I should start out by explaining my choice of the word ‘invest’ over ‘spend’. The reason I call it an investment is you are getting something in return. One of the definitions from Dictionary.com for the verb ‘invest’ is:
“to put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.”
This is why it always saddens me to hear from people who want to quit my training website. I’ve been short of funds in the past but I sold my guitar and TV in order to invest in IT study guides and exam fees. That decision paid off massively (see below).
The other thing which saddens me is people not doing any study at all because their employer won’t pay for it. I’m afraid that after the global financial crisis many of the perks offered to employees are long gone. My attitude is that you will be benefitting from the qualifications through higher salaries, better working conditions and more rewarding roles so why not pay for it?
End of rant.
The most expensive part of any IT certification is usually the exam fees which, let’s face it, are a big rip off. Even the Cisco CCNA exam is around $300. It’s administered and scored by a computer, I just don’t get it.
If you choose to attend a classroom or academy course then of course the costs will rise dramatically but most of us can’t, won’t or don’t have to take this route.
Most exams require some sort of study guide. In fact, I recommend you buy two. One will form your main study guide and the other you will dip into to hear the same concepts explained in a different way or to read things missed in the first guide. Of course you can buy these on Kindle to save money or second-hand via Amazon marketplace.
You usually need hands-on time with software or hardware. You can buy it of course but most vendors including Microsoft offer free trials and study versions for free such as Packet Tracer from Cisco. Amazon lets you fire up virtual servers running the most common operating systems from Microsoft and Linux and others.
Video training can easily replace classroom courses. You get the benefit of seeing the lecture many times over, you can still ask questions via the forum and the best ones (such as howtonetwork.com) offer practise exams and other bonus extras. Video training ranges from around $20 per month up to $97 or more depending on the vendor.
If you don’t have access to practise exams then this will add an extra cost. There used to be several practise exam vendors in the market but most of these have closed down now and quality varies. Expect to spend around $90 to $200.
There are other materials you can invest in such as audio books if this form of learning works for you.
To put this into perspective. I spent around $250 on books for my CCNP certification. Exam fees were $750 spread over six months. When I passed that I applied for some jobs and jumped from $32,000 salary to $96,000. Not only that but I was doing far more interesting work and there was far less stress because, in order for jobs to reach my support team they had to go through tier 1 and 2 first. I was left with the quality work and didn’t have to speak to angry customers anymore.
So in summary. Per course I’ve averaged about $100 spend per exam plus exam fees (which are out of our control). Each certification has repaid me over 1000% percent financially but there is no price on the improvements in my quality of life and career improvements.
I hope this helps and changes your perspective a little. Investing in myself made a huge difference to my career prospects, quality of life and income. Suddenly I had the funds to invest in personal development courses and even more training making my skills even more marketable. It was like rolling up a snowball.
Hop on over to my video/exam training website if you fancy some top quality IT certification training.