Time and time again (usually during a happy hour), the common question comes up "Is it worth it to get my RCA?" Some people want me to say "No!" to validate their reasons for putting it off, but I won't do that here. For those who are debating on whether or not to take the RCA exam, keep reading.
Per the Relativity website, "The Relativity Certified Administrator (RCA) program ensures that case administrators fully understand Relativity’s capabilities, allowing you to maximize the software’s flexibility and provide an intuitive interface for end users."
The RCA exam is difficult. Let’s start by stating the obvious, the Relativity Certified Administrator (RCA) exam is nothing to sneeze at. Even if you are a Relativity ninja, I guarantee that you will need to spend several hours of studying in order to pass. Most likely you will need to do your exam prep on your own time, and even after all the coffee, sweat, and tears you spend studying, you will still need to score at least an 80% to pass. The 80% passing requirement seems a little ludicrous to me, as years of organized education taught me that 65% was passing, but hey, their test, their rules. Fortunately, there is a myriad of study materials on the Relativity website.
When faced with a difficult decision, I like to draft a pros and cons list. I took the RCA exam back in 2015, but if I were to take it again, this would be my list:
Skill level matters: If you use Relativity in an administrative capacity everyday, you are already in good shape for taking the exam. If you have NEVER used Relativity as an administrator, then you will need to invest a considerable amount of time in preparation to pass the exam. I am less inclined to recommend taking the exam outright if you fall into the latter category.
Years of experience vs. RCA: You can most certainly land a Relativity Admin job based on years of experience alone, however, several jobs “require” that you have it, and it is not expired. This is especially true for government and government contract roles where “RCA” is explicitly written into contracts as a candidate requirement for certain job titles. Even if you aren’t applying to a government contract role requiring an RCA, more and more companies are explicitly seeking RCA candidates to fill their eDiscovery roles. Think about it this way, if you are applying for a role and have a stellar resume (sans RCA) and you are up against someone else with a stellar resume plus an RCA, who will get picked? All else equal, the person with the RCA will be selected for the role. Additionally, firms advertise how many employees have their RCA as a marketing technique to attract clients.
While this may not sound “fair” to those who are Relativity-savvy admins without an RCA, it comes down to the fact that people like things they can measure, and certifications are one of them.
Platform-dependence: Unlike other certifications, the RCA is only relevant if you are actually using Relativity in some capacity. If you are applying for a role at a company that doesn't use Relativity and has no intention to use it, then the RCA is basically moot from a practical standpoint. Likewise, if/when Relativity ever sunsets to Concordance, your cert won't hold much value.
If I haven’t completely scared you away from taking the RCA exam (I hope not!), then here are some quick experience tips that you won't find listed on the Relativity site:
I hope this helped you make the decision that is best for you and your eDiscovery career. I look forward to writing more posts like this.
Peace, love, and eDiscovery