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The Ultimate Guide to Data Management Certification: CDMP vs DCAM vs CIMP

Data Management Certification - CDMP vs DCAM vs CIMP

Are you thinking about getting certified in Data Management, but unsure what choice is right for you?

Are you trying to train a team, or to adopt an Industry Standard framework like the DAMA DMBoK or EDM Council’s DCAM in your organisation?

If so, this Ultimate Guide to Data Management Certification will help you pick the right framework, training and certification to meet your needs. 

Why you need to read this guide

Because all our Consultants have taken and passed the CDMP, DCAM v2.2 and CIMP or CIMP Ex Certification, giving us a unique perspective into the options available and an impartial comparison on the benefits of each.

Want to Download the Guide?

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Table of Contents


Interest in Data Management Certification has exploded in recent years, driven by the growing need for organisations to unlock the value in their data.

Today’s firms grapple with: 

  • A global talent shortage 
  • An explosion in the volume, variety and velocity of the data they create and consume, and; 
  • An exponentially growing set of complexity in their data and technology landscapes

Many turn to standard frameworks like the DAMA DMBoK, the EDM Council’s DCAM, or to training providers like eLearningcurve with their CIMP  and CIMP Ex curriculum in order to reduce the complexity and shore up their talent pool.

The drive for accreditation

As a result of these pressures, it is increasingly common to find a requirement on a Job Ad or Consultant Profile Description that asks for:

  • CDMP accreditation
  • DCAM accreditation, or
  • CIMP and/or CIMP Ex accreditation

This Ultimate Guide is designed to help you understand the pros and cons of each, and to make the right choice about your own training needs.

Do I need Data Management Certification?

Let’s kick off with the basics – who needs to be certified in Data Management to begin with?

Typically we see three main reasons why students want Data Management Certification:

  1. They are changing jobs, and see that new job posts include requirements for formal Data Management Training or Accreditation
  2. The student has worked in the field for many years, often as a technical consultant, and wants to learn “best practice” and a “holistic view of Data Management”
  3. Their company is willing to fund Training and they may as well get a recognisable badge from taking the training

You do not need to be certified in Data Management in order to succeed in Data Management. However it is increasingly common for Companies to request Data Management Accreditation for new hires, so it is a useful line item for your Resume.

Why do Companies want to hire Certified Data Management Professionals?

Many firms struggle to implement Data Management successfully. It can be a frustrating, lonely and challenging field. As a result, these companies find safety in numbers – looking to adopt “an Industry Standard Framework” or best practices in order to succeed.

The two major Frameworks are the DAMA DMBoK and the EDM Council DCAM approach – depending on the country you work in, either or both might be preferred by hiring managers.


The average data maturity from our 2021 research still needs a lot of work

Low investment in in-house resources

One less obvious, ugly truth is that many firms do not invest in their Data Management Team in the first place. It’s easier to hire a certified resource than to create in-house training or invest in training your existing talent pool.

Our 2021 Data Maturity research discovered the following:

Data Management hires are internal, largely from I.T. and given little or no training

Hiring Certified Data Management Professionals is a shortcut to getting the skills in house that you cannot develop yourself.

What is the Best Data Management Certification?

In our opinion, the “best data management certification” is the one that delivers maximum value to the person or organisation paying for it.

This guide will compare the 3 main choices, but you need to realise that the answer to this question lies in the specific context of the person asking it:

  1. What is your current level of knowledge in Data Management?
  2. What will you do differently once you’ve been certified in Data Management?
  3. Does your firm use one of the existing frameworks, which might suggest that’s the right choice for you?
  4. Which certification is most sought after in your country or region?
  5. How much time and money can you afford to get certified?

Read this guide to better understand your options so you can pick the right choice for your career, company and colleagues.

What are the differences between DAMA DMBoK, DCAM and CIMP qualifications?

This guide focuses on the 3 qualifications the Cognopia team has been accredited for. If you are only interested in “brand value” of the certification, the rank order would be:

  1. DAMA Certified Data Management Professional “CDMP” Accreditation
  2. EDM Council “DCAM v2.2” Accreditation
  3. eLearningCurve “CIMP” Accreditation

Let’s walk through each at a high level and explain what each sets out to achieve.

What is CDMP Certification?

CDMP Certification stands for “Certified Data Management Professional”. It is offered by the Data Management Association – “DAMA” for short, and requires students to pass a 100 question exam that tests their knowledge of the DAMA Data Management Body of Knowledge, or DMBoK for short.


What are the different CDMP designations?

The CDMP has multiple tiers – attaining a higher tier is a function of the exam score you achieve.

CDMP Certification Tiers
4 tiers of CDMP Certification

What is the CDMP Associate Tier?

The CDMP Associate level is the lowest level of CDMP certification and is achieved through passing the Data Management Fundamentals exam with a score of 60% or greater. 

If you pass the exam, you’ll get a Central DAMA Membership, and DAMA themselves recommend this for those with 6 months to 5 years of experience.

Cognopia's View on the CDMP Associate Tier

Become a “CDMA” or Certified Data Management Associate is the bare minimum goal for anyone looking at DAMA accreditation. 

DAMA’s suggestion that someone with 6 month’s experience could attain this accreditation is probably not true. It may be so if you have prior experience in a related field, but there’s way too much to learn for this to be realistic for a new graduate, for example.

The exception to this would be if you have paid for a “bootcamp” style CDMP training course, where the focus is on exam prep – training the student to attain a 60% passing grade, not training them on the breadth and depth of the DMBoK itself. 

Be aware that this is the “cheapest” tier you can get – the Data Management Fundamentals exam is $311 USD. Even if you pass this at 100%, you cannot claim to be at a higher tier without paying for and passing the CDMP Specialist Exams, which cost an additional $311 USD each.

What is the CDMP Practitioner Tier?

A CDMP Practitioner requires a 70% passing grade on the Data Management Fundamentals exam, PLUS a 70% passing grade on any two of the 7 “Specialist Exams” that DAMA offers. 

You get the same DAMA Membership when you achieve this grade, and the system will automatically generate a “CDMP Practitioner” Badge (simply for passing the Fundamentals exam at 70+%), however you should theoretically pass 2 Specialist Exams before claiming to have this accreditation.

DAMA recommends that this level requires 2-10 years experience in Data Management.

Cognopia's View on the CDMP Practitioner Tier

This is a sort of “sandwich tier” of qualification. If all you need is the CDMP badge on your profile, there’s limited value in chasing a higher score and gaining the “Practitioner” designation, as this is only gained by passing 2 more exams. 

Getting CDMP Practitioner accreditation costs $933 USD (assuming you pass each exam at the first time of asking), so those chasing this tier would be better off aiming for the CDMP Master accreditation (it has the same process, only with higher passing marks and a need for industry experience). 

Their recommendation to have 2+ years of Data Management experience is a good one. We believe you should have at least 2 years experience before chasing any of the CDMP certifications, as the content is difficult to comprehend without working context. 

What is the CDMP Master Tier?

To get the CDMP Master accreditation, you need at least an 80% passing grade on the Data Management Fundamentals exam, PLUS an 80% passing grade on any two of the 7 “Specialist Exams” that DAMA offers. 

The slight nuance of the CDMP Master Tier is that, whilst you’ll get the badge simply by passing the Data Management Fundamentals exam at or above 80%, you need to submit your CV to DAMA for them to verify you have at least 10 years experience “in the data field”.

DAMA charges you a $50 USD administration fee to review your documents, which means this is a more expensive tier – costing $983 USD in total to get.

Cognopia's View on the CDMP Master Tier

This is realistically the “Gold Standard” from DAMA (if you’re a “CDMP Fellow” then you likely don’t need the accreditation or badge on your CV to get work, anyway).

There may be value in chasing this if you want to work as a Consultant in Data Management – being able to demonstrate a superior level of knowledge to other consultants, plus the industry experience could have bragging rights.

In reality, no company is going to make a decision based on whether you got a marginally higher score on a few exams than another candidate. By the time you’re talking about getting a new job or acting as a consulting advisor your own knowledge, experience and presentation style will carry far more weight than the tier that DAMA has given you. 

What is the CDMP Fellow Tier?

This level of DAMA membership is by invite only, and needs the candidate to have >25 years experience in the data field.

There’s also an expectation of “Significant Contribution to the Data management profession and the DMBoK”, so unless you’re really passionate about Data Management it’s unlikely to be an aspiration for many students.

What is the CDMP Data Management Fundamentals Exam?

In order to attain any of the CDMP Tiers, students must take and pass the CDMP Data Management Fundamentals exam. The only way to purchase this exam is via the DAMA website itself. 

The exam itself is 100 multiple choice (select one from a list of 5) questions covering the subject areas highlighted in the DAMA wheel:

The DAMA Wheel has 11 components

Here are the subject areas (ranked by subject priority weighting):

  • Data Governance -11%
  • Metadata Management -11%
  • Data Modelling and Design -11%
  • Data Quality -11%
  • Data Warehousing and BI -10%
  • Master and Reference Data Management -10%
  • Data Architecture -6%
  • Document and Content Management -6%
  • Data Integration and Interoperability -6%
  • Data Security -6%
  • Data Storage and Operations -6%

In addition to the subjects above, the CDMP Data Management Fundamentals exam also asks questions on:

  • Data Management Process -2%
  • Big Data -2%
  • Data Ethics -2%

Students need to know that these subjects are not equally weighted – here’s the breakdown of how many questions you’ll get on each topic:

The CDMP Data Management Fundamentals exam subject breakdown
Focus your learning on the most important topics

The pass mark is 60%, but most students want to aim above the 80% Master Level of certification. Let’s look at how you achieve that.

Preparing for the CDMP Exam

The most obvious preparation for passing the CDMP exam is to purchase a copy of the DMBoK and read it cover-to-cover. The exam itself is “open book” which means you are allowed to use one textbook whilst you complete the answers. Given the questions are supposedly testing your knowledge of the DMBoK, this is the best text to take into the exam.

The book comes as a physical copy ($79.95 USD) OR an electronic copy ($59.95) . You may have a personal preference for hard or soft copy books, but we would recommend the soft copy as you can use CTRL+F to find answers during the exam, whereas with the physical book you need to manually search, which will eat up precious exam time.

There is another book “Navigating the Labyrinth” that DAMA also recommends as an “Executive overview” of the DMBoK itself. The Cognopia team read the excerpt of this online and decided not to purchase the book, however others do recommend the content.

Studying for the CDMP - major challenges

One of the biggest reasons that students fail to achieve the CDMP certification is because they’re studying for the CDMP in the wrong way.

If you follow the standard DAMA advice, you’ll need to read the DMBoK from end-to-end. This makes sense until you realise the book is 628 pages long, and the content is as dry as three day old toast.

Those that have purchased a physical copy of the DMBoK book are put off by the sheer size and weight of the text – it’s the size of a phone book – and this reminds most people of their time as a student, lugging heavy textbooks around and spending late nights fuelled by coffee and Red Bull to cram for exams.

As a result, many students fail to even take the test in the first place – they never get through more than 50% of the book before they give up.

Given the cost of the exam, no-one wants to risk taking the exam until they know for sure they’ll get the passing mark they need. You only get one attempt to pass, otherwise you must pay a further $200 USD to re-sit the test. Scary stuff

What about CDMP Training?

DAMA has a list of authorised training providers that can provide either remote or in person training to individuals and teams. 

Most of these training providers are expensive – typically offering courses in the $1,000-$2,000 USD price range, which is more suitable to corporate clients (or to those that are changing jobs and believe the investment is worthwhile to secure a better role/salary in their next job).

One other criticism of the CDMP Training options is that they don’t actually focus on teaching the content of the DMBoK. Instead, they focus on ensuring that students cram the right knowledge to pass the exam at 60% or higher. They do this using a combination of focused study and example exam questions designed to mimic the test (i.e. help you rote learn the answers).

CDMP Exam Sample Questions

Other options include CDMP Udemy Courses, which also include a question bank. This is substantially cheaper (Udemy courses are always on sale), but the online reviews indicate that the questions are a poor representation of the exam itself. Customers of these courses that Cognopia has talked to say they are not worth the money.

Try Cognopia's Free CDMP Practice Exam

We have designed a 40 question, free CDMP Practice Exam that you can take to test your knowledge.

There is no time limit on the test, but you can time yourself and try to complete it in less than 36 minutes.

The questions are balanced according to the subject weightings DAMA uses, and the practice will help you identify weak spots and build your knowledge and skills.

Click here to take the test.

CDMP Study Guides

Lastly there are study guides, example exam questions, and a set of study notes that are highly recommended on the DataStratgegyPros website. These are much cheaper than the authorised training providers, however the Cognopia team did not find much use for the content:

  • The CDMP Fundamentals Notes is a 35 page long summary of the DMBoK chapters. Whilst it’s shorter and easier to read than the DMBoK itself, we found the reduction in content also reduced the necessary context to understand the subject matter.
  • The CDMP question set was more use, with 3 lists of 50 questions and then 50 answer sets that also reference the DMBoK. The issue here is that we disagreed with some of the answers and found the references to the DMBoK were often not landing us on useful/relevant pages. These are issued as a PDF, so it doesn’t really mimic the experience of taking the real exam.

How to pass the CDMP Exam

So, if the DMBoK is massive, boring and intimidating, the Authorised training courses are too expensive, and the Study Guides/CDMP test banks are poor quality, how do you get the CDMP Data Management Certification?

Our approach to this was as follows:

Sign up for the Data Management Fundamentals exam

Step One: pay the $311 for the Data Management Fundamentals exam. 

This has 2 main benefits:

  1. You’re committed. You’ve now spent $311 on top of the cost of the DMBoK, so you have more motivation to get certified
  2. You get access to the DAMA authorised CDMP Practice exam
By committing more money to getting your Data Management Certification, you increase your motivation to pass it. The downside to this is that students experience anxiety – the fear of failing the exam causes you to delay taking it “until you’re certain of passing”. 
To overcome this anxiety you need Step Two: leverage the CDMP Practice exam:
Leverage the CDMP Practice Exam

The CDMP Practice exam is your friend. It delivers you 40 questions over the course of 36 minutes, mimicking both the time constraint and the content of the real exam. 

Students can take the practice exam as many times as they like, and the course software tells you what the correct answer is (without context) alongside your score when you submit the quiz. 

DAMA states that there are 200 questions that the practice exam draws from randomly. This feels unlikely to us – we took the practice multiple times and the questions became very repetitive after about 10 attempts. We suspect you’ll be exposed to about 120 unique questions if you continuously take the practice exam.

As an alternative, you can take Cognopia’s free CDMP Fundamentals Practice Exam – a 40 question test of your DMBoK knowledge.

How to use the CDMP Practice Exam results

The Practice exam provides students with both their grade AND the correct answers, you can quickly see:

  1. Where your knowledge is weakest – which sections of the DMBoK are you strongest on and where are you weakest?
  2. What percentage score you achieve – if you’re languishing at the 40% level you need to put more work in than if you ace 80%+ on the first try
  3. You get the correct answer, which allows you to think through WHY this answer is correct and why the other alternatives are incorrect.

As a result, the student can learn both the correct answer AND the area of the DMBoK they need to focus their studies on. Spend more time reading the subject matter where you are weakest.

Limitations of this approach

There is a limitation to this approach – namely that the real exam does not use the same questions as the practice exam. 

Even if you knew 100% of the answers from the Practice Exam, you’d likely only see the same questions for 10% of the real exam.

In addition, if you are BRAND NEW to Data Management, it’s unlikely that you’d score a significant amount, so this would not help you prioritise your reading. A beginner level Data Governance course would be a better choice for those with zero experience so you can at least learn the basics.

Passing the Data Management Fundamentals Exam - Cognopia's Experience

For the real exam, you need to be prepared. As noted above, knowing all the answers to the Practice Exam questions might help you score 10% of the required total. Better than nothing, but not enough to get your Data Management Certification.

To get a high score, realise the exam tests several different layers of understanding:

  1. The “what” of data management – what do various terms mean? Much of this can be rote learned or answered by a simple CTRL+F search during the exam. This might get you to 30% of the score alone.
  2. The “why” of data management – why do you need to perform certain tasks, and why are the roles important to implement.
  3. The “how” of data management – often asking about the Activities, Techniques and Tools listed in the DMBoK. 

Taken together these probably get you to the 60-70% passing score. You can learn this relatively easily, and supplement your knowledge with searching the DMBoK during the exam (don’t worry, you have plenty of time).

To get up above the 80% grade you need practical experience and an ability to link the concepts together with example data issues. For example, you might be asked “what is the best example of the data quality dimension “consistency”?” – and then presented with a list of descriptions of datasets to choose from. This tests your knowledge of the what (what does data quality consistency mean?) but also forces you to understand what to look for in a dataset that suffers from poor consistency. Ensure you leave enough time to think through these answers if you want a top score.

One word of caution – the real CDMP Fundamentals exam has a broader set of topics that it tests you against than the Practice exam. In our experience, there were more questions on Data Architecture, Integration and Interoperability, and Data Security than we were exposed to in the Practice exam.

What is the real CDMP exam like?

The online, proctored exam gives you 90 minutes to answer 100 data management questions.

The questions are not “interleaved” as they are in the Practice exam (i.e. randomly jumbled up on different topics). Instead, the questions start with Data Management Process and then sequentially progress through the book chapters. This makes it slightly easier to know what area of the DMBoK you’re being tested on, and saves time navigating between sections of the book.

The online exam requires that you install “Honorlock” – a system designed to detect fraud and ensure students are not cheating. Here’s a video explaining what the Proctor sees on the other side (not DAMA related, but it gives context).

You have ample time to take the exam – the quickest we completed it in was 27 minutes. Focus your time on the topics that are asking to think through the implications of a data management issue, or to link together different sections of the DMBoK (e.g. how does data governance oversee data architecture?).

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What are the CDMP Specialist Exams?

To get the CDMP Practitioner, CDMP Master or CDMP Fellow level certification, you also need to pass two out of 7 “Specialist Exams“. Your choices are:

  • Data Modelling and Design
  • Metadata
  • Data Quality
  • Data Governance
  •  Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
  • Reference and Master Data Management
  • Data Integration and Interoperability
Each of these exams follows the same format as the Data Management Fundamentals exam – 100 multiple choice questions (five choices for each question). You have 90 minutes to complete the exam, and you need the Honorlock Chrome Extension on your machine. 
These exams take a deeper dive into the content of the major chapters of the DMBoK. There are no Practice Exams for this – instead you get access to the same generic Practice Exam that’s used for the Data Management Fundamentals exam preparation.

Cognopia's view on the Specialist Exams

The Specialist Exams are only required if you NEED to get the Practitioner or Master level CDMP Certification. They demonstrate that you have a deeper knowledge of the subject matter, but are employers specifically looking for you to have this level of qualification?

In our experience, most of the Job Descriptions have been drafted by HR professionals with limited understanding of the role they are hiring for. It is unlikely that these HR teams will be able to differentiate between a CDMP Associate and a CDMP Master, at least at the “CV sifting”  phase of the hiring process

Think carefully whether you need to spend the additional time and money to pass the Specialist Exams. What value will these add to your CV?

Is the CDMP worth it?

DAMA is an established brand and the DMBoK is well-regarded across industry. Many companies now demand Data Management Certification, and adding the letters “CDMP” to your CV will certainly keep you in the race for a job, even if they are not enough to get you the job on their own.

At the same time, you need to weigh up the costs of getting certified vs the CDMP Certification Value:

  • Can you commit enough time to learn the material? 
  • Can you commit enough money to get “bootcamp” style training if you need to get certified quickly?
  • Can you afford the examination and study material costs, or will your company fund them?
  • Do you have enough existing knowledge to quickly and cheaply pass the exam?

The “Capability Triangle” below is a good way to think through whether the CDMP is worth it to you or not. 

  1. If you lack the knowledge, you need to invest time and money to get it
  2. If you lack time, you need a baseline of knowledge and to spend more money on training to get up to speed quickly, and;
  3. If you lack money, you’ll need to develop the knowledge on your own, which will take more time

If you’re not willing or able to accept these tradeoffs and make these investments then no, the CDMP is not worth it for you.

Money, time or capability - you need to invest 2 of these to get the third
Unless you're willing to invest 2 of these three to unlock the third, CDMP certification is not for you

What is DCAM Certification?

DCAM stands for the Data Capability Assessment Model. It has been developed by members. of the EDM Council, and is pitched as “the industry standard framework for data management”. 

DCAM Certification is provided to those that take a DCAM training course and successfully pass the DCAM exam (with a score of 70% or more). 

One important thing to note is that DCAM Certification alone does not allow you to use the DCAM Framework in your company (or as a consultant). In order to actually use what you’ve learned and gain access to any of the templates, you have to join the EDM Council. At the time of writing the fees were between $2,750 and $37,500 USD per annum.

If you want to use the DCAM in your business, be prepared to pay EDM Council Membership fees ON TOP OF the training costs for your staff.

What is the DCAM Framework?

As you can see from this guide, there is not just one “industry standard framework for data management” (as the old joke goes, the great thing about standards is there are so many of them).

The EDM Council clearly pitches DCAM as “the industry standard”, but unless your organisation has already adopted DCAM, you can choose any data management framework you like. 

The DCAM Framework itself is composed of 8 components, 38 capabilities, 136 sub-capabilities with 488 different objectives. Sound confusing? Let’s dig in to each:

What are the 8 DCAM Components?

One major difference between the DMBoK Framework and the DCAM Framework is the structure of the content.

Whilst the DMBoK lays out the framework in the “DAMA Wheel”, the DCAM Framework follows a more practical sequence of steps in a more prescriptive manner. As such, the 8 DCAM Components build on one another and act as a kind of roadmap for Data Management Professionals to follow:

  1. Data Strategy and Business Case
  2. Data Management Program and Funding
  3. Business and Data Architecture
  4. Data and Technology Architecture
  5. Data Quality Management
  6. Data Governance
  7. the Data Control Environment, and;
  8. Analytics Management (added to v2.2 of the DCAM)

The image below shows how the DCAM Framework layers up from Foundational Capabilities through Execution, Collaboration and Analytics layers.

DCAM Framework Capabilities

How do you use the DCAM Framework?

DCAM would be most beneficial for anyone that is brand new to Data Management.

The DCAM Framework lays out a prescribed sequence of steps that you need to take when establishing a Data Management function. It also gives an indication of the data maturity level of your organisation, which is a function of how well you have adopted and evidenced the components, capabilities, sub-capabilities and objectives listed in their framework.

The EDM Council also suggest that DCAM can be applied to in-flight data management programs to review your progress and reset anything that may be going wrong. 

How do you get DCAM Certified?

Unlike the CDMP Certification, there is no “self service” option to get DCAM Certified. You must take one of their training courses and pass the exam, making DCAM Certification more expensive than CDMP Certification.

What options do you have for training? Read on:

Online DCAM Training via eLearningCurve

If you prefer online, self-service training that you can take at your own pace, the DCAM Certification track by eLearningCurve might be the right choice for you.

The course is 5 hours, 15 minutes long and walks you through each of the DCAM components, capabilities, sub-capabilities and objectives. 

The Exam is 25 questions, over 50 minutes, with a 70% passing grade required. Like other eLearningCurve exams, they use a mixture of:

  1. 1 point questions (recognition)
  2. 2 point questions (understanding), and;
  3. 3 point questions (application)

Some of the questions ask you to “select all that apply”, and you can get awarded partial points for a partially correct answer (e.g. if I select 2 out of the 3 correct answers, I still get awarded partial credit).

Cognopia's Review of the eLearningCurve DCAM Training

Unfortunately, this course did not live up to our expectations. It is 5 hours and 15 minutes long, which felt about 4 hours and 45 minutes longer than it needed to be.

The content itself was not useful to pass the exam. We would not expect anyone that uses the slide notes or who tolerated the lectures to actually score heavily – you do need prior experience in Data Management to know the answers (i.e. the training did not actually train you to pass).

The lectures felt like someone reading out the bullets from the slide, with little additional information, and given it was just a narrated slideshow the experience was boring and difficult to stay awake for.

The course cost was $1,250 USD – definitely not value for money in our experience.

Only take this course if you have prior DCAM experience and feel the need to evidence that with DCAM Certification on your CV.

Virtual DCAM Training via EDM Council Members

Another option for those seeking to get DCAM Accreditation is a virtual course

These courses are slightly more expensive (Member price: $1,370 USD, Non-member price: $1,825 USD), but have the advantage of being instructor-led. 

The attendees are free to take the exam via eLearningCurve in order to gain their badge.

Cognopia's Review of the virtual DCAM Training

Cognopia chose not to take this option, mainly because these are scheduled at specific times/dates and it may not be practical for you to attend on those dates (work commitments) or to wait that long to pass your course.

As part of our research, we did talk to many people that have attended the virtual training. The access you get to discuss what is being taught, to engage as a group about what you think the concepts mean, and to ask questions directly to the instructor were seen as positive by students.

If you must get DCAM Accreditation we would prioritise the virtual training option over the eLearningCurve material. 

DCAM vs DAMA DMBoK - what's best?

The DCAM Framework is structured in a more logical way than the DMBoK – whereas the DMBoK is more comprehensive and covers a broader swathe of Data Management capabilities.

DCAM Benefits

One of the major challenges of data management is knowing where to begin. DCAM helps provide structure and direction by prescribing a sequence of steps you need to take in order to improve data maturity in your firm.

In addition, the details provided in the Capabilities, Sub-Capabilities and Objectives would be helpful to those that have not experienced implementing an Enterprise-wide transformation program previously.

Many of the recommendations to allow you to evidence and audit your data management program are solid, and in our experience these skills are often lacking in Data Management Professionals.

DCAM Drawbacks

Based on the training we received it is hard to see how you could actually implement the DCAM Framework.

In order to gain access to or use the DCAM assessment tools you must pay the EDM Council membership fees. Based on the low quality of the training materials, we did not feel inclined to spend even more money to get access to tools that should really be provided in the training.

Simply knowing the sequence of steps to take and why they are important is not enough to know HOW to implement data management best practices in your firm. 

If DCAM Training is your only data management experience, it is hard to see how you could implement what you've been taught.

DMBoK Benefits

The DMBoK is a comprehensive book, with 624 pages of information about the components, activities, techniques and tools you need to use to manage data effectively.

At ~$70 USD, it’s remarkably cheap to access this information, and you can rely on the content for years to come as you deepen your data management program. 

The DMBoK probably has the greater claim to being “the Industry standard data management framework”, partly because it has been around longer than DCAM and has had more time to establish itself.

DMBoK Drawbacks

The DMBoK is a huge book, which is intimidating for many people. Understanding its contents requires more experience and a baseline level of knowledge, and serious study of this text is necessary if you want to pass the exam.

The DMBoK places less relevance on building a Data Strategy and Business Case than DCAM does. These are 2 critical areas often overlooked by data management professionals that drive increased data maturity.

Lastly, the subject areas covered in the DMBoK are not well linked together. Each subject is treated as a standalone chapter, when in many cases the subject areas overlap and interrelate with one another.

Many firms say "we'll adopt the DMBoK as our Data Management Framework". Unless you have trained, knowledgeable, experienced people to define the rollout plan, the DMBoK alone will not get you where you need to be.

DCAM Certification vs CDMP Certification - what's best?

CDMP Certification would be the “Gold Standard” as far as we are concerned at Cognopia.

Historically, DCAM Certification was provided to anyone that took the course (not just those that passed the exam). Given DCAM Certified resources cannot actually use the DCAM Framework unless they pay for EDM Council membership, it feels less practically beneficial.


A CDMP Certification demonstrates a deep understanding of the DMBoK as well as evidence the practitioner knows how to apply that understanding.

What is CIMP Certification

CIMP stands for “Certified Information Management Professional” and is provided by eLearningCurve.

Unlike the CDMP and DCAM certifications, the CIMP is not based on any specific data management framework. Instead, students can select from a range of different tracks, composed of different lessons that all lead to gaining the CIMP Data Management Certification. These are:

  1. Information Management Foundations
  2. Data Quality
  3. Data Governance
  4. Master Data Management
  5. Metadata Management
  6. Business Intelligence & Analytics
  7. Data Science

How do you qualify for the CIMP?

CIMP Certification requires that you take and pass 5 courses from the eLearningCurve Library.

Each course ends with a 25 question exam, taken over 50 minutes with a passing grade of 70%.

Like other eLearningCurve exams, they use a mixture of:

  1. 1 point questions (recognition)
  2. 2 point questions (understanding), and;
  3. 3 point questions (application)

Some of the questions ask you to “select all that apply”, and you can get awarded partial points for a partially correct answer (e.g. if I select 2 out of the 3 correct answers, I still get awarded partial credit).

Unlike the CDMP exam, you get 3 attempts to pass the CIMP Exams, with your highest score being taken as the final score. As such, you can use the first attempt as a “trial” exam if you wish.

What is CIMP Ex Certification?

CIMP Ex means you are a “Certified Information Management Professional” that has demonstrated:

  • Expertise – completing 8 rather than 5 courses and exams
  • Experience – with at least 5 years data management experience on your CV, and;
  • Excellence – passing the 8 exams with scores with an average of 75% of greater

It is the highest tier of CIMP certification.

CIMP Benefits

Compared to the CDMP and DCAM, the CIMP allows the student to select what they want to learn.

CIMP students choose 5-8 modules from the CIMP tracks available, allowing them to pick the knowledge areas they are most interested in or need to know now.

This flexibility allows you to customise your own training and learning agenda according to your strengths and weaknesses.

CIMP Drawbacks

The CIMP as a data management certification is just not as well known as the CDMP or DCAM designations. 

The content of the courses is comprehensive, but the delivery method is stale and boring – often using slides that belong in the 1990’s and lessons that last far too long to capture the student’s attention.

The exams can be tricky – sometimes asking questions to remember specific phrases that the instructor used in the lesson. The slides alone may not be enough for a student to score 70% or higher.

How does the CIMP compare to CDMP and DCAM?

There are not direct comparisons to draw, because the CIMP is more similar to a University education (where the student selects the subjects they want to learn) whereas the CDMP and DCAM are prescriptive – testing knowledge of that specific framework.


The CIMP Data Governance and Data Quality tracks rely on John Ladley and Tom Redman to teach. Both of these thought leaders have contributed to the DMBoK and the concepts used have a lot of overlap.

The Cognopia team were already CIMP or CIMP Ex qualified before we took the CDMP, and undoubtedly the knowledge from the CIMP helped pass the CDMP.

From a CV perspective, the CDMP wins hands-down. From a cost perspective, the CDMP could be substantially cheaper, as CIMP course costs range from $1,795 USD to $4,995 USD.

CIMP training would be best for Corporates that need to train individuals in specific skills, rather than those learning how to pass the CDMP as the principal outcome of the training.


Once again, the DCAM badge value for your CV is likely to be much greater than a CIMP or CIMP Ex. It is more widely known and asked for in job ads.

The DCAM teaches a specific framework, and as noted above, this is only really worth learning if you plan to join the EDM Council or if your firm is already a member. Otherwise, you won’t get to apply or use this framework.

The CIMP will teach a deeper set of skills that are not tied to further membership costs. Students can learn only what they need to learn and only what they are likely to use in their specific role.

The price of the training is broadly similar, and both courses are offered via the eLearningCurve platform.

Only choose the DCAM if you are working in a firm that is a DCAM member. Otherwise CIMP training is likely to be more practically beneficial for your team.

What other choices are there for Data Management Certification?

This guide has covered the three main “branded” Data Management Certification options.

Other providers (including Cognopia) offer bespoke training courses designed to fit your specific needs.

In many cases there is “too much content” to be practically beneficial to a student – there is simply not enough time or bandwidth to be able to implement everything in the DMBoK in your role this year. 

Learning how to prioritise tasks in your data management program is an essential skill. The foundational layer of the DCAM demands that you create a data management strategy and that you develop the data management business case, but it does not teach you how to do those things.


What value does Data Management Certification bring?

Given the expense and investment of both time and money, you might wonder “is it worth it for me to get certified?”. The answer is context dependent, and in working with our students we see a few clear points when the answer is an unequivocal “Yes”, and a few where “it depends”.

Definitely get certified if the following statements are true for you:

● You are between jobs and you find yourself failing to get through to the next round of interviews

● You are frustrated in your current job because your business peers won’t listen to you, and you need the credibility of a certificate and “Industry Best Practice” to back you up

● You’re bored and underutilised in your current role, and you need help to “step up” and take on the next challenge at a more senior level

● You have hands-on experience in a few of the DMBoK knowledge areas and need to gain theoretical understanding of the others to help you perform your next role

● You want to step up into a Consulting role (or you’re currently consulting in Data Management) and your clients keep asking “is your methodology based on the {DAMA/DCAM/CIMP} framework?

Be aware that it costs time as well as money to gain certification – hence you will need to find time in your calendar away from work and family commitments to clear the exams. As a result, pick a course or certification that is as engaging as possible and gives you the best chance of succeeding on your first attempt.

Real-world CDMP Student Experience:

Here are some real-world students sharing their experience of the value Data Management Certification brought them. Perhaps their story can inspire you in your career:

Mushir wanted to step up into a new Data Management role, but kept missing out on the job at the last moment to more qualified candidates. He spent 2 weeks of dedicated study to clear the CDMP at the Practitioner Level (75%).

Harin was comfortable in his role, but decided to step up and demonstrate his initiative by tackling the CDMP Fundamentals Exam. He put the work in across two weeks and cleared the exam with a monumental 82% on the first attempt.

What next?

If you’re sick of struggling through the DMBoK then our course is for you. We make it quick, easy and fun to clear the CDMP so you can get a better job and make more money.

Our CDMP Fundamentals Academy uses the “Flipped Mastery” teaching method to get you the grade you pay us for, fast. The process works:

● Average CDMP Score: 81.9%

● Highest CDMP Score: 97%

● Quickest time to pass: 2 weeks

If you need guidance on how to pass the CDMP, how to unlock value from your data management program and how to become a more effective data management professional, get in touch with our experts for a free discovery conversation using the form below:

Want to become a more effective data management professional? Talk to Cognopia:


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