Main image of article Power BI Certifications: 5 Basic Things You Need to Know

Power BI, Microsoft’s business-analytics platform, allows data analysts, scientists, and other technology professionals to quickly delve into datasets for critical insights. It’s a competitor to Tableau and other types of business-intelligence software, although for many analysts it’s just one tool among many.

If you’re interested in any kind of data analytics or business intelligence job, knowing Power BI can prove useful (especially if your target company has a Microsoft-centric tech stack). But do you need certifications to land a job that heavily leverages Power BI? Let’s find out. 

First, why is knowing Power BI important?

Power BI interoperates with Microsoft’s massive suite of business tools, including Excel, Azure, and Teams. If you’re employed at a company that utilizes Microsoft’s software, and you work with analytics in any capacity, chances are good that you’ll encounter Power BI at some point.

Also, more and more companies these days are awakening to the power of data analytics and data science. These companies are willing to pay huge salaries to tech professionals who have mastered a variety of data-related tools, which means that knowing Power BI (and its competitors) can put you in a position to land lucrative, interesting jobs.

Does Power BI have an official certification?

Until recently, Microsoft offered MCSA: BI Reporting, which demonstrated the holder’s expertise in working with both Power BI and Excel. However, that certification was retired, along with the exams that fed into it (Exam 70-778: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI and Exam 70-779: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Excel). 

Now there’s Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate, which is fed by Exam PL-300: Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst. The certification shows that the holder can build and scale data models, clean datasets, and implement an analytics methodology that produces meaningful insights into data. Microsoft hosts a handy study guide for Exam PL-300—take a look at it, and realize that the exam will ask you to prepare, model, visualize, and analyze data.

If you’re interested in Power BI certification (or Microsoft certifications in general), it’s very important to check out Microsoft’s certification web pages for any updates to its certification pathways. The company may shift or cancel its certifications and the accompanying exams with relatively little notice. It would be too bad to spend time and money on a third-party training course only to realize that the material was outdated—for example, there are still lots of online learning courses offering instruction in Exam 70-778, even though Microsoft canceled it.

What certifications do you need to work with Power BI?

Technically, you don’t need any certifications to work with Power BI. If you can demonstrate to an employer that you’re adept at handling all of Power BI’s analytics and visualization functions, chances are good that you’ll land the job. As with many tech disciplines, though, many recruiters and hiring managers will feel more confident in advancing your job application if they see you have the right certifications.  

How do I get a Power BI certification?

Exam PL-300: Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst costs $165. As we mentioned above, the exam puts relatively equal weight on knowing how to prepare, model, visualize, and analyze data, along with deploying and maintaining deliverables (again, stay aware of how these exams regularly update; what’s relevant one year might shift the next). If you’re an autodidact, you can teach yourself the necessary skills online, via classes such as “Get started with Microsoft data analytics” and “Prepare data for analysis.” Microsoft also offers instructor-led courses, although these may cost money.   

If you don’t feel like engaging with Microsoft’s training regimen (for example, you want a Power BI refresher without working toward a certification), there are lots of alternative learning platforms out there with Power BI coursework, including (but definitely not limited to) Udemy, Coursera, and more. 

Is it worth getting a Power BI certification? 

The number of jobs asking for Power BI skills will increase 34.6 percent over the next decade, according to an analysis by Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. The median salary for jobs that involve Power BI skills is currently $87,000 per year, rising to more than $120,000 for those with the right mix of experience and skill. While you don’t need a certification to unlock the jobs that utilize Power BI, it may improve your chances in a crowded applicant pool.

It’s also important to remember that Power BI is one tool among many, and that learning it can help persuade a hiring manager to select you for a data analyst or data scientist job. These jobs are particularly lucrative; for example, data scientists can earn an average of $117,241 per year, according to Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report. Power BI knowledge can help you enter this very cool field. Which brings us to…

Can I get a job with Power BI skills? 

The short answer: yes. The slightly longer answer: Power BI is just one analytics platform utilized by data analysts and data scientists, along with other professionals who regularly analyze business-related datasets for additional insight. According to Burning Glass, here’s the breakdown of which technologist jobs request Power BI knowledge.

If you’re a data analyst, business intelligence analyst, or business intelligence architect/developer, there’s a pretty good chance that your next job will ask for Power BI knowledge among its requirements. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking about applying for new positions. 

Related Power BI Jobs Resources:

Power BI Developer Salary

Power BI Developer Training