WAA Certification: More than Just an Exam

WAA-certification-logoRecently the Web Analytics Association launched a ‘Certified Web Analyst’ program. Although at first glance it may seem that passing a test is all that’s required, there are in fact some significant education and experience requirements as well.

It’s All About Credibility

In the works for two years, the program is designed as a ‘mechanism to elevate professional standards and recognize professionals who have demonstrated their knowledge of the web analytics industry.’  Cool…independent, third party validation that someone who is promoting him/herself as a web analytics professional actually knows his/her stuff.  Whether you’re in the trenches trying to be taken a little more seriously, a consultant trying to landing new clients, or just generally trying to advance your career, who can’t use an extra shot of credibility?

Writing the Exam

The center-piece of this program is an exam that applicants must pass in order to receive the designation.  Currently available only at proctored exam locations (eMetrics, similar conferences), pen-and-paper style, they’ll be moving to more widespread computer-based testing centers in the US and beyond throughout 2010.

Education + Experience Requirements

I initially had the impression from the promo emails, etc that writing the exam was all there was to it, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Eligibility requirements include one of two combinations of education + experience:

1. High-school + 5 yrs online business experience, incl 3 yrs of web analytics.

OR

2. 4-yr degree + 3 yrs web analytics experience.

Interestingly, there is no accommodation in the education requirements for the UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics , which has been offered for several years now in conjunction with the Web Analytics Association (which provides course content and tutors). In fact, 3 of the 4 courses in the UBC program (all but the intro course) comprise the body of knowledge that is tested in the exam…

Body of Knowledge

So, if you have (or are well on your way) to satisfying the education and experience requirements, you want to know what is going to be on the exam before you shell out your $600+ exam fee, right?  If you have taken the UBC web analytics courses mentioned above, you are in luck, as this material forms the basis for the exam questions.  If you haven’t taken UBC courses, or if you need to refresh your memory, the WAA has provided a very helpful document called ‘Knowledge Required for Certification‘ that provides an overview of the subject areas to be covered on the exam.

In fact, from quickly flipping through the 37 page document, I’d say it provides a nice overview of the kinds of things you should know if you are/aspire-to-be a web analytics professional – whether you plan to take the exam or not. It doesn’t cover everything in the web analytics universe and it is maybe a little heavily oriented toward the clickstream in a web 2.0 world, but the essential foundations of web analysis are there.

Go!

With the combination of education + experience + exam requirements, the weight of the WAA, and the top-shelf web analytics minds that have gone into establishing this program, it seems to me that this is more than just another certification.  I think it will prove to be a valuable program that represents a nice milestone in our industry.

I look forward to writing the exam and (hopefully) getting certified as soon as the opportunity arises, and hope the experience – and rewards – are positive for everybody else who goes for it.

Meantime, I’m interested to hear any thoughts from those who have taken the exam, plan to, or plan NOT to.

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