IT certifications can help you gain an understanding of a tech topic and
express your expertise to employers and colleagues. This is especially true when
you're new to the IT world.
However, there's no doubt that
their value is controversial. Many say they aren't worth the money and time because they won't help you get or keep a job, while some say the opposite.
Either way, you can use exam guidelines and their study materials to guide you through
learning about a new topic. In other words, even if the certification
certificate won't get you on the top of the prospect list, you will still have
more knowledge on the subject.
Given the doubt surrounding the value of certifications, coupled with a
tightening personal budget, you might choose not to go forward with them.
However, even with financial troubles, you may still be able to afford studying for IT certifications. You might not be able take in-person training courses for
hundreds or thousands of dollars, but there are many other resources out
there. That's what we are going to discuss. We'll review some places you can
find affordable or free resources.
Finding good studying resources
As promised, here are several money-saving ideas to consider when studying for
your tech certifications:
- Join the IEEE Computer Society: This is one of my favorite
resources. Right now, students can join the
Computer Society and
IEEE for $28, for a half year, and non-students can join the society only for a half
year at $49. This gives you free access to a conglomerate of study resources
and networking outlets. You'll have access to 3,000 distance-learning course
modules, where your favorite certifications will probably be included.
Course subjects range from Cisco to Java to project management. You also
have access to 600 selections from Safari Books Online, Essential Tech, and
Business Library. Plus you are given access to 500 books through their
e-Learning Campus, provided by Element K. You'll also get discounts on
select conferences and be able to participate on committees. Lastly, you get
a branded e-mail alias. Instead of listing a Gmail or hotmail address on
your resume, you can put email@example.com.
This could be the sole resource you'll need to study for many
certifications. You'll have video or presentation based courses you can do
at your own pace and books for reference. All this for a fraction of what
you could pay to get one distance-learning course from other online training
organizations, let alone the hundreds or thousands for live workshops.
Another example: you could buy one thick study guide from Amazon or purchase
6-months to a year of access to a entire library of books and training
courses for the same cost; which would you prefer?
- Join the Association for Computing Machinery: This is similar to the IEEE
Computer Society and is another favorite resource of mine. Students can
become members for as little $19, for an entire year. Professional
membership starts at $99, also for a year. All individual members receive
full access to over 2,500 online computing and business courses, in multiple
languages, and 1,000 virtual labs provided by Element K. Also like
the IEEE Computer Society, ACM gives you access to 600 selections from
Safari Books Online. The ACM Online Books Program also includes an
additional collection of 500 online books from Books24x7. Lastly, ACM offers
the usual networking benefits if you participate in local chapters and
groups, subscriptions to newsletters, and a free email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org,
with Google's Postini spam filtering.
- Check out the ol' library: Don't forget about your local library.
They might not have every technical book, but you should be able to find
study guides for the most popular certifications, that you can borrow totally
free. Before you make the trip downtown, you can Google for their site and
may be able to search availability online. You might not even have to leave
the house if they offer digital collections online. For example, my library
is a partner in the
Mid-Ohio Library Digital Initiative.
From that website I can download eBooks, Audiobooks, Videos/eFlicks, and
Music. Your library might offer something similar.
- Browse the Internet.com family (the site youre reading): Don't forget about us!
Internet.com has many sites where you
can read up on IT-related news, read articles explaining the technical
jargon, and step through tutorials on performing tasks and projects. For a
full listing of the Internet.com sites, see the