Essential Steps to a Data Management Certification from CDMP

cdmpData Management professionals know the value of Data Management certification, especially when that certification is under the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP). At last year’s Enterprise Data World conference (2013 conference in San Diego), IT professional Patricia Cupoli gave an in-depth overview of the CDMP certification process.

With more than 25 years in the technology field, Cupoli currently runs the CDMP certification program for DAMA International. This is in addition to her position as an Enterprise Data Architect for a healthcare insurance company. Cupoli teaches CDMP certification courses online, offering test preparation for data professionals seeking certification.

Why Take the Exam?

While the costs associated with preparing and taking the exam usually exceed $1,000, many companies are willing to pay these fees in order to increase their standing in the field. As the number of CDMP-certified professionals grows, a higher percentage of job listings list CDMP certification as a requirement. Consistently, surveys show that CDMP-certified data professionals earn more and advance at a more rapid pace than non-certified data professionals.

Certification Exams

As Cupoli explained, a large portion of the CDMP test questions are based on the Data Management Body of Knowledge (DMBOK). The DAMA website has an example of how the CDMP and DMBOK correlate, with each area of the DAMA DMBOK covered on a different area of the certification test.

During the class, Cupoli focused heavily on the tests required to obtain certification, as well as reviewing the process of taking these exams. Instead of running participants through a time pressured exam, Cupoli focused on reviewing the answers to test questions. Attendees are expected to have a base knowledge of Data Management prior to preparing for the test, which they will then supplement with the knowledge they gain through their studies.

Explaining the ICCP

Located in Chicago, The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) is a longstanding consortium of professional organizations that administers exams for DAMA. This group combines their knowledge across a variety of industries to determine best practices for certification of data professionals. Each of ICCP’s exams are vendor- and product-neutral, ensuring each certified professional has equal footing in the testing process.

DAMA collects a large number of statistics to make sure the exam is accurate for the industry on an ongoing basis. By comparing the success of those who have passed certification, the CDMP maintains its integrity in the industry. As a partner of DAMA’s, the ICCP handles the exam administration for DAMA.

Exams for Certification

As Cupoli explained during the class, CDMP certification requires three separate exams, each timed at 90 minutes, with 110 multiple-choice questions on each test. The vast majority of those questions are based on personal experience, with ten of those questions being both random and unscored. To achieve mastery level, data professionals must achieve a 70 percent or better score. A score between 50 and 69 percent is practitioner level. The three exams are:

  • IS Core: This exam covers the core knowledge base that each data professional should have. The IS Core tests a professional’s ability to use technology to reach organizational goals, as well as their communication, analysis, and teamwork skills. The IS Core exam will also test a professional on project management and business fundamentals.
  • Data Management Core: With this test, professionals will demonstrate their comprehension of Data Management processes and Data Management functions. This exam also determines a professional’s level of knowledge on such issues as Data Security principles and Data Warehousing.
  • Specialty Exam: This suite of tests allows professionals to choose from a selection of 25 exams that focus on various specialties of working with data. Specialty tests include Business Intelligence and Analytics, IT Compliance, Systems Development, and the Zachman Enterprise Framework.

In order to achieve mastery on the CDMP, a professional must have at least four years of professional experience, with two years required for practitioner level. For those who have not yet met those requirements, an appropriate undergraduate or graduate degree can be substituted for up to 24 months of those experience requirements. Re-certification is required every three years.

Helpful Tips

During the session, Cupoli provided several helpful tips to attendees. After emphasizing that professionals can take the exams in any order, Cupoli recommended:

  • Don’t leave anything blank. There’s no penalty for guessing, Cupoli pointed out. By using the process of elimination, those taking the certification exam can usually narrow the choices down to two, look for the best answer.
  • The possible answers are called “distractors.” Look at the question, which is called the “stem” and note any capitalized letters (such as “Not” and “Except”).
  • If for some reason you should score less than 50 percent, you can take the CDMP certification exam as many times as you need. The only stipulation is that you must wait 30 days between exams for a retake. ICCP discounts fees ten percent for retakesExams are offered at DAMA International symposiums, meetings like the Enterprise Data World, and at some DAMA chapter meetings. With the presence of an ICCP testing proctor, the exam can be administered anywhere in the world.


If you were unable to be present at the Enterprise Data World for the exam prep course, there are plenty of other learning opportunities available. ICCP regularly sponsors review courses through DAMA and other sources, including working with companies to provide certification opportunities to staff.

A CDMP Exam Study Guide and exam review course is available by e-mailing A suite of study materials and information is available through ICCP’s site:

Prior to registering for an exam, professionals have the option of purchasing one of ICCP’s study packages. ICCP offers six separate 12-week sessions, including the IS Core. Each test prep course covers the specific text that should be studied prior to taking the test. In the case of the IS Core, for example, the text covered is Management Information Systems for the Information Age by Stephen Haag and Maeve Cummings, which is widely available online. Tutored courses are available, but ICCP also offers a less expensive self-study option. More information on these courses is available from the ICCP office at 1-800-843-8227.

There are several fees associated with the CDMP exam, each of which is payable through The fee for the IS Core and Specialty Exam is $285 each, with the Language Exam costing $175. Each site charges a $50 proctor fee.

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