DAMA International’s Certified Data Management Professional Program

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DAMA International is the global membership organisation for Data Management professionals and has been around as a central organisation for close on 30 years (first chapter opened in 1980). As with many other professional bodies, one of our most important offerings is our certification – the CDMP.

Sue Geuens, President, DAMA International, president@dama.org



Many individuals approach the CDMP with the same question, why should I certify? The answers are many and varied with at least one striking a spark with the future certificate holder:

  • Globally recognised certification, tied to your professional organisation membership
  • More and more organisations are asking for a CDMP certification (more than any other certification) as a mandatory requirement for employment in a Data Management field
  • The CDMP certificate shows that you are capable, knowledgeable and expert in your field
  • The CDMP certificate denotes exactly which fields you have already excelled in
  • You are the inspiration for your colleagues and other data management people, as well as the go-to person for questions they need answers to
  • Certification and the regular re-certification allows you to give back to the community as there is an expectation that you are sharing your knowledge in many possible ways
    • Conference Attendance as both a delegate and a presenter
    • Articles, White Papers, Blogs, Books and lots of different publications
    • Training both internally and externally on your favourite Data Management topics
    • Providing new Questions for the CDMP
  • Salary expectations are higher – you have a certification that shows you are a Data Management professional which allows you to require that your salary is in line with that expertise

So what is next? Now that the student has decided which of the many reasons is the right one for them, they need to consider where in the program they should begin. Due to the nature of the certificate as a career path driven program, not everyone has to start at the beginning

There are 4 levels of certification:

The CDMP Associate is aimed at beginners in Data Management. Ideally individuals who have perhaps just graduated and have been getting involved in a data project; typically around 6 months to 2 years of working with data (be in governance, migration, database administration, etc). One exam is taken, the pass mark is 60% and the requirement is that the individual understands broadly what Data Management is and can cover the theory involved. They will have read the DMBOK, have a good knowledge of most of the usual Data Management terms and knowledge of some of the proponents of Data Management and their material. The certificate is valid for 5 years; at which time the individual upgrades to the CDMP Practitioner. (In certain cases we do allow individuals with up to 5 years data work to take this level, but this is on application only and subject to specific criteria)

The CDMP Practitioner level is aimed at individuals who have 3.5 or more year’s full time experience in a Data Management role. They have not only theoretical knowledge (a Conceptual Data Model is …) but also practical ability to implement (we used a CDM when we were creating a new online ordering application for …) . Three exams are written, one being Data Management Advanced; the other two are elected from a list of exams – all based on the DMBOK functions. The DM Advanced exam tests breadth of knowledge and practical expertise, whereas the electives test the depth and expertise in the topic. Don’t be surprised to find questions related to the “guru’s” – what they think, suggest and opine. Exams need to be passed at 70% and must be taken within one year from the date of the first exam. You may use a certificate gained from another organisation (such as a CBIP, MCSE, TOGAF, etc) in place of one elective only where it is valid and active at the time of the exam. You will be required to keep that certification up to date as well. Re-certification is every three years and requires 160 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) credits

The CDMP Master level is aimed at individuals who have 10 or more year’s full time experience in a Data Management role. This level builds on the knowledge and expertise shown at the Practitioner level. Generally, we see CDMP Masters as having led or currently leading on data related projects/ programs. They are the trusted source in their organisation and share their knowledge and expertise/ experience both internally and externally by blogging;  writing white papers, books, articles; attending conferences as both a presenter and a delegates; and generally giving back to the Data Management community. Three exams are required plus a Case Study which we publish. The pass mark for the exams is 80% and any cross-substitution requested requires a similar level of marking/ expertise to be validated (this limits the number of substitutions we can allow). Re-certification is also done every three years with the same number of CPD’s required, but the swing between Learning (where you are taking in knowledge) and Knowledge (where you are providing knowledge) means that of the 160 credits 100 must be on the Knowledge spectrum

The CDMP Fellow level does not require further exams or case studies to be written. Individuals may only be nominated to this level and will need to have met all the criteria for CDMP Master. We also expect the CDMP Fellow to have been in a Data Management role/ practice or field for at least 20 years and be a well-known, respected Master of their speciality. Fellows do not need to re-certify but will be expected to maintain their level of expertise and keep up their community work. A retired Data Management Professional may still maintain his/ her CDMP Fellow but will not be eligible for a CDMP Fellow Board position

A quick comparison of the levels:




The costs vary from level to level with the CDMP Associate exams at US$220 and the CDMP Practitioner/ Master exams at US$250. There is a cost for certificate substitution, the Case Study and Re-certification. A mandatory requirement is to be a DAMA Member – this can be either at the central level or a Chapter.

So now you are ready for the exams, what do you do? The first step in the process is to register on the DAMA I website (https://www.dama.org/content/register-online-exam). Once we have received your registration and payment we process the detail and you receive your exam URL. This enables you to schedule your exam online through an organisation called ProctorU. On the date of your exam, you log on to the exam URL as well as to ProctorU, sit back in your comfy chair and take the exams. Results of exams are available when you finish and your profile is sent to you shortly after. Certificates are issued at the discretion of DAMA I and the exams, your résumé and eligibility are subject to random checks prior to the certificate being issued. Alternatively, if you are attending one of the Data Management conferences at which DAMA is either a sponsor, co-host or involved, please visit the conference site to identify if exams and the CDMP Preparation Workshop are available. We offer a “pay if you pass” structure at these events

For all the details on the CDMP please visit our website: https://www.dama.org/content/certification. If you have any questions, please email cdmp@dama.org. This is an unmanned group email box dedicated to CDMP questions, regularly accessed  by the CDMP team.

Sue Geuens started in Data Management during 1996 when she was handed a disk with a list of builders on it and told they were hers to manage. Sue mentions this as fate taking over and providing her with what she was “meant to do”. Various data roles later, her clients numbered 3 of the top 4 banking institutions in SA, a number of telco’s and various pension funds, insurance companies and health organisations. Sue was the initial designer of data quality matching algorithms for a SA built Data Quality and Matching tool (Plasma Mind). This experience has stood her in good stead as she has slowly but surely climbed the ladder in Southern Africa to become the first CDMP in the country. Sue worked tirelessly on starting up DAMA SA with the successful Inaugural meeting in February of 2009. She was unanimously voted as President just prior to this event. From that time on Sue has been the leader and driving force of the DAMA SA Board. Sue has been the DAMAI VP Operations since 2011 and is the DAMA I President for 2014. She is a sought after presenter and has been a prominent speaker at EDW in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, DAMA Brazil, DAMA Australia in 2013 and IRMUK in 2006 and 2011.

Copyright DAMA International

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