Top 10 Free IT Certification Training ResourcesGetting an IT cert can be an expensive proposition. These websites can help you prepare for your exam without emptying your bank account.
Cybrary takes the open source concept and applies it to IT training. Many of the courses available through the site are related to security, but there are also courses designed to prepare you for popular IT certification tests, including CompTIA A+, Cisco CCNA, CISM, PMP, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate and many others. The courses are self-paced, and the website offers an estimation of how long each will take. The site also offers its own skill certification exams; however, these are not as widely recognized in the industry as some of the other certs available.
2. Microsoft Virtual Academy
Microsoft certifications are among the most popular in the industry, and unlike most other cert vendors, the company offers hundreds of free training courses through Microsoft Virtual Academy. Some of the most popular courses available are "C# Fundamentals for Absolute Beginners," "Using Node.js with Visual Studio Code," "Mastering Microsoft Certification Exam Prep," "Building Blocks: Internet of Things (IoT)," "Introduction to ASP.NET Core 1.0" and "Microsoft Azure Fundamentals." The course library is easy to search, and those who sign up on the site also get access to live events, free e-books, discounts on Microsoft Press books and more.
3. Hire Our Heroes
If you're a veteran of the U.S. military, you can get access to free training through Hire Our Heroes. The program aims to ease the transition from military to civilian life by providing veterans leaving the armed services with training, mentorship and job opportunities. Currently, interested veterans can get free cybersecurity training through the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE), Certified Storage Associate (NCSA) training from NetApp, CyberTalent Immersion Academy training from SANS Institute, VetForce training for Salesforce certification, Certified SAP Associate training through NS2 and free CAD training through the United States Technical Education Center (USTEC).
4. Professor Messer
If you are a visual learner, you might want to check out Professor Messer. The site features an extensive library of free training videos meant to prepare viewers for the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and Microsoft 70-680 (configuring Windows 7) certifications. The site includes a popular discussion forum for people who are pursuing certification, and Professor Messer also organizes study groups. In addition, you can sign up for free pop-quiz emails. All the videos are completely free if you watch them online, but you can pay to download high-definition versions if you like.
One of the best sources of information about certifications is other IT professionals who have taken the certification exams, and that's where CertForums comes in. It hosts many boards with thousands of discussions and tens of thousands of messages, including some that are specific to particular IT certifications, including Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, VMware and others. It also has some news about certifications (although it isn't updated very frequently) and some general information about why you might want to pursue an IT cert. Membership and participation in the forums is completely free; the site is supported by advertising.
Before you take an IT certification exam, it's a good idea to try out a practice test. Knowledge Buster has free online practice exams for certification vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, PMI, EC-Council, (ISC)2, LPI, VMware, Oracle, ITIL and aaaa. You can take as many of the exams as you like for free, and you'll get immediate feedback on your results. If you become a member by providing your email address and phone number, you can also get discounts or free access to other training materials. The site has a very large library of practice exams, and you don't have to register to try them out.
Another source for practice tests is 4Tests. Unlike most of the other sites in this slideshow, 4Tests also has materials related to tests other than IT certifications, such as the GED, ASVAB, ACT and SAT. As far as IT certifications go, it has practice exams for Microsoft, CompTIA, Java programming, Cisco and Oracle exams. It also has some tutorials available (although most of them are not related to IT certs), as well as a forum where you may be able to find some helpful discussion threads. The site makes its money by providing links where you can buy other study materials off Amazon.
If you are a low-income high school graduate who is at least 18 and a U.S. citizen, IT-Ready can help you get free training for the CompTIA A+ exam. This is an in-person training program, so you'll need to live near Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Omaha, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC, in order to participate. It's an eight-week program that leads to a six-month job experience. Alumni can also get free training and free exam vouchers for additional CompTIA certifications. It's a narrow, targeted program, but if you qualify, it could lead to excellent job opportunities.
For those interested in the popular CompTIA exams, ExamCompass is a great free resource for practice tests. For the CompTIA A+ exam, for example, it has twenty different online tests with free score reports, as well as deep dives into subject areas like RAM, storage, CPU, display devices, printers, networking, acronyms and hardware troubleshooting. The website also explains the (complicated) process for getting a voucher that provides a discount on testing fees, and it has some general information about the CompTIA tests. It also has links to CompTIA exam training books for sale on Amazon.
While it is less specific to IT certifications than the other websites in this slideshow, edX is a good source for free IT training that could help you prepare for a certification exam. Founded by MIT and Harvard, it features top-quality online classes from leading universities as well as from vendors like Microsoft. In general, the courses are free, but if you want to get a certificate verifying that you've passed a course, you'll have to pay a fee. (Note that these are certifications specific to edX, not the IT certs available through organizations like CompTIA). The courses can be very helpful if you need to beef up your skills in a particular topic area.
For IT professionals (or those who would like to be IT professionals), getting the right IT certifications can lead to a great job and a high salary.
Unfortunately, those certifications sometimes carry a high price tag.
For example, if you want to become a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) in Routing and Switching, the written test will cost $350 per attempt. You also have to pass a lab exam that costs another $1,600 per attempt. If you want to prepare, taking the recommended course from a Cisco authorized learning partner can cost around $5,000.
Although getting the certification is likely to result in a higher salary which will pay back these costs over time, it can be tough to manage the upfront fees — especially if you are just starting out in your career.
There isn't a lot you can do about the fees for the certification exams, but the Internet does have plenty of resources that can make the IT certification training much more affordable. This slideshow highlights ten of the best free resources available to those who are preparing for an IT certification exam. Some of these programs are only available for certain groups of people, such as veterans or those with low incomes, but most are open to anyone. Many provide practice exams that help you understand what to expect from the testing, and quite a few offer discussion forums where you can connect with other people who are studying for or have passed their certification tests. All of these resources can be a great starting point for moving your IT career forward.