Certified Analytics Professional: Providing career development in data analytics


A unique certification program, known as the Certified Analytics Professional or CAP, provides concentrated training to Clemson’s data-driven professionals looking to enhance their skills.

Launched in 2013, CAP is a widely recognized global certification program requiring analytics professionals to meet rigorous standards, including a certification exam. For institutions looking to take advantage of complex data for practical application, CAP provides a valuable resource to identify, recruit and retain top analytics talent.

Certified Analytics Professional Logo
Certified Analytics Professional Logo

In June 2019, Lisa Sembach and Benjamin Wiles, of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, recognized the value of analytics certification and assembled a small cohort of Clemson faculty and staff to work toward CAP certification. Cohort members either filed an application or were nominated by their supervisor. Sponsoring a CAP cohort allowed Sembach and Wiles to foster connections and networking opportunities among its members as they progressed through the certification process.

“I liked the idea of a collaborative environment for this type of professional development. We can learn so much from others’ experiences,” said Sembach, who is a CAP ambassador and has been certified since 2015.

According to Sembach, employers are becoming increasingly familiar with CAP certification and adding it to the requirements of posted analytics job openings. Because recertification is required every three years, professionals will continue to hone their skills.

Greg Ball, budget manager at Clemson University, became the first cohort member to become CAP certified. Receiving his CAP certification on October 15, Ball says he will continue using what he learned in his current role while working as an advocate for data analytics.

“The contacts I’ve made in the CAP cohort and the introduction into the larger analytic community at Clemson helped me discover ways to collaborate with others on innovative projects,” Ball said.

Group of men and women stand together for a photo.
Certified Analytics Professional cohort

“It is important to have a curious mind. Using data analytical tools with an inquisitive mind can lead one to discover hidden gems of insight, which can be fun and exciting. I advise anyone uncertain about data analytics to get involved. There are all kinds of data visualization and analytical tools available for people to take advantage of,” Ball added.

Jade Wimpey, a data visualization analyst in the Division of Finance and Operations and a member of Clemson’s inaugural CAP cohort alongside Ball, is preparing for the Associate Certified Analytics Professional (aCAP) certification. ACAP is designated for entry-level professionals who are educated in the analytics process but have not acquired enough analytics-related experience. Earning an aCAP designation can prepare professionals for full CAP certification once they’ve gained further career experience. One of two Clemson cohort members working towards an aCAP designation, Wimpey enjoyed the unique opportunity to work with Clemson faculty and staff from across the University.

“The other cohort members help make this experience worth it. Getting together with everyone and studying for the CAP exam allows you to interact with faculty and staff with different skill sets from across campus. As someone who works primarily with staff, it was great to get a faculty perspective,” Wimpey said.

A featured author on the data visualization platform, Tableau, Wimpey uses the skills she gained as a communication major at Clemson to help her tell the bigger story within data and analytics.

“Since my CAP instruction, I am now able to focus on important communication components and identify key variables from the entire lifecycle of data and analytics,” Wimpey said.

Likewise, fellow cohort member Rene Schmauder, who works as the director of undergraduate assessment, understands the value of data analytics and the influence it has in decision-making.

“Being able to tell a compelling story based on accurate data is more important than ever. If you are curious or enjoy solving puzzles, regardless of your area of interest, data analytics can help answer some of the most important questions you will encounter,” Schmauder said.

As analytics becomes more accessible and the cohort prepares for their certification exams, Sembach hopes more people take advantage of opportunities like CAP. Sembach and Wiles aim to have another cohort during spring 2020 and are confident the current cohort takes what they’ve learned to cultivate further data success.

“As we become more of a data-informed culture at Clemson, the demand for data analytic skills will increase. With this certification, I hope the Clemson CAP cohort fosters a more universal goal of foundational data literacy,” Sembach said.

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