Getting a new IT certification can really help your career and open your options up to include many higher paying jobs. For example, a report earlier this year from the Linux Foundation indicated that eighty percent of IT companies that use Linux are making hiring Linux-certified professionals a priority over the next few years. Not only is the certification in demand, nearly one third of the companies polled were offering above-normal pay to attract employees with Linux training.
Depending on the certification you're interested in, there are many ways to get training and be prepared to take the necessary exams. Many technical schools offer training programs, and many companies offer IT-certification training online.
If attending an actual course doesn't fit into your schedule, there is always the option of studying on your own by using a training guide book. However you decide to train, the most important thing is to pick an option that works best for you. If you know that you tend to procrastinate and that you have trouble focusing, then an actual course with deadlines might be your best choice. If you learn more rapidly when you can work at your own pace, a training book could be all you need.
Another reason that many professionals choose not to further their education is cost. Although many employers have tuition-reimbursement programs, advanced training course can be pretty costly. Even if you opted to study on your own, professional certification books are also expensive - buying the wrong one can be a mistake that sets you back a few hundred dollars.
That being said, you can prepare for an exam for free online. Although the courses may be limited or give only the general information, a free IT-certification course is a great way to get started. If you find that you need more intensive training, you can then make a decision that is going to work best for your particular needs. Of course, you'll still need to pay for and take an exam, but these courses can be a big help.
Here are just a few of the free IT certification preparation courses that are available for free:
ProProfs.com - This site offers several free IT-certification training programs. They have programs for Cisco, Microsoft Certification, Linux and many others. The courses include study guides, practice questions and basic information about where and how you can sit for a test.
ProfessorMesser - This site sells certification courses, but most of the courses are available on their website for free. Although they don't provide a portable copy or a book, the video courses available cover a wide variety of entry level IT certifications. For example, they have A+, Network + and Security + as well as Microsoft exams.
W3Schools - You may already use this site as it is a great reference if you need a refresher or can't remember a certain HTML tag. It's run by the World Wide Web Consortium and offers training like HTML, CSS, XML, PHP and more.
SearchSecurity - This website offers course training for the CISSIP and ISC exams. With the growing demand for experts in the area of data security, these certifications can mean more money and better job options. The training here covers all ten areas of the CISSIP exam.
INE - Although this site offers intensive paid training courses, they also have a free section on their website that provides free Cisco Certified Internetwork exams. In addition to course materials, they also offer a forum for connecting with other students and a wide selection of video seminars (vSeminars) focus on specific sections of the test.
Your Local Library - If you just want to get a quick review or you prefer to study on your own, look for training books at your local library. Although you might not realize it, most libraries can order books for you from other libraries. This means that virtually any study guide you need can be checked out for free. Although you'll probably want to buy a copy at some point, checking the books out allows you to look through them and see if they are going to work for you before investing your money.
Getting the right IT-certification preparation doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Before you decide to invest in a course, do some research and consider all of your options.
Have you recently gotten a new certification? Did you attend a technical college or study on your own? Please share your thoughts in the comments.