenticeships are a great opportunity to open the talent pipeline, bring in more diversity, and upskill workers in your organization. It’s extremely important, however, to consider how you shape the programs and what opportunities are offered once completed. Ensuring that your apprenticeship programs offer everyone the same equity and opportunity is vital to fostering better diversity in the industry.

Higher standards, lower ceilings

Once Black tech professionals hit mid-career, they are more likely to express dissatisfaction with the performance evaluation process. Only 29% of Black tech professionals with 10 to 20 years of experience are satisfied with the equality of their “level of recognition and of the equality of their pay,” whereas 47% of non-Black professionals said the same. This group of mid-career professionals report being promoted nearly half as often as their non-Black counterparts, even with the same amount of experience. Black tech professionals with 10 to 20 years of experience report three promotions on average for their careers, while their non-Black coworkers report having received five or more promotions on average.

Another report from Russel Reynolds Associates, Divides and Dividends: Leadership Actions for a More Sustainable Future, found that 63% of C-suite leaders agree that leaders in their company show favoritism for employees who are like themselves, especially when it comes to promotions, and 62% agreed that it’s “easier for individuals of certain ethnicities or backgrounds to get promoted than others, regardless of their capability and performance.” This is only exacerbated when companies focus too heavily on hiring for a “culture fit,” especially if the culture is one that is not inclusive to all its workers.

Leaders need to take a hard look at their hiring and promotion practices and address processes that allow for bias and discrimination to play a part in who gets to advance in the company.

Outdated mindsets, moving goalposts

Senior Black tech talent and executives with 21 or more years of experience in the industry point to the fact that “the bar moves subjectively, no matter what.” Regardless of what they accomplish or contribute, this cohort of Black IT pros say they are often eliminated or overlooked for opportunities based on what they “haven’t accomplished,” an outdated and problematic mindset about “who is qualified to lead.” For many Black technology leaders, they believe that “no matter how much they achieve, it will never be enough,” and only 29% say they are satisfied with the career opportunities they’ve had to date, compared to 52% of non-Black tech professionals with the same level of experience.

Many Black executives and senior Black tech professionals say that one of the biggest roadblocks they have encountered has been a lack of access to “critical development experiences,” compared to non-Black counterparts. Nearly 90% of non-Black tech professionals with more than 20 years of experience have led “major company initiatives,” whereas only 61% of Black tech professionals with the same amount of experience can say the same. And nearly 25% of Black tech professionals with extensive experience in the industry do not feel they will have the chance to lead a major company initiative, whereas only 7% of their non-Black counterparts said the same.

Investing in leadership development is crucial, and it’s equally important to ensure your Black tech staff is receiving the same development opportunities as their non-Black peers. Ensure your leadership is trained on DEI and inclusive leadership skills — try interviewing leaders to get a sense of how they’d handle different scenarios related to diversity and recognizing implicit and internal bias. You can’t change inequities in your company culture overnight, but you can make concerted efforts and take steps in weeding out homogeneity in tech to build a more diverse and equitable industry.

This article was originally published on February 18, 2022, and has been updated to reflect new reporting and research.

Diversity and Inclusion

Despite a recent push to address diversity issues in IT, the industry as a whole has a long way to go. From hiring practices to advancement opportunities, most IT organizations are falling short, despite their best intentions, when it comes to fostering diverse workplaces where individuals of all backgrounds can thrive.

As a response to this ongoing lack of diversity in IT, several organizations dedicated to fostering diversity and advancing IT careers have been founded. These organizations focus on helping everyone from young adults to seasoned pros break into the tech industry, grow their careers, and find the guidance they need to be successful — all the way up to the C-suite.

Some diversity-focused organizations offer opportunities for corporate sponsors to partner in an effort to diversify their IT talent pipelines, while others offer standout technologists and IT leaders the chance to develop community, gain career insights, and learn career advancement strategies from peers and mentors who have had similar experiences in the IT industry.

Following are four standout organizations having an impact in bringing greater diversity to IT.

NPower uplifts underserved communities

For communities underrepresented in IT, access to opportunity can be a big barrier. Nonprofit NPower is working to change that by fostering opportunity for those outside traditional IT pipelines through its tuition-free Tech Fundamentals program, which has helped young adults from underserved communities, as well as military members, military spouses, and veterans, forge new careers in IT for over 20 years.

NPower recognizes that every student’s situation, background, and support system will look different, providing support for students who may need help finding rent relief, childcare, and mental health services. Students are taught the IT skills necessary for roles such as desktop analyst, business analyst, and junior project manager. Students are also given access to certification classes, resume workshops, interview practice, and support through the job search process.

“When you join NPower, you’re getting a family that will support you and your goals for the rest of your life. That’s very powerful,” says US military veteran Will Galey, who now works as an IT analyst EO&T apprentice at Citi after completing NPower’s program.

The organization, which was launched through a partnership with Microsoft, has a robust community of alumni, to whom it offers advanced programs in an effort to help ensure there’s diversity not only at the entry-level, but up the ladder to the C-suite.

NPower seeks volunteers and mentors from the IT community and provides ways for corporations to partner with NPower, including apprenticeship and internship programs, as well as full-time placements to help diversify companies’ IT pipelines.

DevColor empowers Black IT careers

BIPOC IT workers can often feel isolated working in an industry well-known for its lack of diversity. Nonprofit DevColor aims to change that, by providing opportunities for Black technologists to connect, gain career advice, and create community among those who share their workplace experiences.

The organization’s A* program brings together more than 50 cohorts of six to 10 mid- to senior-level leaders in the tech industry. These cohorts meet monthly over the course of a year, giving participants the chance to gain perspective, advice, and career help from others in the program. Through the group’s support, members can learn to navigate difficult conversations at work, obtain the necessary skills for high-level negotiations, and gain the confidence to “exhibit higher levels of self-advocacy,” says Rhonda Allen, CEO of DevColor.

Brian Mariner, a member of DevColor, says that although he had built up a “reasonable set of professional network opportunities,” he “didn’t have a lot of confidants in the industry either from school or professionally.” But after joining DevColor’s A* program, he has been able to develop a solid community of peers in the industry, enabling him for the first time in his career  to be “surrounded by software industry peers” and not feel like the “other” in the room.

Year Up diversifies the IT talent pipeline

Year Up is a nonprofit that aims to bridge the opportunity divide by serving economically disadvantaged adults ages 18 to 24. Students at Year Up attend a yearlong program where they learn IT skills for technical roles, followed by an internship with one of the organization’s many corporate sponsors.

During the first six months of the Year Up program, students receive training for soft skills and technical skills, and they learn what it will be like to work in a corporate tech environment. Once they complete the training, they spend the next six months working as an intern for their corporate sponsor, checking back in regularly with the Year Up program throughout.

The program is rigorous, and students are often juggling full-time jobs and other schooling while they complete it. But students are offered extensive support to help accommodate their schedules outside of Year Up and the internship.

“Much of my success in pursuing a career in IT is attributable to Year Up for creating a coaching environment which helped me to uncover my potential and aspirations,” says Mikayla Dyer, who now works as an Agile Scrum master at Morgan Stanley since completing the program.

For corporate sponsors, partnering with Year Up is a great way to give back and help foster diversity in the industry. It’s also an investment in a new talent pipeline and future employees, as Year Up interns come to the company fully trained and continue to receive support and career training throughout the internship process. By the end of the full year, most interns are offered a full-time job with their internship company, while some opt for other opportunities at a different company. LinkedIn is one such organization that has developed a deep partnership with Year Up.

ITSMF develops Black IT leaders

Much of the IT industry’s efforts to diversify the workforce focus on entry-level recruitment. ITSMF, however, is focused on helping Black IT pros climb the ladder in the industry by offering community, mentorship, training, and support in hopes of impacting the marked lack of Black representation at the executive and leadership levels.

ITSMF was launched in 1996 as a direct response to the dismal representation of Black IT professionals in the industry. In 1993, only 3% of IT management roles were held by Black technologists. Today, Black professionals hold just 7% of positions in the tech industry, and only 2% of tech executive roles, according to data from the Diversity in High Tech report published by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

For many members, ITSMF events were the first time they saw a room of IT leaders who look like them. Robert Scott, vice president and dean of the ITSMF global institute for professional development, was a vice president the first time he attended an ITSMF event. He remembers being “absolutely floored, to the point of silence,” as he looked around the room and saw “all of these people that looked like me, that were at my level, and that I never knew existed.”

ITSMF offers mentorship programs through three academies: Executive Academy, Management Academy, and Emerge Academy. The Executive and Management academies offer 10-month programs, while the year-long Emerge Academy program is aimed at midlevel and executive-level women of color in leadership positions.

Diversity and Inclusion

One trap IT leaders often fall into when seeking a new job is viewing their resume as a historical document of their career. The reality is that your resume should paint a clear picture of your career’s future, detailing your past work experience as a roadmap that leads inevitably to your next leadership gig.

But striking that balance between detailing the past and mapping toward the future can be challenging, especially while keeping your resume to-the-point. A few key strategies, however, can help you tell your career story through your resume without getting bogged down in the past.

With more than 20 years of experience in data and analytics, Gloria Edsall, whose identity has been changed for this article, is an aspiring CDO looking to break into a C-suite role. We paired Edsall up with Stephen Van Vreede, president, executive resume writer, and coach for, to help her strengthen her resume to convey how her career path qualifies her for a CDO role. 

“Our meetings focused on discussing how the company and its customers derived value from the actions of the candidate and their team. We spent a good deal of time talking about [her] goals and interests so that the new resume could be tailored to the future and not simply a post-mortem on her career,” says Van Vreede.

Following is a report on that process and some tips outlining how Van Vreede’s work with Edsall can help you better shape your resume as a leadership journey toward new opportunities.

Highlight your leadership skills from the top

Van Vreede worked with Edsall to create a cohesive theme for her resume based on her career goals and interests. The first two to three pages of Edsall’s original resume focused on credentials such as education, certification, training, and publications, which were a “big distraction,” according to Van Vreede.

“For someone looking to pursue leadership roles that focus on turning data science and analytics organizations into a value driver for the business, there was almost no content that spoke to the candidate’s track record providing tangible business value,” he says.

> Download: Gloria Edsall’s original resume

To remedy this, Van Vreede included an executive summary at the start of the resume to clearly outline how Edsall’s experience and knowledge help her excel in leadership roles, detailing what type of leader Edsall is and how her experience with management and data analytics makes her an ideal candidate for a CDO role.

Van Vreede also pulled up three top career highlights for Edsall, including generating $25M in value by creating a predictive analytics engine, bringing in $25M in new contracts and $14M in business value through advanced and predictive analytics practices, and driving $5M in value by maturing data science practices. These main accomplishments show Edsall’s ability to benefit an organization’s bottom line through her analytics experience, while also leading successful and resilient teams in the process.

Keep it brief and strategic

One glaring issue with Edsall’s original resume is that it was far too long and, according to Van Vreede, was “more appropriately used as an academic CV instead of a personal marketing document for corporate roles,” at seven pages long. This is one of the most common resume mistakes tech professionals make, especially as your career history grows longer, it can be difficult to know what to keep and what to leave off your resume.

As a general rule, a professional resume should be a concise 1-2 pages when applying for corporate roles. Recruiters read through thousands of resumes, so they’re more likely to lose focus or abandon your resume altogether if they can’t get a sense of your qualifications within the first few minutes.

Edsall knew her resume was too long, and wasn’t happy with the formatting around her skills summary, job achievements, and past work experience. She didn’t know the best way to consolidate experience from more than a decade ago, or how to highlight her achievements and connect those to the value she’d bring to a CDO role.

In addition to being too lengthy, the original resume was also “highly technical and tactical in nature,” according to Van Vreede. This is a common issue that technologists run into when writing a resume: They include technical verbiage that might alienate recruiters or hiring managers who aren’t as familiar with the technical side of the role.

Van Vreede addressed this by consolidating her professional experience and creating a side bar along the right side of both pages to showcase Edsall’s education, credentials, and key skills. Including this type of sidebar enabled Van Vreede to bring Edsall’s chronological work history to the forefront, without having to bury her education and credentials at the bottom of the resume.

Including executive summaries and a side bar with your education, skills, and credentials is a great way to remove redundancies from your work experience, allowing you to focus on specific accomplishments at each role, while consolidating your evergreen skills, expertise, and knowledge into short and simple lists. It also gives recruiters and hiring managers an easy way to ensure you have the necessary skills and qualifications with just a quick glance. Ultimately, you want to grab a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s attention from the jump, encouraging them to delve further into your overall experience.

The final results

In the end, Van Vreede helped take Edsall’s resume from “technical and tactical” to “strategic and achievements based.” Most importantly, he focused on highlighting achievements that illustrated how Edsall has built or transformed data science and analytics units at each company and driven profits and business value through her efforts. These achievements help tell the story of her career and how those experiences will make her a strong candidate for a CDO role.

> Download: Gloria Edsall’s final resume

Edsall says she was most surprised by how Van Vreede was able to take the original resume down from seven pages to just two, and notes that the process helped her “learn what leaders look for when recruiting leaders.” She is happy with the final resume, which better highlights her qualifications for a C-suite role.

Van Vreede, too, sees Edsall’s experience and skills now standing out with a resume that is “aesthetically pleasing and packed with great content, but all wrapped up in just two pages,” he says. Overall, the final document will help Edsall demonstrate the value-add she brings to the table when interviewing with potential employers.

Careers, IT Leadership, Resumes

With companies increasingly moving their data to cloud, there is an extensive need for more professionals with sound understanding and expertise of cloud technology.

Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure, ranks among the top in the industry. Enterprises find Azure’s hybrid feature appealing, as well as the wide range of tools offered on the platform. As per data from Statista, the Azure market share has been on an upsurge and now accounts for 21% of the worldwide cloud market, making earning an Azure certification a strong career move.

Here are 16 role-based Azure certifications that will give you an in-depth understanding of the skills and knowledge required to elevate your IT career using Microsoft’s cloud.

Top Microsoft Azure certifications

Azure Administrator AssociateAzure AI Engineer AssociateAzure Database Administrator AssociateAzure Data Engineer AssociateAzure Data Scientist AssociateAzure Developer AssociateAzure Enterprise Data Analyst AssociateAzure Network Engineer AssociateAzure Security Engineer AssociateAzure Solutions Architect ExpertAzure Stack Hub Operator AssociateCybersecurity Architect ExpertDevOps Engineer ExpertIdentity and Access Administrator AssociateSecurity Operations Analyst AssociateWindows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

Azure Administrator Associate

The certification is designed for professionals with expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring identity, storage, governance, compute, and virtual networks in a cloud environment. Many a times, this role operates as a part of a bigger team devoted to implement an organization’s cloud infrastructure.

To earn this certification, you should have a minimum of six months of hands-on experience managing Azure. In addition, you would also require a good understanding of core Azure services, Azure workloads, security, and governance. It will also test your skills of deploying and managing Azure compute resources, as well as your ability to configure, monitor, and maintain Azure resources.

Job role: Administrator

Required exam: Microsoft Azure Administrator

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure AI Engineer Associate

This certification validates your ability to develop AI solutions in collaobration with data engineers, data scientists, AI developers, and IoT specialists.

To earn this certification, you need to have a strong understanding of C# or Python and should have hands-on knowledge of REST-based APIs and SDKs to develop conversational AI solutions, natural language processing, computer vision, and knowledge mining on Azure. You should also be proficient enough to apply responsible AI principles and be able to plan and mange Azure Cognitive Services solution.

Job role: AI engineer

Required exam: Designing and Implementing a Microsoft Azure AI Solution

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Database Administrator Associate

This certification demonstrates your ability to implement and manage the operational side of hybrid data platforms and cloud-native solutions developed with SQL Server and Azure data services. This exam verifies your proficiency in using varied methods and tools to execute regular operations, including know-how of using T-SQL for administrative management purposes.

The skill sets that the exam measures include the ability to: plan and implement data platform resources; implement a secure environment; examine, configure, and improve database resources; configure and manage task automation; and plan and configure a high availability and disaster recovery environment.

Job role: Database administrator

Required exam: Administering Microsoft Azure SQL Solutions

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Data Engineer Associate

This certification is a stamp of your expertise in integrating, consolidating, and transforming data pouring in from numerous structured and unstructured data systems and in providing structure to build analytics solutions on that data. An Azure data engineer ensures data pipelines and data stores are well-functioning, effective, structured, and reliable based on business requirements and limitations. You also need to navigate unexpected issues and reduce data loss.

To earn this certification, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of data processing languages, including Scala, SQL, or Python, and have an understanding of parallel processing and data architecture patterns. You should be able to design, implement, and optimize data storage, data processing, and data security.

Job role: Data engineer

Required exam: Data Engineering on Microsoft Azure

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Data Scientist Associate

This certification focuses on your expertise in leveraging data science and machine learning to implement and run machine learning workloads on Azure.

Candidates for this role should be able to conduct data experiments, train predictive models, and manage Azure resources for machine learning.

Job role: Data scientist

Required exam: Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Developer Associate

The Azure Developer Associate certification is designed for professionals with one to two years of professional experience with Azure. It validates that a candidate is a cloud developer who takes part in all stages of development, deployment, and maintenance. And that the candidate works with cloud database administrators and clients to implement solutions.

The skills measured in the exam include the ability to develop Azure compute solutions; develop for Azure storage; implement Azure security; monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions; and connect to and use Azure services and third-party services.

Job role: Developer

Required exam: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Enterprise Data Analyst Associate

The certification proves your standing to appropriately deal in areas of designing, creating, and deploying enterprise-scale data analytics solutions.

To achieve this certification, you should have advanced Power BI skills. You should have the expertise to implement and manage a data analytics environment; query and transform data, implement and manage data models; and explore and visualize data.

Job role: Data analyst

Required exam: Designing and Implementing Enterprise-Scale Analytics Solution Using Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Power BI

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Network Engineer Associate

The Azure Network Engineer Associate certification validates your prowess of deploying networking solutions by using the Azure portal and other methods such as PowerShell, Azure Command-Line Interface, and Azure Resources Manager templates. The certification demonstrates your aptitude to work with solution architects, security engineers, cloud administrators, and DevOps engineers to deliver Azure solutions.

The exam measures thorough expertise in planning, implementing, and maintaining Azure networking solutions comprising connectivity, routing, hybrid networking, security, and private access to Azure services.

Job role: Network engineer

Required exam: Designing and Implementing Microsoft Azure Networking Solutions

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Security Engineer Associate

This certification focuses on your expertise in implementing Azure Security Controls that secure identity, access, data, applications, and networks in cloud and hybrid environments. It proves your ability to execute responsibilities such as managing the security posture of the organization, responding to security incident escalation, conducting threat modeling, identifying and neutralizing detected flaws, and implementing threat protection.

To earn this certification, you need to have moderate to robust knowledge of most Azure offerings and an understanding of basic IT security principals. This exam tests your knowledge in four different subject areas: managing identity and access; implementing platform protection; managing security operations; and securing data and application.

Job role: Security engineer

Required exam: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Solutions Architect Expert

The certification validates your subject matter expertise in designing cloud and hybrid solutions on Azure, including network, compute, monitoring, storage, and security. It requires you to have advanced experience and deep knowledge of IT operations comprising networking, governance, disaster recovery, data platforms, virtualization, business continuity, identity, and security.

To earn it, you must have Azure Administrator Associate certification (see above), which tests your skills to implement, monitor, and manage an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment.

Job role: Solution architect

Required exam: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Azure Stack Hub Operator Associate

This certification focuses on your ability to plan, deploy, update, and maintain the Azure Stack Hub infrastructure. It evaluates your aptitude to work with teams that support datacenter infrastructure; teams that manage identity; and teams that use Azure Stack Hub resources such as DevOps engineers, developers, and virtual infrastructure administrators.

The certification requires you to possess strong experience in operating and managing Azure Stack Hub environments, and to do so by using PowerShell. It will also test the depth of your understanding of Azure, as well as your knowledge of networking, virtualization, and identity management as the certification is for administrator-level role.

Job role: Administrator

Required exam: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack Hub

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR                     

Cybersecurity Architect Expert

Cybersecurity Architect Expert is an enhanced certification that establishes your subject matter expertise in securing an organization’s digital assets by deploying cybersecurity strategy. It also focuses on your ability to design a Zero Trust strategy and architecture, which comprises applications, security strategies for data, identity and access management, and infrastructure. This exam also evaluates Governance Risk Compliance (GRC) technical strategies; security operations strategies; and experience of hybrid and cloud implementation.

To earn this certification, you must have at least one of the following certifications: Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate; Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate; Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate; or Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate.

Job role: Security engineer, administrator, solution architect, security operations analyst

Required exam: Microsoft Cybersecurity Architect

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

DevOps Engineer Expert

The DevOps Engineer Expert certification proves your ability to plan and implement strategies for collaboration, code, source control, infrastructure, compliance, monitoring, delivery, testing, constant integration, monitoring, and feedback. It requires you to possess experience with administering and developing in Azure, with solid skills in at least one of these domains. You need to be acquainted with both Azure DevOps and GitHub.

The exam evaluates your ability to develop an instrumentation strategy; oversee source control; design a security and compliance strategy; plan and implement constant integration; plan and implement a continuous delivery and release management approach; enable communication and collaboration; and build a site reliability engineering strategy.

To earn this certification, you must have either the Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certification.

Job role: DevOps engineer

Required exam: Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Identity and Access Administrator Associate

The certification verifies your ability to design, implement, and operate an organization’s identity and access management systems by putting into use the Azure Active Directory. It also validates your expertise to configure and manage authentication and authorization of identities for Azure resources, users, devices, and applications.

Job role: Administrator, identity and access administrator, security engineer

Required exam: Microsoft Identity and Access Administrator

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Security Operations Analyst Associate

This certification validates your skills in collaborating with stakeholders to secure IT systems from cyberattacks. It demonstrates that you are capable of reducing organizational risk by promptly emending active attacks in the systems, recommending improvements to threat protection practices, and stating breaches of organizational policies to applicable stakeholders.

The certification establishes that you are efficient for the role that predominantly investigates, responds to, and tracks attacks applying Microsoft Sentinel, Microsoft Defender for Cloud, Microsoft 365 Defender, and third-party security products.

Job role: Security engineer, security operations analyst

Required exams: Microsoft Security Operations Analyst

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD

India: ₹4800 INR

Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

This certification proves your expertise in configuring and managing windows server workloads using on-premises, hybrid, and infrastructure-as-a-service technologies. It also demonstrates your ability to execute tasks in line with security, monitoring, migration, troubleshooting, and disaster recovery. It also covers Azure Automation update management, Microsoft Defender for identity, Azure Security Center, Azure Migrate, and Azure Monitor.

This certification tests your ability to deploy and manage active directory domain services in on-premises and cloud environments; manage windows servers and workloads in a hybrid environment; implement and manage an on-premises and hybrid networking infrastructure; manage virtual machines and containers; manage storage and file services; and implement disaster recovery. You should have vast experience working with Windows Server operating systems.

Job role: Administrator,identity and access administrator,support engineer, network engineer, information protection administrator, technology manager, security engineer

Required exams: Administering Windows Server Hybrid Core Infrastructure and Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Services

Cost: Depends on the country or region in which it is taken. Does not include applicable taxes.

United States: $165 USD + $165 USD = $330 USD

India: ₹4800 INR + ₹4800 INR = ₹9600 INR


With data increasingly vital to business success, business intelligence (BI) continues to grow in importance. With a strong BI strategy and team, organizations can perform the kinds of analysis necessary to help users make data-driven business decisions.

BI encompasses numerous roles. BI analysts, with an average salary of $71,493 according to PayScale, provide application analysis and data modeling design for centralized data warehouses and extract data from databases and data warehouses for reporting, among other tasks. BI developers, with an average salary of $83,091, work with databases and software to develop and fine-tune IT solutions. BI architects, with an average salary of $113,263, analyze and implement BI for their organizations, with responsibilities that range from determining platforms to building and maintaining data warehouses. BI directors, with an average salary of $127,169 per year, lead design and development activities related to the enterprise data warehouse.

In its quarterly IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index report released in May, research firm Foote Partners notes that the average pay premium for tech certifications was down 1.2% in the first quarter of 2022 following two consecutive periods of growth. Data and database certifications were among the only ones to buck the general trend: They were up 4.6% annually.

Certifications are not required to work in BI, but they may help you get an edge by proving to employers that you have the right skillset. Below is our guide to some of the most sought-after BI certifications.

Top 9 business intelligence certifications

Certified Business Intelligence ProfessionalIBM Data Analyst Professional CertificateMicrosoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst AssociateQlikView Business AnalystSAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.3SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business AnalyticsTableau Certified Data AnalystTableau Desktop SpecialistTableau Server Certified Associate

Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)

The CBIP certification program is intended for senior-level personnel in the information systems and technology industry with a focus on data management and business analytics. The cert demonstrates that you are up-to-date with BI technologies and are knowledgeable about best practices, solutions, and emerging trends. The certification has four specialty areas to choose from: leadership and management, business analytics, data analysis and design, and data integration. The certification requires passing two mandatory exams — your choice of the IS Core or Business Core Exam and the Data Foundations Exam — plus at least one specialty exam. The exams are multiple-choice. Each applicant is given 90 minutes to complete each 110-question exam. The initial certification is valid for four years and must be renewed every three years thereafter. Recertification requires proof of 120 credit hours of continuing education earned since the last renewal and an annual fee of $125 every year after the first.

Organization: Transforming Data With Intelligence (TDWI)

Exam fee: $325 per exam for TDWI members and $350 per exam for non0-TDWI members

IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate

The IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate is a beginner-level credential that demonstrates proficiency in creating charts and plots in Excel and working with IBM Cognos Analytics to build dashboards for visualizing data. The certificate does not require prior programming or statistical skills.  Candidates work with a variety of data sources, project scenarios, and data analysis tools, including Excel, SQL, Python, Jupyter Notebooks, and Cognos Analytics. The certificate requires nine online courses completed on your own schedule, culminating with a capstone project designed to showcase data analyst skills.

Organization: IBM

Fee: A subscription of $39 per month

Microsoft Certified: Power BI Data Analyst Associate

The Microsoft Certified Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification validates candidates have a fundamental understanding of data repositories and data processes, both on-premises and in the cloud. They are subject matter experts that can design and build scalable data models, clean and transform data, and provide business value via data visualizations. The certification is intended for data professionals and business intelligence (BI) professionals who use Power BI to develop reports and dashboards that visualize data, whether in the cloud or on premises. The certification requires passing the Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst exam. The exam measures the candidate’s ability to prepare data, visualize data, analyze data, and deploy and maintain assets.

Organization: Microsoft

Exam fee: $165

QlikView Business Analyst

The QlikView Business Analyst certification demonstrates your knowledge of interface design of QlikView applications and is recommended for roles involved in the analysis, design, and layout of the QlikView application user interface. Candidates must have a basic knowledge of BI, reporting, and data analysis, as well as experience working with QlikView to design applications. The certification requires passing a multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE via a Pearson VUE Test Center or in your home/office using online proctoring. The certification does not expire, though Qlik releases new exams for every major release, so old certifications do “age out.”

Organization: Qlik

Exam fee: $250

SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.3

The SAP Certified Application Associate: SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform certification demonstrates you have the skills and knowledge to design for, deploy, and run SAP’s BI platform. This certification shows you can configure and manage servers in an SAP Business Intelligence platform deployment, and design and deploy an SAP Business Intelligence platform system. SAP recommends candidates combine hands-on experience and education courses to prepare for the required multiple-choice exam delivered by Pearson VUE.

Organization: SAP

Exam fee: $536 for six attempts or $214 for a single attempt

SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics Specialist

The SAS Certified Specialist: Visual Business Analytics certification is intended for analysts who use Visual Analytics to analyze data and design reports. It validates your skill in using SAS Visual Analytics to add and manipulate data items, analyze data, and design and share reports. It requires a passing score on the SAS Visual Analytics Using SAS Viya exam administered by SAS and Pearson VUE. The exam consists of 50-55 multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The certification expires after five years.

Organization: SAS

Exam fee: $180

Tableau Certified Data Analyst

The Tableau Certified Data Analyst certification is for individuals with six or more months of experience who wish to demonstrate their ability to enable stakeholders to make business decisions by understanding the business problem, identifying data to explore for analysis, and delivering actionable insights. There are no required prerequisites for the exam. The exam consists of 30 multiple-choice questions and one hands-on lab with 10-11 tasks. The certification is valid for two years.

Organization: Tableau

Exam fee: $250; $25 reschedule fee

Tableau Desktop Specialist

The Tableau Desktop Specialist certification is for individuals with three or more months of Tableau experience who wish to demonstrate their understanding of advanced functionality of Tableau and application of visual best practices. There are no required prerequisites for the exam.  The exam consists of 45 multiple-choice questions. The certification does not expire.

Organization: Tableau

Exam fee: $100; $25 reschedule fee

Tableau Server Certified Associate

The Tableau Server Certified Associate certification is for individuals with six or more months of experience with Tableau Server who wish to demonstrate their architectural knowledge and platform integration expertise. There are no required prerequisites for the exam. The exam consists of 55 multiple-choice questions. The certification is valid for two years.

Organization: Tableau

Exam fee: $250; $25 reschedule fee

Analytics, Business Intelligence, Careers, Certifications, IT Skills

Perhaps your tech career feels like you’re treading water, and you wonder why your peers are progressing more quickly than you are. Or maybe you’re looking to shake things up and take the next step in your career. Regardless, it’s helpful to regularly pause, reflect, take the long view to optimizing your path, and stay open to new opportunities.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned veteran, tech leaders say there are ways to keep moving forward that aren’t always obvious. 

As with the technology industry, change is constant for IT pros. Here accomplished leaders offer their best tips on how to advance in your IT career so you don’t get left behind.  

Jump in the deep end

For some, being in over their head — and fast — can help forge a leadership career in IT. Michiel Schipperus, CEO at Sana Commerce, found that out at just 20 years old.

“I was asked to lead a team,” Schipperus says. “The manager had just quit, and they needed a solution quick. I did not think I was ready, but my mentor did. And it worked out. I learned how to lead a team, foster a culture, and deliver results. It was the best experience I could ask for.”


Sainsbury’s group CIO Phil Jordan has announced he’ll retire in March 2023 after a 35-year career in technology, spanning country, regional and group CIO roles across telecommunications, financial services, industrial gas and retail.

He recalls his career highlights, leadership lessons while working abroad, and how CIOs can become future CEOs — so long as they first navigate economic uncertainty.

‘Old enough and young enough’ to retire

With his decades of experience across executive and non-executive roles, having also been Group CIO at Telefonica (where he also headed the Global Technology business as CEO and chairman), UK and European CIO at O2, and CIO at Vodafone, Jordan believes it was the right time to step down and is now leading the recruiting process to replace him.

“I’m 55 in January and I just feel I want to go off and do something else,” he told “I’ve done five years at Sainsbury’s, so what’s the option? I could go somewhere else, but I’m not sure I’ve got the energy to do it again at a big company. I just thought it was a good time. I feel like I’m old enough and young enough to do it.”

Jordan won’t be sitting idly by, however. As well as spending more time on the golf course, he’ll continue his role as the board chair of D9 PLC, the investment trust listed on the London Stock Exchange last year, and retain non-executive commitments. Retirement, he says, offers a chance to reset his work-life balance.

“When you’re in intense roles for years, it becomes a lifestyle choice,” he says. “And I guess I got to the point in my life where I’m ready for a slightly different lifestyle choice.”

A CIO’s career achievements and leadership lessons

Jordan says on reflection that he’s particularly proud of enabling change at organisations at different junctures, building high-performance teams around him and adapting to new cultures while working abroad.

Phil Jordan

“I’m one of the few [CIOs] who has gone to multiple geographies, multiple industries, and I’ve really enjoyed that as a personal challenge,” he says. “Living in a different culture, a different language, a different country and industry, and applying my leadership, but with all those change variables, I’ve really enjoyed that.”

As for his most notable career achievements, Jordan highlights the projects that required ‘big business change’ because they were the most difficult to deliver. “So much technology gets delivered into a business and it doesn’t get fully utilised, because people and working practices are hard to change,” he says.

In particular, he points to a CRM deployment at Vodafone, multi-market greenfield implementations across the telco stack at Telefonica, and digital investments at Sainsbury’s through the COVID-19 pandemic as his most rewarding achievements.

This isn’t to say there haven’t been challenges, especially, Jordan suggests, the current talent shortage and cost of living crisis, and he recalls conflict between global and UK teams as being one of the reasons for his departure from Vodafone.

Another emerged when working abroad, pushing him to reflect on his skillsets, the strengths of the team around him, and how he communicated to other regions. When working in Madrid, he recalls when he realised his emails were being adapted for one market, where appearing overly optimistic could make the sender appear inept.

“There’s 20 countries in Telefonica,” he says. “I’d communicate from the centre and be reminded by people around me that these messages are interpreted wildly differently in different places in the world. So I sharpened my business influencing skills when I was abroad. When you’re not a native speaker in a business, you have to listen and watch really hard for how decisions get made and how you influence that.”

Clearing a path for CIOs to become CEOs

Despite his upcoming retirement, Jordan believes it remains a great time to be a technology leader, claiming that CIOs are now well positioned to progress into the CEO hot seat.

During his career, he says IT has progressed from ‘necessary evil’ to technology being commoditised and, more lately, a business differentiator. Jordan acknowledges, though, that the cost-of-living crisis, coupled with ongoing geopolitical instability, could push IT leaders back into firefighting mode in the near future.

“I think CIOs in the next three years are going to have that massive challenge that’s come up a number of times,” he says. “Businesses want to keep accelerating their digital capability, but the cost of technology will be constantly seen as an overhead.”

Yet he believes CIOs are well placed to lead change in future.

“Part of the CIO role — and this will be a thing for future CIOs or new CEOs — is being the person who demystifies,” he says. “The person who can bring real examples who helps your peers understand it in a way that’s easy for them, but doesn’t embarrass them in any way.”

CIOs will only do this if they adapt their own skill sets, however. “I would put more emphasis in business acumen, commercial understanding, data analytics, and understanding how the business is going to be changed by technology than I would on the skill set when I started, which was about supplier management, project management and technical delivery,” he says. “I genuinely think, from an executive perspective, we’ll see more CEOs come from technology, because technology is so important to businesses.”


When you have spent two — or three — decades in your career, the adrenaline-fueled excitement of doing the thing you studied for, getting a raise that alters your standard of living, or leading a team of smart and capable people may have worn off. It’s easy to forget how much energy you put into getting here and to let the difficult meetings, failed projects, or challenging economic blips take the joy out of your work. That’s why it’s important to have strategies in your pocket that help you find meaning in what you do and to remind you why you are doing it, even when you would rather not.

“I spend as much waking energy and time at work than with my own family,” says Cam Ahler, vice president of IT for customer, commerce, and cloud at Bridgestone Americas. “It’s important to me that I’m providing some sort of impact.”

You might not find meaning in the same place another person does, though, says Len Covello, CTO of Engage People. “Meaning is such a personal thing for each individual,” he says. “For some people, it’s about working hard and delivering things for other people. For others, it’s about enabling people to do great work.”

Knowing where other CIOs and tech leads have found meaning might help guide your search.

Make something meaningful

One thing many CIOs, a few decades into their work, told me is that working for a company that does something meaningful has become so important as to be a major factor in their job choices.

“The purpose of the company you work for has to align to something you believe in,” says Leslie Salmon, CIO at Kellogg. “At Kellogg, we feed people. So the systems I create help us get food to our customers.” Knowing she is working toward that mission helps her — and her team — get through rough patches, disappointments, and challenges. “Maybe you’ve got a tough meeting, a production issue, or a boring project,” she says. “We often say to each other, ‘We feed people. That’s why we do this.’ It feels nice.”

Toshiba Vice President and General Manager Louis Ormond has no problem finding meaning in his work. “We create solutions that help our customers solve problems,” he says. “We love technology. More than that, though, we love seeing how technology can solve problems. That’s really the core of engineering: Taking a problem others may not see as solvable and using technology and scientific methods to solve it. It really is a dream job.”

Find a mission in your role

Ramya Ravichandar, vice president of product management and sustainability at JLL Technologies, feels privileged when it comes to finding meaning in her work because it’s at the center of what she does at the company.

“My work is directly related to sustainability,” she explains. “I help figure out how to use technology to further our sustainability goals, both internally and externally. Can you be more mission-driven than that?”

She believes that every tech company can bring this meaning, this mission, to whatever their product goals are. “It’s not somebody else’s job to fix climate crisis,” she says. “It’s staring at us, no matter where you live.” Whatever your company’s product or mission is, it is possible to also work toward repairing the damage done to the climate. “Stripe has Stripe Climate,” she says. “An initiative where they want every company using Stripe to contribute to carbon removal. Microsoft wants to go ‘net zero’ by 2030.”

And while your company is directing resources and people’s attention toward fixing this looming crisis, it will also be creating roles, side roles, and meaning for you and for people who work for you.

Identify the meaning that’s already there

If the meaning in your work isn’t as obvious as solving problems, feeding people, or fixing our broken planet, you might have to look a little deeper. But that’s true, even when you can find meaning in the company’s mission. Tapping the strength it can give you — to work through dark days and difficult challenges — is a mindset.

“I embrace technology,” says Salmon. “But my personal purpose is not about making the best technology. My purpose is to help people reach their potential.”

This sounds like something that would require enormous effort. But it can, she says, take only one minute out of a day. It’s a matter of focusing on people, seeing what they do well, and helping them see it, too. When done by a leader, this simple attention can have enormous outcomes on someone’s life. Watching that unfold can bring gratification to yours.

“I was a couple of weeks into my job at a previous company,” she explains. “One of my peers told me that someone on my team was a complete waste of space.” She saw something unique in that person, though. He seemed to care about customer’s problems. “I told him that I appreciated the way he spoke to customers, the interest he showed,” says Salmon. He told her that no one had ever spoken to him like that before and it helped him see this personality trait as a strength and to value it. One year later, he won the Heart of the Company award.

Volunteer your skills to better the world

“We all empty our buckets with day-to-day work and normal professional activities,” says Bridgestone Americas’ Ahler. “But if I have the opportunity to do something that serves our community, that fills my bucket back up.”

If taking time to speak to school groups, volunteer, or rally your own time or company resources to further a noble cause feels like something you don’t have time for, it is often enough, as a leader, to help others throw energy at causes they are passionate about.

“Rallying and supporting people here to be their best authentic selves is sometimes all I can do. I’ve got teammates who are passionate about certain causes,” says Ahler, who doesn’t have to find a cause, organize an initiative, and help them get involved. “I only need to create space for them to support causes that are important to them in order to make their work something that allows them to flourish.” This doesn’t take much of his time, but it gives meaning to their work and to his.

Address the diversity gap

Sometimes the cause you need to rally around, though, is right in your wheelhouse. The decisions you make about who is on your team and how much of themselves they can bring to work can change their world, the outside world, and the life experience of many people.

“Doing your part as a leader to address the diversity gap is huge,” says Salmon. “Sure, the quickest way to drive consensus is to have people who are similar to you. If your team is diverse, you will disagree more. But you will get to a better solution and diversity of thought is the right thing for your business.”

Doing this is complicated and challenging but brings enormous meaning to the workplace. Facing unconscious bias is a great place to start. To do this at Kellogg, Salmon set up a program to help people understand diverse points of view. “We started with a relatively easy thing, bringing in the perspective of an African American group when the George Floyd situation was going on,” she says. “We started with some factual education sessions. Gradually I started to get emails from my team saying, ‘I’ve got a story I’d like to tell around diversity.’”

She made space for people to tell their stories and that’s when the door opened.

“We heard a transgender female tell her story. We had foster-carers talk about the rewards, trials, and tribulations of that work. A girl who grew up in foster care told her story. One of my team in India is gay. He said he would like to tell his story. We are creating psychological safety for everyone by educating all of us with these diversity stories,” she says.

Become a coach

Another place to look for meaning is by helping other people work toward the level of success you have found, even if their path is, ultimately, different from yours.

“The long-term coaching that we do as leaders for our team is very meaningful,” says Claire Rutkowksi, senior vice president and CIO at Bentley Systems. “Sometimes people know what they want to do but they don’t have the opportunity to do it.” Helping people find their path creates meaning — and success for them — but it also brings great rewards to you.

“I had someone on my team who wasn’t sure if he wanted to get into project management, so I said, ‘Well, let’s just try it. Do your job half time and do project management half the time. If you hate it, you’ll know you don’t want to do it.’” That person ended up loving it and changing course to go into project management. Rutkowksi found her role in that life choice rewarding.

“I feel like I made a difference, had an impact,” she says. “Maybe I didn’t help society at large but for that individual person, I made a difference. That is very meaningful. And it is gratifying when people come back and tell you what a difference it made and what meaning it had for them.”

Become an influencer in the tech community

Finding meaning in your work, according to Colleen Tartow, director of engineering at Starburst Data, involves understanding your place in the larger technology community and helping to grow it in a direction that is motivating and inspiring to you. “Speaking publicly at conferences or meetups, as well as writing articles or white papers about my work and the challenges facing my industry, has helped me feel more connected to the business goals and more motivated by the work I’m doing,” she says.

Sometimes just stepping back into a world where people are aspiring to the position you are in can show you that there is already meaning in what you do.

Do a postmortem

“Nothing ever goes perfectly or according to plan,” says Ormond. “That’s where struggles arise.” But there are lessons, and meaning, to be found in both the projects that go well and those that don’t. The trick is to stop and learn the lessons that the successes and failures can teach you if you listen.

“At the end of a project, we do a post-project review,” he says. The goal is to make learning lessons from mistakes — and successes — an integral part of the process. This moment where people stop to talk about what happened and what they learned along the way is not only a good practice for your future projects, but it helps you find the meaning in what you do. “It allows people to do the emotional healing that has to take place to get over the struggles. It’s a good mechanism for learning from your mistakes — and from what went right — and allows the team to either heal or rejoice, depending on the circumstance,” says Ormond.

Create leaders

“When you are helping others, it’s fulfilling for yourself as well,” says Engage People’s Covello. “I think helping others, for me, brings a lot of meaning. I see myself as the servant leader of a very proficient team. So, a big part of my job is enabling them. It’s fulfilling to see them be successful.”

That help can be the day-to-day stuff of helping someone get unblocked or find a solution. Or it can be larger. It can be helping someone to see themselves as proficient, successful, and — eventually — a leader.

“Somebody once said to me that you’re not a leader until you’ve created a leader who can create a leader,” Salmon says. “That was a turning point for me.”

Creating your replacement, growing people who can lead other IT teams, and building the leadership team of the future, is — many people told me — a great source of meaning for anyone in the role of CIO.

“Many of my IT managers have told me directly they want to be a CIO one day,” agrees Eric Tan, CIO of Coupa. “I strive to do everything in my power to help them reach that goal — whether it’s owning new projects or helping them network. I have always believed in investing in people to become our future leaders.”

Creating leaders is a big job and an important one. Leaders change the culture, productivity, and happiness level of everything they touch — in their team and in everything their team does. Creating those leaders is how you change the world, even after you have done your part and decided that it’s time you stayed out of the game. “You have to keep the ball rolling,” says Salmon.