Thanks to the wonderful age of the Internet, the trip to technical certification has become a much easier road to travel. But it can also leave you wondering… “Where do I begin?”
Making a determination as to what certification(s) best suits your needs and professional goals is the first step in your journey down the certification road. Determining what is involved in each test is your next. Talk to others who are already certified and do some online research of your own. The plethora of information you find will aid in your decision making process.
To get a better feel for which certification might be right for you, ask yourself these questions:
What are my long-term career goals?
How do my current skills compare to current certifications?
What area of IT seems the most interesting to me?
What certifications are available in my area of interest?
What is the market demand for certifications I am interested in?
How do others who are certified in my preference, view the value of their certification?
Companies such as Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco offer various instructor led and self-paced study courses. However, many smaller businesses offer training as well. The Internet can prove to be a very useful resource when it comes to locating training and testing centers. Some of these sites offer free study guides as well! So, before signing up for a full-fledged computer course, take advantage of what the net has to offer. A great resource to check out is http://www.intelinfo.com/cat6.html. The information you find on this page will astound you!
Training online vs. offline is a personal choice. Many companies offer both options.
“The most productive way to go is definitely the instructor-led training.” says Eric Garcia, an Account Executive with New Horizons Learning Center in Tempe, AZ. “Having the instructor right there with you will assure you are getting the most benefit out of the classes. The instructors keep you motivated and guide you through any tough spots you might encounter.”
On the other hand, Eric also mentioned that he is not technically inclined, and would probably have some trouble with maneuvering through online training.
“Online training is definitely the way to go.” counters Mike Pembleton, a Business Development Specialist with Career Blazers in Buffalo, NY. “If you’re persistent, you’ll do great. It gives you a lot of freedom with time and with the work involved. It all depends on how focused you are to actually sit there and make yourself do the work.”
Online training is the preferred choice for many users. Per Scott Harron, a Network Technology Coordinator and Instructor with the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, “A lot of people get bored with the classroom training. They would rather do the training on their own time. Not that the instructors are boring,” he laughs, “but being able to skip what they already know has definite advantages.”
For many individuals with an understanding of computer jargon, it’s a great “study at your own pace” method that allows the student to skip what they already know and delve into what they don’t.
Several hours of online research have shown the market for online training to be booming, and this training method can be done from the comforts of your home, with access to instructors and technical support via e-mail.
So, to sum it up: Online training gives you the freedom of learning at your own leisure, while classroom training provides an instructor who is physically there to guide you as you go. The choice is yours.
The length and prices of these training courses varies depending on the certification(s) you are looking to achieve.
For instance, with some of the certifications, such as MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist), you can expect the training to include around 8 hours of class time per individual course, with an average training fee of $200 and an exam fee of $60. However, with more advanced certifications, such as MCNE (Master Certified Novell Engineer), you can expect to put in a couple of years for training and study time with an average training fee of a few thousand dollars, and exam fees of around $100 each, but multiple exams are required for this certification. As with anything in life, the more you wish to gain, the more you can expect to pay.
With the price range for the exams ranging between sixty and a few hundred dollars, a good rule of thumb might be to take some practice exams to see if you are prepared to take the actual test before shelling out the exam fees. If you don’t happen to reach the 70% passing score that is required of each test, you’ll need to fork up the money to take the test again.
We’ve come a long way in the last 20 years with respect to computers and certifications, and the road ahead looks just as promising.
Good luck on your journey down the technical certification highway!