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DAMA’s New Certified Data Management Practitioners (CDMP) Exam

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DAMA TransparentThe Data Management Association International® (DAMA) has significantly redesigned their Certified Data Management Practitioners (CDMP) exam. The Associate level is already online and DAMA will be releasing the Practitioner level, along with Data Governance and Data Quality elective exams at the DATAVERSITY® Enterprise Data World 2016 Conference (April 17-22) in San Diego, California.

The CDMP is an internationally recognized Data Management exam. Originally released in 2004, the CDMP has become the “the gold standard for measuring accomplishment in the Data Management field,” according to DAMA.  DATAVERSITY recently interviewed Sue Geuens, the President of DAMA, about the new exam format and its importance to the Data Management industry.

“The CDMP is the culmination of knowledge, experience, and expertise, taking the form of an online computer-based testing for all,” she said.  It is a comprehensive exam that is modeled after the essential Data Management concept/practice categories outlined in the DAMA International Guide to Data Management Body of Knowledge (DAMA DMBOK®), including:

  • Data Management Overview
  • Data Governance
  • Data Architecture Management
  • Data Development
  • Data Operations Management
  • Data Security Management
  • Reference and Master Data Management
  • Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
  • Document and Content Management
  • Metadata Management
  • Data Quality Management

“[The CDMP] demonstrates that the professional has attained a level of competence and expertise in not just Data Management, but a number of other key specializations,” said Geuens. The exam was created with a definitive structure that allows a given practitioner to gain greater levels of certification from Associate through Fellow over the course of their careers – often many years. “The CDMP is something we all aspire to attain,” remarked Geuens.

Purpose of New CDMP Release

The Data Management industry has grown considerably over the past ten to fifteen years. Since the release of the first exam, the need for better trained Data Management professionals has become an imperative. Organizations across the globe need knowledgeable data practitioners who can help them better leverage their data assets in a world of ever-increasing data volumes and real-time business requirements. Such concerns are not wholly contained within traditional IT departments, though. Data Management has moved out of IT and into the business side of the enterprise. “We have seen a huge increase in the number of people coming directly from the business who are ‘doing data,’” said Geuens. “We have experienced a ground swell of individuals asking for more business-related certifications.”

The old exam format had some different core delineations, but DAMA wanted to open it up further. “We also wanted to allow beginners in the profession to feel part of the team and be able to certify much sooner than ever before.” Such changes have allowed DAMA, through the restructured CDMP, to access a “much broader spectrum” of the industry, no matter whether a practitioner is new to the profession, a business user seeking to gain further education to advance their career, or a long-time professional who wants to gain deeper expertise by updating their existing knowledge base. “Finally,” commented Geuens. “We wanted to update the exams, the material, and align the CDMP not just to the DMBOK, but to start preparing ourselves for DMBOK2.”

Primary CDMP Changes

The new CDMP comes with a number of different modifications. “The quality of the exam questions has been significantly updated and improved,” said Geuens. The exam still uses a standard multiple-choice format, but DAMA has redone many of the questions to reflect changes within the profession as a whole. Some of the other primary changes include:

  • Information Systems Core: The IS Core exam, originally proctored through the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) has been removed. This removal was due to the fact that DAMA felt that it “had become stale and almost completely irrelevant to our professionals.”
  • Multiple levels: The new format is “no longer a one size fits all, but tailored to the level of knowledge and experience of the practitioner,” said Geuens. The different levels (outlined below in greater detail) are now Associate, Practitioner, Master, and Fellow.
  • One exam at a time: The old format required practitioners to both take and pay for a series of three separate exams. The new format allows them to take each exam as their time, money, experience, and studies allow.
  • Other exams: According to Geuens, “We have taken note of many requests to look at the value of other certifications.” In doing this DAMA is working with various other organizations to assist students in gaining the most comprehensive knowledge possible. This could entail working solely within the DAMA system, or “to look at the value of other certifications that cover other Data Management disciplines, and we are encouraging our students to substitute an elective for such certifications.”

Expanded CDMP Structure

The changes outlined above have necessitated a considerable change in the structure of the entire CDMP. Choosing the right level is important for any prospective student, as well as choosing the most appropriate Specialty Exams. It is recommended that practitioners take their time moving through the different levels. The CDMP is not an exam to cram for; it’s a professional certification based on qualification and direct industry experience. DAMA has made sure to include such criterion within the actual requirements for each level. “The lifecycle from beginner (Associate) through Fellow takes many years,” said Geuens. “As the professional grows, so does our profession.” A brief synopsis of each CDMP level is outlined below. For more information see the DAMA CDMP Certification page on their website.

  • Associate Level: This level requires only the Data Management Fundamentals exam, is for practitioners with around six months to two years of industry experience, and requires a 60% pass rate. The exam contains one hundred multiple choice questions. To pass the exam, knowledge of the concepts and practices contained within the DMBOK is expected, though DAMA also has an extended reference list that they recommend for anyone wishing to take the Associate Level exam and any after that. There is no re-certification requirement; the suggestion is to move to Practitioner Level.
  • Practitioner Level: A minimum of three and a half years of experience is expected with this level (though an additional two years is recommended for students without prior tertiary education). A “strong knowledge of DMBOK principles” is required, along with practical implementation experience, in-house training, and being a supporting member of the industry through speaking at conferences or being an active member of industry-based boards or chapters. This level requires the Data Management Advanced exam and two separate Electives. It takes a score of 70% on each exam to pass and has a minimum of one hundred multiple choice questions. This level requires a re-certification every three years, along with a contribution of at least three exam questions during the three year period.
  • Master Level: The Master Level is for practitioners who have been in the industry for many years – a minimum ten-year base requirement (plus five more with no tertiary education) is only the beginning. Additional prerequisites include an advanced knowledge of DMBOK principles and three plus years of Data Management projects, implementation, management, and processes. At this level it is expected that practitioners are regular webinar and workshop presenters and published writers in the industry. It requires an 80% pass rate of the Data Management Advanced exam, two more Electives, and a Case Study. This level requires a re-certification every three years, along with a contribution of at least three exam questions every year annually.
  • Fellow Level: The final level in the entire structure is for professionals who have been in the industry for a long time – at least twenty years. Fellows have expert knowledge of the DMBOK principles, are regular contributors to the industry in many forms including conference presentations, publications, webinars, and workshops, with upwards of a decade or more of Data Management project, process, and management experience. To reach the Fellow Level a practitioner must be nominated by another Master or Fellow. The re-certification for this level amounts to “continued contribution” within the Data Management industry.

The DAMA website offers a useful FAQ to answer prospective students’ questions and also provides a good breakdown of the financial obligations for each exam. DAMA will have a booth setup at the Enterprise Data World 2016 Conference, and there is a presentation titled “Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) Briefing and Exam Prep” at 10.30am on Sunday, April 17. The presentation is being conducted by Katherine O’Keefe, a Data Governance & Privacy Consultant at Castlebridge Associates, and Christopher M. Bradley, an Information Strategist at Data Management Advisors.

“And finally,” said Geuens. “There is a very exciting DAMAI Central Membership offer for all attendees at EDW with significant savings…100% actually!”

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