When I first started out studying for IT certifications I had the comfort of a well-paying job. I took a big pay cut for my first IT role and I figured I’d be able to get back where I was financially in around 12 months time.
It took a bit longer than that but during this first job I found I had to make my money go a long way. I couldn’t really afford expensive classroom courses or subscriptions to video training websites.
Here are a few ideas you might want to try.
Be Weary of Free Websites
I know they mean well but people who are trying to build a training website giving free support will usually have to work a full time job also. I found with many of these sites that the information was either full of errors or out-of-date i.e. the exam syllabus had changed.
It’s a roundabout way of say that you do need to invest a little bit of money into your study although it need not be much. Technically, you could Google every single subject on the exam syllabus and get all the information you need via YouTube videos and Wikipedia but it would be a huge and time consuming task.
Buy Used Books
Amazon marketplace and eBay are full of slightly worn or used books. This is very common at Universities where all the students finishing courses sell their books to raise money for the next years subjects.
Another advantage is that many of these books had notes written on them explaining topics in more details, giving examples or correcting errors.
Bear in mind that you too, can sell these books when you have finished studying. You can even add the fact that they are full of extra notes as a benefit!
Use Free or Discounted Trial Memberships
IT certification is a highly competitive industry with several big name companies vying for your business. Many offer free or heavily discounted trials of their video training or exam tools. Some even have live racks or virtual servers to play with. Ensure you are ready to study and have all the necessary study guides before you start so you should only need access for 30 days or so. This will really drive the costs down.
Use Free or Discounted Trial Software
Certification exams are run by software and hardware vendors who need engineers to install and support their equipment. Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco etc. can’t exist without people like you. For this reason, most of them offer student editions, free trials or 30 days discounted access to their tools. Take Amazon for example. If you need to study for one of their cloud certifications you can get 30 days access to all the software you need.
Cisco now offer Packet Tracer (virtual Cisco network) as a free download. It used to only be available if you signed up to their very expensive academy program (which also took 12 months to graduate from).
Get Work to Pay
If you work in IT support or can help with the IT infrastructure at work then it’s only fair they pay all or some of your training costs. Find out who decides such as HR or your manager and put together a business case along with costs. A few hundreds bucks is nothing to most companies and compare it to the costs of hiring or training a new engineer or even sending you away on a classroom course.
Worst case they give you nothing, in which case you need to leave as soon as you get certified (and get a job offer). Best case you get all your costs covered.
Write off the Taxes
Keep receipts for everything you buy. Relevant training materials should easily be tax deductable so you can write off those costs from your tax bill. You can usually also include travel costs to and from the exam testing center and other reasonable costs.
It’s only fair I put my money where my mouth is. If you use the below link I’ll give you 30 days access to howtonetwork.com where you can study certifications from Cisco, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Wireshark, NetApp, CompTIA and more. It’s a measly dollar for 30 days and then converts to $20 per month if you want to stick around.