The World Series is over and the Houston Astros lived up to their 2017 mantra, “Houston Strong.” It was an exciting and hard-fought Series, especially Game 5, when both sides got into “all hands on deck” mode in an effort to secure victory.
In many ways, this Series was a battle between David and Goliath. Los Angeles had the TV market, the larger stadium — 56,000 versus Houston’s 41,000 — and celebrities seemingly occupying every other seat in Chavez Ravine. The most glaring difference between the teams was the payroll — L.A.’s is a league leading $242 million (almost $42 million more than the New York Yankees).
In contrast, the Astros spent just north of $124 million to take home the trophy. Houston’s front office put together a championship team with foresight, sagacity, and patience (snagging Justin Verlander with two seconds remaining at the trade deadline was a wheelin’ dealin’ coup for the ages).
Most of us will never be called on to build a championship baseball team, but we all have the opportunity to earn a few IT certifications. We all know that certs can be expensive, but just as the Astros demonstrated with their frugal path to Major League Baseball victory, you don’t have to break the bank to earn a certification in the IT realm.
With an overall nod to the importance of forethought and planning, here are some simple ways to keep your training costs at a minimum:
Ask your boss — Employers are increasingly aware of the value to their organization of having credentialed employees. Research your target certification paying particular attention to the benefits of improved abilities and knowledge. Once you know what the cert will do for you, approach your employer with a thoughtful presentation on how it will help you solve company challenges.
Explain that you can save the company time and money by solving IT issues in-house instead of paying for an expensive outside consultant. Once your employer sees the value, ask for the company to pay for your training. You may be pleasantly surprised.
School resources — This is an especially fruitful avenue for high school and college students, though many public institutions of higher learning provide ample access to learning resources for all. If you are a student, remember that IT classes that offer certification training typically include free or discount vouchers for exams and study materials.
Online resources — There are literally thousands of low-price and free videos available with a quick internet search. If you are looking for a Microsoft cert, check out Microsoft Virtual Academy — a “collection of simple video courses on a variety of IT topics and products” that also offers general content and training.
For those studying for CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, or Microsoft exams, an excellent online source is Professor Messer. He has free online videos and practice quizzes. You can also purchase additional books, course notes and live labs if your so inclined.
Do a quick search for practice IT exams—you’ll be surprised at just how many there are. One online favorite for quick and pertinent practice exams is GoCertify.com that offers hundreds of free 10-question multiple-choice quizzes on carts from CompTIA, Cisco, ITIL , Microsoft and others. Speaking of GoCertify, here’s another great resource for low-cost learning and training options.
Vendors — Certification vendors are in business to make money and take pains to help candidates complete their certifications. The pains they take often include free basic study resources on their sites. These include discussion boards, practice exams, videos, blog posts, and webinars.
Uncle Sam — If you are a military member transitioning back to civilian life, make certain to ask your counselor about IT-training. Over the past couple of years, the military has established partnerships with numerous sponsoring entities and opened IT-training via the GI Bill and other education benefits. Most of these services also offer job placement assistance. You’ve given a few years to your country, why not ask for something in return?
Networking — Not the IT kind; we’re talking about swapping stories and pressing the flesh. Take some time to join discussion boards and ask questions. IT pros are like most people, willing to share information and give advice about prepping for exams. They can also be a source for career guidance.
Ask about upcoming IT gatherings in your area and then plan on attending. You can learn a lot about the industry while rubbing shoulders with like-minded people. often vendors also offer free onsite training and exams. With a little pre-planning, a few hours mingling at a convention can save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
The bottom line is that there are ways to reduce and control the costs of earning a certification. All it takes is a little initiative. Set your sights on your certification and start beating the bushes for cost savings.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin also likes to check under the couch cushions for loose change whenever he needs to save money. Sometimes he finds pizza crusts that even have a little smidge of pepperoni or sausage still clinging to them.
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