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NSA includes Coursera Data Science Certificates as Acceptable Credential

A recent Reddit thread revealed that the NSA is now accepting applications for Data Scientists whom completed certifications from online learning platforms Coursera & Cloudera. Sort of.

“Completion of a data science certificate program (online or other) may replace 1 year of relevant experience. Some examples of data science certificate programs include those offered by Cloudera, Coursera, Indiana University-Bloomington, and University of California-Irvine.” 

According to the job posting, without a Bachelor’s Degree applicants must still have three years experience, one year with an Associate’s Degree. The laundry list of competencies which includes data mining, artificial intelligence, informatics and machine learning, certainly indicate these positions are outside the grasp of the average candidate. What’s important to note though, is the fact the NSA seems to have beaten out the majority of the tech industry with their outright acceptance of alternative learning and certifications. Is the intelligence agency proving that they are more progressive? Or is this simply a sign of the post-Snowden times where like with the FBI, it is becoming harder to find qualified applicants? This will certainly become a hotly debated topic as the MOOC credential picks up traction and continues to gain in popularity.