Back in the saddle! Earning a data analytics certificate

Hi world! One of my goals for 2022 is to get back to a level of consistency with this blog and sharing my journey into become a data and business intelligence analyst. As such, I wanted to share my ongoing experience of earning Google’s Data Analytics certificate.

“Get started in the high-growth field of data analytics with a professional certificate from Google. Learn job-ready skills that are in demand, like how to analyze and process data to gain key business insights.”

Google’s excerpt on this certificate program

I have finished the first two courses (there are eight in total) and am a couple ‘weeks’ into the third course and I’m feeling a bit… whelmed? A bit on my background first:

  • I’m self taught in SQL. I’d say at this point I am comfortable writing moderately complex queries, but do not have experience with data warehousing, modifying tables, etc.
  • I have roughly six years of full-time work experience. My experience is not in the data analytics field but you’ll understand why I call this out a bit later in my post…
  • I’ve dabbled with visualization tools like Tableau but would not call myself very skilled with visualizations. I’d say my strengths come more from thinking about problems and how to solve them rather than robust visualizations of what I identified.

My initial qualms with the courses in this certificate program thus far are related to 1) the flow of the content and 2) the (lack) of interactivity within the courses themselves.

Cert Structure

So if you’ve heard of this certificate but not the finer details, here is some additional information. The certificate requires completion of 8 courses. The courses are all offered through Coursera which is an open source learning platform (similar to Udemy). To take these courses, you need a paid Coursera account (cost is $39/month, you start with a free 7 day trial). I believe in the introductory videos, it was mentioned that completion of the program will take around 6 months given their “10 hours of study per week” guideline. So at that rate, the certificate would cost roughly $240 if finished in six months.

Each of the eight courses is broken down into ‘weeks’ of content. Assignments do *not* have to be done each week but there is a quiz that must be taken at the end of each ‘week’ of content in addition to one large quiz on the entire course. All courses are open-note and limited to 40 minutes.

My (current) Qualms

Let’s start with the flow of content. If I had to guess, I would say the courses are 60% videos, 10% quizzes or practice quizzes, 25% readings, and 5% interactive tasks (like flashcards or matching exercises). Often the informative videos on whatever the topic at hand is are punctuated with anecdotes from current Google employees on their careers and what they enjoy about their work.

This sort of enthusiastic content is fine for purposes of getting people excited about the types of cool projects that await them in the world of analytics. But sometimes after these videos I’ve forgotten what I just learned about or I am left confused about what the next topic to cover will be.

The first two courses have been very soft skill heavy which is not what I would have expected. The courses cover such topics as “the best way to be productive during meetings” and “identifying who stakeholders are in your organization”. These are important topics, don’t get me wrong, but to start with these instead of actually learning and practicing data analytics skills feels like a miss. I think these sorts of soft skills (how to drive value) discussions, especially from the employees at Google, would be great material for a final course which ties together everything that’s been learned.

Regarding lack of interactive content, I noted about that the courses feel to be a majority videos. Exercises that let you practice (multiple times) concepts you just learned are few and far between. I will say, on a positive note, that the course quizzes to take a more interactive approach with examples and information that you have to search for on your own instead of just regurgitating practice quiz questions.

What Has Worked for Me

I’ve been extremely happy with the courses offered on Kaggle. The courses I’ve taken, “Data Cleaning” and “Data Visualization” have been extremely high opening for me. They include thorough exercises, the explanations of what’s going on and why are extremely helpful. I feel like I’m learning from someone who is also learning and excited to share what they know for the first time and not just a Corporate Trainer who is teaching me because they have to.

I’m currently working on a first project in Kaggle. Nothing too big but it will allow me to begin to put some basic principles to work and will help give me the confidence to get building bigger and better! I do plan on continuing and completing Google’s Data Analytics certificate and who knows, maybe the rest of course 3 and 4-8 will be much different and faster paced. I’ll be sure to write a follow-up review!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: