Industry Insights

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CAP: The Certification Program for Analytics Professionals

August 19, 2014

Scott Nestler, an experienced operations research analyst transitioning from the Army to the private sector, Chair of the Analytics Certification Board at INFORMS, and friend to Burtch Works, shares some thoughts on the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) program.

CAP Logo

CAP, Schmap. What’s That?

The Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) program has been in existence since the spring of 2013, after a couple of years in development.  Since launch, participation has steadily grown; over 10% of the Fortune 100 companies now have at least one CAP on their staff.  Here is some information about the program that might be of interest to both individuals seeking to distinguish themselves from the crowd and employers searching for qualified analytics talent.

It’s Not Just an Exam (There are Four Other E’s)

Many of the questions we receive are about the Exam that is part of the CAP certification program.  While exams are understandably a source of concern to many, there are other components to the program.  Collectively, we refer to these as “The 5 E’s.”  The others include 3-7 years of Experience in the analytics field, with respect to Education, at least a Bachelor’s degree.  Additionally, there is a requirement for the verification of Effectiveness of soft skills by a current or former employer or client. Finally, certificants must agree to a Code of Ethics, as described in this CIO Magazine article.  Therefore, CAP is a well-rounded program of continuous professional development, not just a one-time event.

Now, about that practice-based Exam … you get 3 hours to complete 100 multiple-choice questions, based on typical tasks performed and knowledge applied by analytics professionals. The Job Task Analysis identifies 7 domains as shown in the table below; weights represent the number of questions in each area.  It is available as a computer-based test at over 700 locations through Kryterion.  Pencil-and-paper exams are available in conjunction with INFORMS conferences.  Oh, and you get to use a 4-function calculator that we provide.

A Brief Primer on INFORMS

INFORMS stands for the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science; a professional organization with over 11,000 highly educated (50% PhD, 95% earned or pursuing MS) members.  About half are academics while the remainder is split between practitioners and students. While based in the United States, about 20% of the membership is located in Europe or Asia.

Although INFORMS has been viewed by some as being traditional and academic in nature, that has changed since 2010, when it “caught the Analytics bug.” The CAP certification program is just one of several analytics-related initiatives at INFORMS, including a newly-developed Analytics Maturity Model, Analytics Magazine, an annual Business Analytics Conference, and Analytics Continuing Education Courses. Also, the semi-autonomous Analytics Certification Board includes membersfrom across industry, academia, and government, including some well-known personalities in the analytics field, e.g. Tom Davenport (IIA), Bill Franks (Teradata), Jeanne Harris (Accenture), Kathy Kilmer (Disney), and Jack Levis (UPS).

More Information, Please

Those interested in more information about CAP certification can check out the CAP Candidate Brochure or Candidate Handbook, while employers might be interested in looking at the Employer Guide to CAP.  If you have additional questions, please contact me, Scott Nestler, ( or Louise Wehrle, the INFORMS Certification Manager (