Certification Survey Extra: Rating computer networking certification study materials

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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 These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Click here and it should direct you furtherFlexibility and convenience are important when studying for a certification exam. Most individuals have other commitments, whether professional or educational, during whatever window of time they have designated to get certified. The challenge is to fit in needed review and/or learning and skills acquisition, which generally has to happen on the fly, whenever opportunity permits.

So it’s important to have options. There are many different ways to refresh your understanding, or take in new information and make it your own, and individuals tend to have personal preferences or proclivities. A key element of learning and studying is figuring out what works for you, while also understanding that your own best approach may differ from that of peers or colleagues.

Certification is an ongoing pursuit, of course, so you aren’t likely to enter the IT industry, whatever your specialization, with every cert you’ll ever need already in hand. For our recent Computer Networking Certification Survey, we asked certified web professionals how they get the best results.

Survey respondents rated the effectiveness, per their most recent certification experience, of various computer networking certification study materials. As always, those surveyed had the option to mark “Does Not Apply” for study approaches that are foreign to their experience. Here’s what we learned:

Method of Study Percentage of Respondents who rate this method ExcellentPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Very GoodPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Good Percentage of Respondents who rate this method Fair Percentage of Respondents who rate this method PoorPercentage of Respondents who rate this method Does Not Apply
Self-study books32.4 percent30.1 percent20.6 percent3.7 percent1.5 percent11.7 percent
Product Documentation 11.1 percent25.8 percent30.1 percent14.7 percent5.1 percent13.2 percent
Instructor-led training at training center15.4 percent21.3 percent14 percent4.4 percent0.7 percent44.2 percent
Vendor-authorized boot camp 8.1 percent14.7 percent6.6 percent3 percent0.7 percent66.9 percent
On-the-job training 19 percent32.1 percent20.4 percent7.3 percent2.2 percent19 percent
Practice exams 35.3 percent29.4 percent15.4 percent9.6 percent2.2 percent8.1 percent
Online university or e-learning course 15.4 percent18.4 percent14.7 percent2.2 percent2.2 percent47.1 percent
Internet mailing lists or forums 3.7 percent13.2 percent14.7 percent15.4 percent7.4 percent45.6 percent
Computer-based training or simulations 25 percent24.3 percent27.1 percent3.7 percent1.5 percent18.4 percent
Community or technical college courses 10.4 percent9.6 percent12.6 percent1.5 percent3.7 percent62.2 percent
Brain dumps from web sites 8.9 percent9.6 percent9.6 percent7.4 percent6 percent58.5 percent

2020 Computer Networking Certification Survey: Refers to materials used by survey respondents to prepare for their most recently taken exam.

One of the first things that we noticed is that certified computer networking professionals are apparently a highly good-natured bunch. Very few survey respondents handed out “Poor” ratings, with just online lists/forums, product documentation, and the always dubious brain dumps getting a notably dismissive wave of the hand.

Many certified IT professionals take a “lone wolf” approach to training, and that trend is certainly borne out here. The two training options rated most highly by a fairly wide margin are books and practice exams, both of which are entirely reliant on the self-motivation of the learner, but also don’t require any sort of interaction with others.

The workplace is a key arena of learning for many, as demonstrated by the fact that 71 percent of survey participants have experienced some degree of success in furthering their certification efforts through on-the-job-training. If you know enough to get a job in IT, then you can do work, get paid, and enrich your skill set all at the same time. Other strong options include instructor-led training and computer-based training.

We’ve already noted that very few options were rated poorly. You have to actually try something in order to rate its effectiveness, of course, but it’s clear that many certified professionals didn’t even contemplate going down certain roads (or at least didn’t contemplate it for long):

Online learning, community college courses, boot camps and online mailing lists/forums are apparently beneath the notice of many certified computer networking professionals looking to study up for a certification.

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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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