April 19, 2024

Power BI Certifications in 2024 – Is it Worth it? How to Get Certified?

If you’re an aspiring business analyst, you probably already know that Power BI skills are highly in demand. So how can you prove to potential employers that you actually have those skills? How can you stand out from the crowd when apploying for a job? Is getting a Power BI certification worth it?

Adding a Power BI certificate to your resume is one way you can try to prove you’ve got the necessary skills. But what does a certificate mean to a potential employer? Can it actually help you get a job? Well...

That depends on the certification.

A person examining a certificate with a magnifying glass, symbolizing scrutiny and deciding if the Microsoft power bi certification is worth it

What certifications mean, and what they don’t

Here at Dataquest, we’ve written a lot about certifications and how they often don’t have the impact that learners hope they will. But there are some tools where a specific certification matters, and Power BI is one of them.

Let’s get into the details on this. But first, let's differentiate between online course certifications and industry-recognized certifications.

Online course certifications

These certificates can be nice to share on LinkedIn, but they don’t really mean anything to employers. There are simply too many of them out there―every online learning platform has their own. This means employers have no easy way to verify what you know just because you have a random online course certification.

For example, you can easily get a certificate that says you’ve completed a Python coding course from many online learning platforms―some will even issue them even without having to write a single line of code! To be fair to these learning platforms, assessing learners with multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions is much easier to scale compared to running and assessing each individual’s code.

Are Power BI certifications from courses pointless?

All that said, it doesn’t mean that all online courses that offer certificates can't be of value to you. But it’s important to realize that for the vast majority of them, your value will come from the skills you pick up, not the certificate they give you at the end. Even a certificate associated with a famous university like Harvard or MIT won't mean much to potential employers.

In short: online courses may be helpful, but their certificates are pretty useless. Employers can't use them to assess your actual knowledge or skills, so they don't respect them.

Industry-recognized certifications

For specific tools, there are industry-recognized certifications that employers do respect. These certifications typically require you to pass a lengthy, standardized exam, and they generally don’t require you to complete any specific online course. Rather, anyone can sign up, pay a fee, take the exam, and (if they pass) get certified.

For example, there's one for Power BI that you can get. The certification is issued by Microsoft, the makers of Power BI. To earn it, you must pass a 90-minute test called the PL-300 exam. The Microsoft Power BI certification PL-300 exam costs $165 (although there’s a way you can take it for less; we’ll cover that later in this article).

When name recognition matters

Unlike the certifications associated with most online courses, Microsoft’s Power BI certification is recognized and respected by employers because they trust that the PL-300 exam is rigorous and standardized, accurately testing your actual competence with Power BI.

So, while many online course certifications aren’t worth your time, Microsoft’s Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification is meaningful because employers know it means you have passed the industry-recognized PL-300 exam.

Do you need a Power BI certification?

You don’t need a certification to get a job working with Power BI, but having one can definitely help open some doors.

What employers truly care about is whether you have the skills to do the job. And you can prove this in a variety of ways. Often, a great-looking portfolio of relevant business analysis projects is the most convincing proof that you’re capable of doing the work an employer needs done.

However, many companies still assess job candidates by looking at their resumes. Whether assessed by a human or a machine, many applications will be tossed out based on the resume alone without even glancing at the portfolio.

Add a Power BI certificate to your resume

One way to combat this is by having an industry-recognized certification like Microsoft’s Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification on your resume. Most employers in the business analysis field are familiar with the certification and the demands of the PL-300 exam required to get it. Being able to put that Power BI certificate on your resume gives them some quick evidence that you really do have the skills they need.

There are other ways to impress employers on a resume, of course, and it’s absolutely possible to get a job as a business analyst using Power BI without getting certified. However, having the certification is helpful in this case, so it’s definitely worth considering.

What’s the best Power BI certification?

Microsoft’s Power BI Data Analyst Associate certification is the best Power BI certification for aspiring data and business analysts. Unlike certificates from online platforms like EdX or Coursera, the industry recognizes this Power BI certification as a meaningful indicator of skill because it requires a formal exam (the PL-300).

Other online programs that offer certificates may still be valuable in terms of what they can teach you, but in terms of the brand name on the resume, Microsoft’s Power BI certification is really the only one that matters.

What does the PL-300 exam cover?

Microsoft’s PL-300 exam is available in various languages. According to Microsoft’s official study guide for the PL-300 exam, here’s what the English-language version covers as of April 23, 2024:

Preparing the data (25–30%)

This section will test your ability to import, evaluate, clean, and transform data in Power BI. Among other things, you will need to be able to:

  1. Get data from data sources
    • Identify and connect to a data source
    • Choose between DirectQuery, Import, and Dual mode
  2. Clean the data
    • Evaluate data, including data statistics and column properties
    • Resolve inconsistencies, unexpected or null values, and data quality issues
  3. Transform and load the data
    • Select appropriate column data types
    • Merge and append queries
    • Identify and create appropriate keys for relationships

Modeling the data (25–30%)

This section tests your knowledge of how to work with and optimize data models. Among other things, you will need to be able to:

  1. Design and implement a data model
    • Configure table and column properties
    • Define a relationship's cardinality and cross-filter direction
  2. Create model calculations by using DAX
    • Create single aggregation measures
    • Identify implicit measures and replace with explicit measures
    • Create calculated tables
  3. Optimize model performance
    • Identify poorly performing measures, relationships, and visuals by using Performance Analyzer
    • Improve performance by choosing optimal data types

Visualizing and analyzing the data (25–30%)

This section will test your ability to create visualizations using your data model to uncover meaningful business insights. Among other things, you will need to be able to:

  1. Create reports
    • Format and configure visualizations
    • Apply slicing and filtering
  2. Enhance reports for usability and storytelling
    • Create custom tooltips
    • Group and layer visuals by using the Selection pane
    • Design reports for mobile devices
  3. Identify patterns and trends
    • Use AI visuals
    • Detect outliers and anomalies

Deploying and maintaining assets (15–20%)

This section tests your knowledge of how to turn your Power BI reports into sharable analytics assets that your company can use. Among other things, you will need to be able to:

  1. Create and manage workspaces and items
    • Configure and update a workspace app
    • Create dashboards
    • Apply sensitivity labels to workspace content
  2. Manage semantic models
    • Identify when a gateway is required
    • Provide access to semantic models

Altogether, the PL-300 exam assesses your ability to complete an end-to-end data analysis project using Power BI. It won’t be enough just to know the basics; Microsoft also notes that:

Candidates for this exam should be proficient at using Power Query and writing expressions by using Data Analysis Expressions (DAX). You know how to assess data quality. Plus, you understand data security, including row-level security and data sensitivity.

In short: the PL-300 exam is a thorough examination of your Power BI skills. That’s why it’s a certification that’s actually respected by potential employers.

How to prepare for the PL-300 exam

There are many online resources that can help you prepare for the Power BI certification exam for free, but they tend to be video-based lecture courses that won’t force you to get hands-on and actually do things in Power BI. You might learn how to answer questions, but you won’t be getting useful experience by completing a Power BI project from start to end.

The best way to prepare for the PL-300 exam is to learn and practice Power BI skills by actually doing Power BI projects. That way, you’ll have an easier time on the exam, and when you’re certified you’ll already have a portfolio of projects ready to go that reinforce your Power BI skills.

Dataquest’s interactive Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI Skill Path, designed in partnership with Microsoft, is built to help you do exactly that. It’s designed to show you how to analyze and visualize data using Microsoft Power BI by actually getting you hands-on with Power BI right in your browser.

How to save 50% on the PL-300 exam

When you complete all of the Power BI training courses in the Dataquest Power BI skill path, you’ll get a 50% discount on your Microsoft Power BI certification PL-300 exam.

As you work through the courses, you’ll also complete guided projects that can be used as portfolio projects on your job applications. Before you’re done, you’ll have completed an end-to-end project that covers most of the same skills tested on the PL-300 exam.

Ready to change careers—or start a new one? Check out this user-friendly learning path, and get ready for a new world of career opportunities to open up when you earn your Power BI certificate!


About the author


Dataquest teaches through challenging exercises and projects instead of video lectures. It's the most effective way to learn the skills you need to build your data career.