Certification Survey Extra: Effective computer technician cert prep

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Which certification study and training methods are most effective for aspiring computer techs?It takes a lot to get certified. You need time and effort, of course. Money, whether out of one’s own wallet or from some other source, is required for testing fees and to cover the cost of most (if not all) training and study materials. There’s patience and perseverance involved, particularly for exam candidates who don’t pass on the first attempt.

Certification is of particular importance among aspiring computer technicians. It’s a gateway to IT for many: Among all certified computer technicians who responded to our recent Computer Technician Certification Survey, more than a third (34 percent) did not work in IT at all before entering the computer support realm.

Similarly, an unusually high 42.6 percent of survey respondents said they were required to hold one or more relevant certification in order to hire on with their current employer. In other words, there’s a lot riding on that first A+ or ITIL credential. It’s important to find and use the most effective preparation materials to sharpen one’s wits for the exam.

So which methods and tools for certification study and training have proven most fruitful for certified techs? Here’s how survey respondents rated their most recent experience with various options that are generally available:

Method of Preparation / Effectiveness of That MethodExcellentVery GoodGoodFairPoorDoes Not Apply
Self-Study Books34.4 percent33.1 percent20.6 percent3.8 percent0.6 percent7.5 percent
Practice Exams34.4 percent29.4 percent20.6 percent7.5 percent1.9 percent6.3 percent
Instructor-Led Training at Training Center20 percent23.1 percent16.9 percent6.3 percent0.6 percent33.1 percent
Vendor-Authorized Boot Camp11.3 percent13.8 percent11.9 percent7.5 percent2.5 percent53.1 percent
Computer-Based Training or Simulations21.9 percent33.8 percent20 percent3.8 percent3.8 percent16.9 percent
Community or Technical College Courses15.6 percent19.4 percent25.6 percent3.8 percent2.5 percent43.1 percent
Online Unversity Courses or MOOCs12.5 percent26.9 percent12.5 percent6.3 percent2.5 percent39.4 percent
Product Docmentation16.9 percent18.1 percent26.9 percent13.8 percent6.9 percent17.5 pecrent
Internet Mailing List or Forums5.6 percent15 percent16.3 percent11.9 percent8.1 percent43.1 percent
On-the-Job Training25.6 percent25.6 percent21.9 percent9.4 percent3.1 percent14.4 percent
Brain Dumps9.4 percent17.5 percent15.6 percent4.4 percent6.9 percent46.3 percent

2018 Survey Data

Looking at the “Does Not Apply” column, we can see at a glance that more than half of those surveyed, for whatever reason, steered clear of boot camps, and 43 percent similarly avoided community or technical college training. Both are relatively high-cost options, which may also explain why a third of respondents chose not to pursue instructor-led training.

Self-study books, which can be essentially free if you have access to a good library, are usually a popular option, and that holds true here as well: 92 percent of respondents uses self-study books, and 87 percent found them either excellent, very good, or good. Practice exams are also popular, used by 94 percent of those surveyed, with 86 percent rating them either excellent, very good, or good.

Two other options have a strong overall outlook: 83 percent of respondents used computer-based training products, and 76 percent rated them excellent, very good, or good. And 85 percent skilled up while on the job, with 73 percent rating that experience either excellent, very good, or good.

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CertMag Staff


Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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