Finding the Best Training Providers
When you decide to pursue a particular certification, you usually have to start thinking about what training vendors you should patronize. The good news is that the market is very robust, and with most certifications out there, you’ll have a good number of choices to consider. The bad news: You’ll have to do some research — in addition to the studying you have to do for the certification itself — about which providers will work best for you.
Seeking out certification training isn’t like shopping for groceries or clothes. It’s harder. You can’t look through a broad array of training offerings for credentials that are systematically arranged on shelves in a physical location a few blocks from your home. Most of your browsing will be done on, well, a browser. Almost all your shopping (and probably your purchases, as well) will be conducted virtually, which means you will have to know where to look.
Popular search engines might be a good place to start, but as a primary research tool, they leave something to be desired. For example, the term “certification training” brings up more than 50 million results on Google, and several of the top entries deal with subjects such as yoga, life coaching, food safety and animal waste management — not exactly what you need to install a server or maintain a database.
Thus, to look for information on certification training, you largely should rely on Web sites that cover the technology and IT certification industries. Some of these sites have more focused search engines that specifically cover the IT field, so you can explore pertinent information without having to sift through extraneous sites that talk about the lotus fish position or how to get rid of Fido’s mess. (FYI: Readers can find just such a tool called CertScope on CertMag.com.)
The Web sites of the vendors themselves can be a good resource in terms of pricing and a straightforward explanation of what they offer, but where quality is concerned, don’t just take their word for it. You can check out the sites of the organizations that operate the certification program you’re interested in to find a list of approved training providers or even partners. Chances are, if the credentialing body has approved a vendor, the content it offers will align to the certification.
Additionally, to investigate the value of a certification training program, find out what your colleagues in technology have to say about it via online forums. If they’re not discussing it already, they’ll probably chime in with their thoughts if you ask questions about it. (Once again, CertMag.com has discussion boards with threads that go over the merits of or problems with various training providers. Check it out at www.certmag.com/forums.)
So now that you know where to look, what should you look for? As indicated earlier, the quality of products and services is key. Specifically, this relates to the relevancy of the content to both the certification and the larger issue of technology or skill it assesses, the efficacy of the training platforms on which it was delivered, who was involved in its development and so forth.
Cost also should factor into your decision. You want to arrive at the intersection of the best possible training for the best possible price. And don’t assume that the more you spend, the more you’ll get. In the training world — and really, with any transaction you make — more expensive does not necessarily mean better.
In addition, time and complexity are worth thinking about. If you have very little free time to spare outside of work or an incredibly unpredictable schedule, you might want to opt for a relatively simple, asynchronous e-learning program. If you have a good deal of vacation time and some discretionary savings stored up, however, you could decide to take an in depth-course or even a certification boot camp.