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The GitHub Certification Guide for Data Professionals

Start the process of getting a GitHub certification, which will elevate your data career by giving you the tools and recognition needed to excel in any field.
Jun 2024  · 15 min read

Image showing all GitHub certification digital badges.GitHub certification digital badges. Source: Github Certification Registration 

As a data professional, you can’t overemphasize the importance of version control which is the tracking and managing of changes to your code bases. Most of your daily tasks will involve collaborating with team members in data management, and building reports, dashboards, and data models.

Version control makes it easy to track and revert to previous changes when things go wrong. This is why knowing Git is important. There are other version control systems, but Git is the most popular. While Git keeps track of changes in your codebase, GitHub lets you host, share, and manage your Git repositories online. 

You choose who gets to view and make changes to your work. Most of the open-source libraries you use are hosted on GitHub. Both aspiring data analysts and seasoned veterans must have a sound knowledge of version control, especially with Git and GitHub, since they are the most popular in the tech industry. 

In this article, I will guide you to the appropriate GitHub certification for your career as a data professional. I will also prepare you on how to ace the GiHub certification exams and demonstrate to employers your ability to automate workflows and secure and manage complex code repositories. And if you are totally new to Github, start with our introductory blog post: Understanding GitHub: What is GitHub and How to Use It which is a great first read.

What are GitHub Certifications?

GitHub certifications are an industry-recognized way of certifying your knowledge of GitHub technologies to impress employers. It validates your ability to use GitHub for various workflows. For now, GitHub offers four certifications:

  • GitHub Foundations: This certification tests your knowledge of basics and core GitHub topics. 
  • GitHub Actions Certification: This is an intermediate certification that tests your knowledge of workflow automation with GitHub.
  • GitHub Advanced Security Certification: This certification certifies your knowledge of implementing security best practices on GitHub.
  • GitHub Administration Certification: This certifies your ability to maintain complex repositories and collaborate with others. 

Components of GitHub Certifications

In this section, I will walk you through the components of a GitHub certification, breaking it down into four clear and manageable steps. These steps will ensure you have all the information and preparation needed to earn your results.

Step 1: Find answers to the most common questions

  • How can I Register? To register, you can go to the GitHub certification website, where you will see registration links for the various certifications offered.
  • Are there any prerequisites? There are no required prerequisites, but I recommend you have a practical knowledge of the respective GitHub technology you are getting certified for.
  • Do I need to register for all certifications? No, each certification measures various skill sets. You can go for the certification relevant to your career goals. If you need additional training, each certification has study materials you can always find to study more.
  • How much do the exams cost? Each certification is the same price: $99.
  • Are badges and certifications available? Yes, GitHub is partnered with Credly so you will have a digital badge and certification within 24-48 hours after passing the certification. This badge is also sharable on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. It is currently valid for at least three years, subject to change based on updates to the products covered in the certification.

Step 2: Get ready for the exam

If you have a working knowledge of a GitHub Certification, you can sign up and take the exams immediately. But it's important to prepare regardless, to ensure that you have a clear grasp of the exam format and the kind of questions asked. Each certification on the website has a “Prepare for the GitHub Foundations exam” section where you will see learning modules to prepare for the certification. 

Image showing how the certifications appear on the certification website with also links to their respective
 learning paths.Certification and links to their learning paths. Source: GitHub Resources

These modules cover the skills asked in each certification. Completing them gives you a higher chance of passing. On the certification site, you will also see a concise study guide for each certification. This study guide shows the certification domains/skills and their respective score percentages, ensuring you don’t under-study or over-study some specific domains. 

You can also take free mock exams to reflect on your preparation level and see if you are ready to take the exam. Don’t forget to practice all the concepts you have learned in the modules, as this will aid you in answering practical and case study questions. 

Image showing the links to each certification study guide on the certification websiteLinks to GitHub certification study guides. Source: GitHub Resources

Step 3: Sign up for the exam

You can sign up for the exam on the certification page and schedule to take it online or at a local test center at a convenient date and time. If you are taking your exam online, ensure you have strong and reliable internet access and that your PC meets the required software and hardware specifications

If you choose to conduct your exam at a local test center, you will receive a first appointment within the first 24 hours of booking which you can reschedule within a 2-month time frame. If you can’t meet on your scheduled date, ensure you cancel or reschedule 48 hours before your appointment.

Before starting the exam, you must provide a valid government-issued ID with your name, photo, and signature. Valid IDs include an international Passport, Driver’s ID, Visa, or Green Card. Keep in mind the first and last name you used for registration must match your ID.

Failure to identify yourself is considered a missed appointment with no refund for the exam fee. Ensure you get your ID ready!

The duration of the exam is 120 minutes with 60 scored items, and around 10 - 15 pre-tests depending on the certification. The minimum percentage you must get to pass is around 70% and there are no penalties for wrong answers. 

Step 4: Get your results!

After completing the exams, you will receive your results immediately, followed by a detailed email with the results. Within 48 hours, you should see your results and performance on the measured skill areas displayed on your dashboard. 

If you fail an exam, you can retake it after 24 hours and after 14 days for each consecutive retake after the first retake. You only have 5 attempts to retake the exam. Your score report gives you details on specific skills or areas where your exam performance is weak. This can help you prepare for the next retake. 

Are GitHub Certifications Worth it in 2024?

GitHub certifications are valuable depending on your goals and the specific certifications, whether you are looking to get entry into a job, looking to switch careers, or going into management and consulting. Here are some of the reasons to get a GitHub certification.

GitHub skills are essential

GitHub skills make it easy to contribute to your favorite open-source libraries, open issues when you find a bug, and discuss with the open-source community. The knowledge of GitHub is also transferable to other developer platforms, so you don’t have to learn a new tool from scratch since they both perform similar functions, even though they differ in some features. 

GitHub certifications are valuable for employers 

Whether you are an entry-level data professional or seeking another role, your GitHub certifications show potential employers your ability to manage code repositories, track changes, and collaborate with members of your organization on a project. GitHub certifications indicate a commitment to continuous learning and staying updated with industry standards making you stand out from the crowd.

What Jobs Can You Get With GitHub Certification?

GitHub is important for many jobs. Having these certifications will give you a competitive edge in the job market and show potential employers that you are capable of performing your role. 

Software Developer

Software developers are some of the primary users of GitHub. A software developer does everything from designing, testing, and maintaining software applications. Because software developers and software engineers often work on large teams, they need GitHub for version control and collaboration. GitHub helps them track issues, review code, and deploy their applications when they are ready. 

Data Scientist

A data scientist uses the knowledge of statistical models and machine learning algorithms to explore and extract insights from unstructured or structured data. A data scientist uses tools like Python or R for data analysis and builds predictive models, and version control systems like GitHub to manage and maintain their code, data, and documentation. They also use GitHub to collaborate with team members and the open-source community. 

Data Engineer

A data engineer builds a system that enables the collection and usage of raw data. They make data available for data analysts and data scientists for processing. Data engineers use GitHub as a central hub for version control, collaboration, and code management within their data infrastructure projects. They also use the GitHub issue tracking system to ensure efficient data pipeline development.

Machine Learning Engineer

A machine learning engineer is someone who specializes in the designing, building, and deploying of machine learning models and systems. These systems can learn to make predictions based on data. GitHub is one of the key tools of a machine learning engineer for deploying and tracking changes in machine learning models. They release different machine learning model versions to improve model performance with time. 

MLOps Engineer

MLOps engineers deploy, manage, and optimize machine learning models in production environments. They ensure that machine learning models seamlessly integrate with software systems. They use tools like Docker and Kubernetes to optimize and scale machine learning models in production and GitHub Actions to automate the machine learning deployment process and set up CI/CD pipelines. They also use GitHub as a model registry for storing trained models with their metadata, such as metrics, hyperparameters, and experiment logs. 

Data Architect

A data architect is a professional responsible for designing, creating, and managing an organization’s data architecture. They define how data is stored, organized, integrated, and accessed within an organization’s databases. They ensure data security and integrity within an organization. Data architects use GitHub to collaborate with team members, create and maintain documentation for their data architectures, and describe data models, schemas and flows. They also use GitHub actions to set up automated workflows to validate, test, and deploy changes to their data architectures.

Data Governance Specialist

A data governance specialist is a professional responsible for overseeing the data governance framework within an organization. They ensure that data is accurate, consistent, reliable, and secure by implementing data governance policies, standards, and procedures. Data governance specialists use GitHub to audit logs and access controls, to monitor who has access to sensitive data governance assets and track changes made to those assets.

Database Administrator

A database administrator is a data professional who installs, configures, maintains, and secures organizational databases. They ensure the database runs smoothly and is available to users and applications when needed. They use GitHub to track changes on query scripts over time and collaborate with other team members. They also use it to store configuration files for database servers and tools. 

Summary table

Below is a table that outlines the specific roles you can pursue with a GitHub certification, along with the key responsibilities, the key skills, and the key tools used in each position.

Role What they do Key Skills Key Tools
Software Developers Design, code, test, and maintain software applications. Programming, Software engineering, Version control, Collaboration, Problem-solving, Communication. Git and GitHub, IDEs, Code review tools.
Data Scientist Use statistical models and machine learning algorithms to explore and extract insights from data. Statistical analysis, Programming, Machine learning, Data wrangling, Data visualization, Domain knowledge, Version control. Python, R, Jupyter Notebooks, Git, GitHub.
Data Engineer Build a system to collect, manage, and use raw data. Data modeling, Database management, Programming, Version control and collaboration, Containerization and orchestration, Cloud computing. Data Warehouses, ELT Tools, SQL and NoSQL, Data Lakes, Git and GitHub, Cloud platforms.
Machine Learning Engineer Design, build, and deploy machine learning models. Programming, Machine learning, Software engineering, Deep learning, Artificial intelligence, Version control and collaboration, Domain knowledge. Pytorch, Tensorflow, Scikit-learn, Git and GitHub.
MLOps Engineer Deploy, manage, and optimize machine learning models in production. Programming, Machine learning, Software engineering, DevOps, Version control and collaboration, Cloud computing, Security and Compliance. TensorFlow, PyTorch, Scikit-learn, Docker, Kubernetes, Git and GitHub, Cloud Platforms.
Data Architect Design, create, and manage an organization's data architecture. Database management, Data warehousing, Data Integration, Data governance and security, Version control and collaboration. Data modeling tools, Database Management Systems, Data integration platforms, Data quality tools, Data warehousing tools, Git and GitHub.
Data Governance Specialist Oversee data governance framework in an organization. Data quality management, Regulatory compliance, Data security, and privacy, Policy development and enforcement, Analytical and problem-solving skills, Project management, Communication, and collaboration. Git and GitHub, Data quality tools, Data catalogs, Data privacy and security tools.
Database Administrator Install, configure, maintain, and secure the database of an organization. Database management, Version control, Database design and architecture, Data monitoring and programming. Git and GitHub, SQL and NoSQL.

List of All GitHub Certifications

GitHub Foundations

This certification validates your knowledge of GitHub foundation topics such as collaborating, contributing, and working on GitHub. It also assesses your proficiency in GitHub’s basic features and best practices. 

  • What is it?  Validates your knowledge of GitHub core features.
  • Skills tested: 
    • Basics of Git and GitHub
    • Working with GitHub repositories
    • Collaboration features
    • Modern development
    • Project management
    • Privacy, Security, and Administration
    • Benefits of GitHub community.
  • Prerequisites: Solid foundation of Git and GitHub
  • Who is it for? Entry-level data professionals with minimal GitHub experience
  • Cost: $99
  • Exam format: 60 MCQ 
  • Validity: Minimum of three years depending on the evolution of the product assessed in the certification.
  • Where to get started: 

GitHub Actions

If your daily tasks involve automating and streamlining workflows, then this certification is for you. The GitHub Actions certification validates your knowledge of workflow creation, automation, and building CI/CD pipelines with GitHub Actions.

  • What is it? Assess your knowledge of creating and automating workflows using GitHub actions.
  • Skills tested: 
    • Workflow authorization and maintenance
    • Consuming of workflows
    • Authorization and maintenance of actions
    • Management of GitHub Actions for the enterprise. 
  • Prerequisites: Solid foundation and basic experience with GitHub Actions.
  • Who is it for? 
    • MLOps Engineers
    • Data Scientists
    • Data Architects
    • Data Engineers
    • Machine Learning Engineers
  • Cost: $99
  • Exam format: 60 MCQs.
  • Validity: Minimum of three years, depending on the evolution of the product assessed in the certification.
  • Where to get started: 

GitHub Advanced Security

This certification assesses your knowledge of identifying vulnerabilities, securing workflows, and implementing security best practices to maintain code integrity.

  • What is it? Validates your ability to secure workflows and implement security best practices.
  • Skills tested: 
    • GHAS security features and functionality
    • Configuration and use of secret scanning
    • Configuration and use of dependency management
    • Configuration and use of code scanning
    • Use of code scanning with CodeQL
    • GitHub Advanced Security best practices
    • Configuration of GitHub Advanced Security tools in GitHub Enterprise.
  • Prerequisites: Deep understanding of GitHub and its security features and experience securing software development workflows. 
  • Who is it for? 
    • Data Governance Specialists
    • Database Administrators
    • MLOps Engineers
    • Data Engineers
    • Data Architects
  • Cost: $99
  • Exam format: 60 MCQs
  • Validity: Minimum of three years, depending on the evolution of the product assessed in the certification.
  • Where to get started: 

GitHub Administration

The certification aims to validate the knowledge of GitHub enterprise Administration to maintain a secured GitHub environment that meets organizational and developer needs. 

  • What is it? Validates knowledge of GitHub Enterprise Administration.
  • Skills tested: 
    • GitHub enterprise support for users and key stakeholders
    • Management of user identities and GitHub authentication
    • Knowledge of GitHub deployment, distribution, and licensing
    • Access and permissions management based on membership
    • Enabling secure software development and compliance
    • GitHub Actions management
    • GitHub packages management.
  • Prerequisites: Solid foundation and basic experience with GitHub Administration.
  • Who is it for? 
    • MLOps Engineer
    • Database Administrators
  • Cost: $99
  • Exam format: 60 MCQs
  • Validity: Minimum of three years depending on the evolution of the product assessed in the certification.
  • Where to get started: 

How to Choose the Right GitHub Certification

Alignment with career goals

Even though you can choose to take all certifications, go for the one that best aligns with your career. If you are seeking a junior role, you should go for the GitHub Foundations certification first. Someone with some years of practical experience with GitHub can take up any of the specialist certifications depending on the relevance to their career goals. The table below is a summary of data roles and their respective certification.

Role GitHub Foundations GitHub Actions GitHub Advanced Security GitHub Administrator
Software Developers Recommended Recommended - -
Data Scientist Recommended Recommended - -
Data Engineer Recommended Recommended Recommended -
Machine Learning Engineer Recommended Recommended - -
MLOps Engineer Recommended Recommended Recommended Recommended
Data Architect Recommended Recommended Recommended -
Data Governance Specialist Recommended - Recommended -
Database Administrator Recommended - Recommended Recommended

Difficulty level

The certification exams vary in terms of difficulty. The GitHub Foundations certification is the easiest since it assesses knowledge of core GitHub concepts, while the other certifications are more advanced because they are specialized and test specific GitHub technologies.

Cost and investment

All the GitHub certifications have the same fee. If you don’t have the finances to take all the certifications relevant to you, you can decide to go for the most important certification in your field and take the others subsequently with time. 

How to Pass the GitHub Certifications?

Understand all the logistics involved

Ensure you read the candidate handbook to guide you on how to successfully conduct the exams. Talk to experts, mentors, or those who have had experience writing the exams to give you tips on how to succeed in the examinations and explain challenging concepts to you. 

If you are going to write at a local test center, ensure you are familiar with the location before the day of the examination. Ensure you also have all the required means of government identification before the examination and you don’t make any mistakes when providing details during registration, unmatching details with your means of identification can disqualify you from taking the exams.

If you choose to conduct the exam online, ensure that your PC meets the minimum software and hardware requirements and that you have access to a strong and reliable internet connection. 

Prepare and study in advance

Ensure you finish all the modules in the certification learning path and concentrate on skills or domains with the highest percentage. Many online platforms offer mock exams, so ensure you conduct these mock exams to judge your level of preparation and know the skills where you are weakest. 

Secure a quiet spot on the day of the certification exam

Ensure where you decide to write the exams is quiet and no one enters the room throughout the examination. If you encounter any problem when writing the exams, ensure you communicate with the proctor through the chat window.

Techniques for mastering practical tasks

Practice, practice, and practice! Don’t just read the theory in the modules without practicing. You might encounter case study questions. Effective practice will ensure you answer these questions correctly. 

Common pitfalls to avoid on exam day

Here are some common things to watch out for on exam day. 

  • Ineffective time management: Failing to allocate appropriate time to each section of the exam can result in incomplete answers and rushed responses.
  • Plagiarism and cheating: This one goes without saying.  Engaging in dishonest practices not only violates exam rules but can also lead to severe academic penalties.
  • Unnecessary breaks and distractions during the exam: Taking frequent breaks or allowing distractions can disrupt your focus and decrease overall performance.
  • Spending too much time on complex questions: Getting stuck on difficult questions can consume valuable time that could be better spent on questions you are more confident about.
  • Not revising all questions before submission: Neglecting to review your answers can lead to missed errors and preventable mistakes that could impact your final score.

Maintaining your Certification

Certification renewal process

Your certification is valid for three years after passing your test. However, as the product evolves, GitHub will release a new exam to cover the updates made to the product. 

Staying updated with GitHub features and updates

The best ways to stay current with GitHub features and updates are to be an active community member, contribute to open-source projects, discuss with community members, and participate in workshops and conferences. This keeps you up to date with what is new and trending.

Beyond GitHub Certifications: Get Certified as a Data Professional

Getting certified by GitHub is not the end but a means to an end. It shows your ability to collaborate and use a version control system. But you need to demonstrate your core skills depending on the career path you are on. There are a variety of professional data certifications on DataCamp to supplement your GitHub certification. These certifications not only prove that you can collaborate with others on GitHub but also deliver on the job as a data professional. Together taken, these certifications tell a compelling story to any prospective employer.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should already have in mind the certification you are going for, the benefit to your career, and what it takes to prepare and pass the exam. In conclusion, earning a GitHub certification is a huge achievement that will help you in the long run by boosting your career as a data professional.

As the data industry evolves, staying current with tools like GitHub highlights your technical prowess and dedication to continuous learning. Check out these resources to learn how to use GitHub technologies as a data professional.

Good luck on your exam!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the value of getting a GitHub certification for data professionals?

Obtaining a GitHub certification demonstrates your proficiency in using GitHub tools and technologies. It demonstrates your proficiency in version control, collaboration, and best practices using GitHub which is an important skill for managing and sharing code effectively when working with data.

Which GitHub certifications are available and relevant for data professionals?

GitHub offers four certifications: GitHub Foundations, GitHub Actions, GitHub Advanced Security, and GitHub Administration which are all relevant when working with data depending on your daily task as a data professional.

How can I prepare for a GitHub certification exam?

Preparation for a GitHub certification involves practical experience and going through the provided learning modules for the certification.

What skills and knowledge are assessed in GitHub certification exams?

Depending on the certification exams, GitHub certification can measure skills such as understanding version control concepts, collaboration, workflow automation, and securing and managing workflows.

How do GitHub certification exams compare to other industry certifications for data professionals?

GitHub certifications are highly regarded for their focus on practical hands-on skills in version control and collaboration which are essential for data professionals.

What is the minimum percentage I must get to pass?

The minimum percentage you must get to pass is around 70%. There are no penalties for wrong answers.

How many attempts do you have to take each test, in case you don’t pass?

You have 5 attempts to retake the exam.

For how long is my GitHub certification valid?

Your certification is valid for three years after passing your test.

Photo of Adejumo Ridwan Suleiman
Adejumo Ridwan Suleiman

Experienced data science instructor and Biostatistician with expertise in Python, R, and machine learning.


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