Datacamp is one of the dozens of online course platforms claiming eleven million users and boasts of working with companies like eBay or Microsoft. Actually, their advertisements aren’t any different from dozens of other platforms, like Udemy, Coursera or Prometheus, just more narrowed down to the technical side. Datacamp offers to fill the gap in any data-driven skills and teaches you to apply these skills to real-world problems.
Of course, I didn’t expect to get an instant offer from Google, but as a junior and aspiring software engineer, I decided to give it a try. Here is what I learned on Datacamp and also something I learned about Datacamp.
Datacamp mainly focuses on several things: databases, Python, R, and various data visualization tools. I was interested in tuning my SQL skills, and, I must admit, they have a decent choice, from baby steps in the “introduction” series to specific problem-solving in the Advanced section.
The complete list of technologies Datacamp offers courses about (as of January 2023) is: Python, R, SQL, Power Bi, Spreadsheets, Tableau, Shell, Git, Excel, Julia, and Scala. There are more than 400 courses, four hours on average, ranging from funny and lighthearted (like “Data manipulation using pandas” – it was Python, not my current field of interest, but I couldn’t resist) to extremely, extremely complicated (like “Advanced Deep Learning with Keras” – machine learning just sounded cool, so I gave it a try), to very specific and even not code-based, like “Data-driven decision making for the business.” There is also a vast “Other” category that I didn’t explore very well, but it might be helpful for biologists because there are some tools for RNA sequencing.
The courses are neatly organized in three ways: the level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), the technology, and the topic (case studies, machine learning, data manipulation, finances, etc.). Still not super easy to browse through, but if you know what you are searching for, it becomes easier. Datacamp has some troubles with courses that touch adjacent fields – you may look for them in one place while they are sitting right in the next category. So I’d advise you to Google whatever you need to learn first and then try the proper name in the internal search. Otherwise, you’d have to read through a dozen of pages.
Besides that flaw, all three courses I’ve looked through so far seemed pretty good. But to dive deeper, you (of course) have to pay. And the payment is the next topic I’m going to tell you about.
The main page of Datacamp greets you with a big discount bar with “Limited Time Offer, XX days left!” Looks like quite a cheap trick, to be honest. Especially with the slogan “Zero to Job Ready.” Looking at what they want me to buy, I found that the discounted yearly premium access now costs 79 Euros instead of 149 Euros on your average Tuesday. The team access now costs 276 Euros per two users, and each additional user will also cost you 276 Euros. The trick is that to renew the annual pass, you still have to pay 276 Euros per person (without a 50% discount for the first user).
Datacamp has four monthly plans: Free, Premium, Teams, and Enterprise. The free plan allows you access to the first chapter of each course, six free courses, a job board, and job profile access, but no certificates to boast in your LinkedIn. To get proof of your knowledge, you must upgrade to Premium (the unlimited access we talked about earlier) for 5.68 Euros per month (instead of the usual 11 Euros). The Teams plan allows the team leader to track the team’s progress and manage members’ courses. Also, there is a free Team plan for educators, but there are strict requirements for those who want to get it. The Enterprise plan is the most expensive one (probably, the price is not specified), tailor-made for big teams or non-standard queries.
Datacamp Free VS Paid
If you just need more skills to complete your test task – you’re good to go with the free plan. But if you aim for a job that starts from the HR department, not a technical interview, it’s better to purchase the Premium plan and attach your certificates to your CV. Keep in mind that Datacamp doesn’t provide accredited certificates, so if you need something very specific, you might probably want to look elsewhere. Also paid plan may come in handy if you’re going to have a whole course, from the very basics to nuances. You won’t squeeze this goal into six free courses.
As I mentioned, the Datacamp certificates aren’t accredited, so you should thoroughly check if they are worth anything for your desired job. The good news, though, is that most Datacamp certificates are recognized by data analysts. Especially if you are finishing a string of courses, from easier to harder ones, at least they see that you have enough determination and know your direction.
Datacamp certificates look like pictures and may be added manually to your Linkedin or any other online service. The HR department can easily check if they are valid, so don’t even try to do what you probably might just think.
The community is one of the things Datacamp boasts the most. Maybe, it’s just me, but I’m not impressed. Of course, there are lots of people and topics to discuss, but considering the variety of courses and issues, it quickly becomes messy. I understand that it’s probably hard to moderate such a stampede of people with their opinion, but it’s easier for me to Google the answer to my question elsewhere.
A helpful feature is the Datacamp job board. I didn’t have any luck with it, but I saw people who did. Probably it’s efficient to grow specialists to hunt them right away at newbie rates.
I know that the interface is important for many people, but it was just average for me. I didn’t have any difficulties navigating the course, but I also didn’t notice anything special. If you love all this gamified stuff with bells and whistles, you may find the Datacamp interface quite bland. It is mostly your old and faithful online learning portal similar to the one you had (or have) in your college. You get used to it almost instantly and have no trouble using it.
Will Datacamp help me get a job?
Yes and no. Don’t believe these beautiful ads about “zero to job ready” and “job board”. They are about opportunities, not about guarantees. Though Datacamp is a good tool to increase your chances and add credibility to your CV (and, first and foremost, give you the knowledge you need to apply), no one is bothered with finding you a job. I’d say it’s 30% Datacamp courses, 20% your luck on the job board, and 50% your persistent effort.
I shall admit that recruitment managers pay attention to Datacamp certificates, which might really increase your chances of getting hired. Probably, because they are valued in the community, probably they are just bright and appealing to the HR department.
My experience with Datacamp
I’ve started the SQL course line, skipping the first one (Introduction to SQL). The Intermediate SQL didn’t tell me much I hadn’t known yet, but it was useful to refresh the material. I skipped some specific courses like Joining Data in SQL or Reporting in SQL (probably, I’d return to them if neither my textbook nor Stackoverflow couldn’t help me with it) and jumped right into global issues, such as Database Design and Applying SQL to the Real World Program. I’m also studying PostgreSQL-related courses now.
As you can see, it’s more than six courses, and also I decided that I need certificates, so I bought a monthly subscription. I was very optimistic, hoping to end it all in a month. It’s the fourth month and counting, and I’m still into learning. Don’t know if it’s highly addictive or if I still feel underqualified for my current job.
About the job: I didn’t find anything on the Datacamp job board; I even tried to apply to Datacamp itself (to no avail, obviously). But my LinkedIn search worked, and when I asked the HR manager if the certificates played any role, she said yes, they did. At least I got noticed.
But the primary use of these courses was my test task. Either its authors read the same course, or Datacamp course makers knew the popular tricky questions, but I got lucky enough to have a similar task I’d solved during my learning. Anyway, I have a job now.
Is Datacamp worth it?
You should clearly understand what exactly you want to get. If you need a premium subscription (due to the certificates’ availability or the number of your courses), each month becomes an investment. You can’t just lazily browse through the courses with a Free account. If you are determined enough to study regularly, you may reach substantial progress in a few months, which makes Datacamp courses a highly effective investment.
But if you aren’t sure or just want to try different directions to understand which field is more suitable for you, it’s better just to slouch around, reading the first chapters, trying this and that until you run out of your free courses.
Another thing you should remember is that no one guarantees you a job. Datacamp indeed provides some extra possibilities to find it, but it probably won’t be your dream job. Also, most of the rates are trainee or junior rates because no one is going to pay you more after you have just finished the courses. If you are just starting your way and it works for you, the job board may be a great place to have a good search or to advertise your new skills. But if you are already a professional who wants to acquire some additional skills, it makes more sense to try yourself on LinkedIn or in whatever professional community you are in.