I have successfully undertaken certification for a number of financial databases over the last three years, which has helped me in my role in the Business Data Service.
The certification process involves becoming familiar with content relating to a database. This is represented in a series of videos on which the examination(s) are based. Upon successful completion of the examination(s), a certificate is emailed to the candidate, which can then be added to their curriculum vitae.
This article sets out my experiences and thoughts on database certification, comparing and contrasting Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters’ certification schemes.
Although the certification process for Bloomberg Professional is commonly known as ‘Bloomberg Certification’, the official title (on the certificate) is ‘Bloomberg Essentials Training Program’.
Videos are viewed and examinations taken at a Bloomberg terminal using the BESS [Bloomberg Essentials Online Training Program] function code, and pressing the Enter/GO key to display the screen below. You can then scroll down for the video titles/links (four core, four market sector) and duration.
Questions are based on the content within the videos. A candidate would need to obtain a Bloomberg Personal Login and use this to login to Bloomberg prior to taking the examinations from the BESS screen. A minimum of two examinations need to be passed (core plus one market sector) to obtain a certificate from the BESS screen.
Certification is currently provided in three areas: Datastream, Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking and Eikon. Having undertaken the first two, I will deal with these, which follow the same format.
Videos are web based: at Thomson Reuters Product Certification, lasting between one and seven minutes, compared to the 18 to 35 minutes for Bloomberg. No prior knowledge (as with Bloomberg) is required for the c.130 Datastream and c.40 ThomsonONE.com Investment Banking videos.
You click on the required option and follow the prompts to view the videos.
There is a single examination for each product (e.g. Datastream) with questions based on the content in the videos. As with the training videos, the examination can be taken from any location with web access – so not necessarily in the library.
I gave a 30-minute session covering the steps involved in certification for the database in question. Adapting to the reaction of students in the first training sessions, I added an introductory section in the middle, which covers searching and the type of information/data available within each database. This allows students to get an appreciation of the ‘look and feel’ of the product, rather than just concentrating on the key steps in certification. This definitely improved the training and resulted in a more rounded course and better student attention.
Certification benefits – students
Employability: an additional qualification which can help to set students apart from other candidates – who may otherwise have very similar qualifications, for which there is no charge.
Database overview: certification gives an overview of searching techniques for a database, to enable more effective use of the content available. For example, completing Datastream certification would mean an MSc student on a finance-related course would be fully prepared to search for quantitative data in support of their dissertation.
Flexible working: students can progress at their own pace and choose when to take the examination(s).
Certification benefits – library staff
Builds technical knowledge: to improve capabilities when answering student research enquiries.
Flexible working: I could progress at my own pace, taking into account other work commitments. This is reflected in my certification completion dates: Bloomberg (November 2011), Datastream (February 2013) and Thomson ONE.com Investment Banking (January 2014).
Database promotion: a means to promote the use of Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters databases to students, emphasising the benefits to be had.
By providing certification training to guide students and promote success in the certification process, the Library is helping achieve a University goal – to improve the employability of our students.
In setting the level of difficulty, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have struck the right balance – sufficiently rigorous to be seen as having value by employers, but not so difficult that only a few can pass the examinations.
The provision of the certification schemes by Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters is a great benefit and represents a worthwhile investment of time for both students and library staff.
For further information, see an extended post on Business Research Plus.