Reflections on "Hadoop Certification – is it worth it" 18 months later

It has been over a year and half since I took the Cloudera Hadoop Developer Certification course and exam and posted my initial impressions of it on my blog. I have received more comments than I had expected, thank you for reading and sending me comments! There have been a few trends in the comments, some displayed, others kept private. The main ones are:

  1. People really want to get their hands on the Cloudera training materials
  2. People are very eager to get Hadoop jobs
  3. People are trying to transition into Hadoop from different (technical) backgrounds
  4. People want to know if they need to know Java to work with Hadoop
  5. People really want to know if getting a certification in Hadoop will land them a job.

Here is an update to each of these trends:

#1) I cannot share the Cloudera training materials with you, sorry. I wish you the best, but I cannot distribute these materials. They are also pretty old at this point, chances are some of the content is outdated by now. It seems like many of the people asking me for the training materials haven’t picked up any books on the subject at all.  So, please check out the available online resources or pick up some books (Hadoop, the Definitive Guide, comes to mind) .

#2) There is tremendous amount of interest in learning Hadoop (and getting the training materials) in India. If it
is hard to find experienced Hadoop developers in the US right now, I imagine it must be even harder in India (for now, anyway) and there must be many, many job openings right now. I can imagine the outsourcing firms trying to staff up to meet the unmet demand in the US and elsewhere. Almost all the comments and private messages sent to me for training materials were from India. I do not know how much a training course costs in India, but there are plenty of training options, in addition to Cloudera and Hortonworks’ online offerings.

#3) Career switchers (or more accurately, technology-platform-switchers) will need to impress hiring managers with their transferable skill sets and show (not tell) their passion for technology and big data. This is true for any job applicant.

#4) Regarding Java, yes, it is good to know Java to work with Hadoop, but it is not required. You can use other languages, such as python, through the Hadoop Streaming API. To work with big data, python is good language to know anyway (lots of companies are looking with people with linux/python background), so learn python while you are at it ( If you know python you will also be able to use Pig to interact with your data. What language you will will be determined by the solution architecture and design. If the company you want to work with has designed a solution with custom coded java map reduce jobs, then you would need to know java. Other places may implement Hadoop Streaming API and use python, so it may be possible to get a job there if you know python.

#5) Having a certification in Hadoop won’t guarantee you a job. Most companies are looking for experienced Hadoop hires, which is hard to do unless they are poaching employees from other Big Data statups or tech firms (Yahoo, Google, etc.). When I interviewed technical job applicants, I was surprised (perhaps I shouldn’t have been) how poorly they interview. So please, please practice your behavioral interviewing skills (“tell me about yourself”, “walk me through your resume”, “tell me about a time you had to solve a difficult problem”, “why do you want this job”, etc.). If someone has 50 certifications and can’t answer these simple questions, I will not consider them for the role. I have heard that some hiring managers consider too many certifications as a cover up for lack of skill (superstar developers don’t bother getting certified / don’t need to be certified). For the rest of us, it can help, but it doesn’t guarantee success. The Cloudera Developer course is a good overview, but for it to be meaningful, you really do need a project to work on. Working on a pet project and being able to share code samples would help set you up for success when interviewing.

As for my own personal experience, I did not get a job working directly with Hadoop following the certification course, but I also was not only considering Hadoop developer roles.  I am now leading a BI implementation project where I interviewed and hired a team of developers and analysts. We are using Pentaho and Vertica (for analytic database) and I have been evangelizing Hadoop and other technologies at my company. I find it humorous when executives say the company needs to do more “big data” or “more Hadoop” without really knowing what it means. The certification course definitely helped me speak more authoritatively about this technology at my company and when networking with others.

Whether or not to take the certification course depends on your individual circumstance. If you are dead-set on getting a job as a Hadoop developer then it may be worth it to you, but make sure to follow up with a personal project to continue learning and practicing. Many people focus on Hadoop, and seem to forget the business applications of using a technology like Hadoop (data science, improved ETL, data processing). Brushing up on those skills and domain knowledge would make you a much more interesting job candidate over all.  Good luck everyone!

11 thoughts on “Reflections on "Hadoop Certification – is it worth it" 18 months later

  1. smarty juice December 4, 2013 / 9:24 am

    yes, totally agree with your post, getting a certificate may get you a job interview – but you have to earn it by showing how good you are solving real life practical problems using hadoop – if you win that job interview then I would say you are really certified hadoop developer, rise above buzz and hype, someone is going to pay you big bucks for solving complex problems, now show them, that you can really do that, with or without certification! cheers!


  2. Raghav July 1, 2014 / 2:00 pm

    Thank you David for your valuable info. I wanted to do Hadoop certification. I have one question in my mind always when I think of cloudera’s certification. Now Apache Spark is in the field and every one is speaking about it. Does it really helpful OR it helps us doing Cloudera’s Hadoop certification. Thanks in advance.


  3. sangeetha August 28, 2014 / 8:08 am

    I have 1 years .net experience So learning hadoop will get a good job for me


  4. mano September 14, 2014 / 11:39 am

    Thanks for clearly summarizing your experience. Appreciate it!.


  5. Sudhaa Gopinath November 6, 2014 / 12:23 pm

    Hi! great post. I need some clarification on the following questions. Is there any Hadoop distribution certification that is in-demand? And how essential it is to stay updated about Hadoop 2. 0


    • David February 21, 2015 / 12:22 am

      Answering your questions:

      Is there any Hadoop distribution certification that is in-demand?

      I don’t know what job you have in mind, so can’t really answer that. Certifications help, but it’s not going to get you the job. What’s in demand is real-world experience. This is a which-came-first-chicken-or-the-egg? type of problem. To be in a job that is in demand you need experience. to get experience you need a job. How to break in? I think it depends on the job you are applying for (dev ops? data engineer? Hadoop administrator?) Each type of job has its own “street cred” (“street credentials”) that hiring managers use to determine if someone knows their stuff or is faking it. Work on side projects/hobby projects that give you the street creds to show you know or have capacity to learn the stuff.

      How essential to stay up to date with Hadoop 2.0?

      Extremely essential. YARN (Hadoop 2) is here to stay. Learn it. End of story.


  6. jaro February 24, 2015 / 12:19 pm

    I have had an opportunity to take some Hortonworks Hadoop trainings paid by my employer. Since then I could also put my hands on one of the very few Hadoop production environments around in Europe. Before I knew more about Hadoop I had been so excited. HOWEVER, now with a bit of experience and understanding I consider Hadoop a terrible piece of bug-ridden un-intuitive un-intelligent user-hostile complex crap.
    So much hype and expectations… aaaah if only the people knew…
    Just hope in a couple of years Hadoop matures enough to the point of being actually usable past of being just new and exciting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ganesh June 16, 2015 / 6:57 am

    Thanks for great write up. I guess you may need another post from this discussion.Kudos from India 🙂


  8. Thiroo August 31, 2015 / 10:27 am

    Hi David, congrats! Great Job…excellent insights shared by you. Keep going, all the best !!! God bless.


  9. Sri February 9, 2016 / 4:32 am

    Nice post! According to you, is Cloudera certification better than Hortonworks?


    • David September 19, 2016 / 2:47 pm

      I can’t comment on which is better as I do not know much about the Hortonworks. Keep in mind I got certified over 5 years ago, so things have changed quite a bit!


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