Four Main Ways: Gaining Initial Certification
In last month’s article, I explained how individuals with a recent degree in computer science and no experience could gain that valuable experience. I also explained how to integrate the pursuit of targeted certifications with experience gained due to the change in the type of testing being used by Microsoft. This month, I will take you a step further by explaining the various methods available to help you further prepare for Microsoft certification exams.
Several methods of learning will help you prepare for certification, and your job. There are four main ways to prepare for certification in addition to experience: instructor-led classes, self-paced e-learning, books and Microsoft Exam Guides. This month let’s take an in-depth look at instructor-led training.
Instructor-led training is one of the most popular methods of learning and preparing for certification. Since our early childhood years, most of our learning has been accomplished by sitting in a classroom with an instructor. The combination of a knowledgeable instructor with good communication skills and learners with the proper classroom equipment provides a powerful environment for mastering new skills. In many cases, learners can attend a class for three to five days, apply their new skills with on-the-job experience for a short time and pass the certification exam (although this is more difficult to do than it was previously due to performance-based testing). It is also one of the quickest ways to learn since many of us feel obligated to attend the class because an instructor is present who may be taking attendance. Another reason we feel obligated to attend instructor-led classes is the cost.
Three- to five-day instructor-led classes providing certification training are expensive. It is not unusual for instructor-led classes to cost $1,500 to $2,500 for courses running three to five days. If you need to prepare for and pass five certification exams, you can easily spend $7,500 to $10,000 in class fees plus the cost of the certification exams. While there are alternative and significantly less expensive methods of learning, instructor-led courses are still used approximately 70 percent of the time. While instructor-led classes are still the preferred choice by many, other learning alternatives are being used 30 percent of the time.
Even though the cost of instructor-led classes is high, most people prefer this training method, and at least 70 percent of all training is done this way. So how are other learning alternatives succeeding? Companies employing technology professionals whom employers want to train to perform certain tasks or to advance and retain the knowledge capital of the company have traditionally paid most instructor-led class fees. Since instructor-led classes are the method of learning preferred by most of us, we have enjoyed this company-paid benefit for several decades. However, companies and government organizations have been reallocating budgets traditionally spent on instructor-led classes for information technology training to less expensive alternatives. Individuals have also been choosing alternative methods of learning due to the convenience, lower cost, high quality and scheduling ease.
Next month, we will review self-paced e-learning along with its pros and cons as a viable learning alternative to instructor-led training.
Denny Yost is the vice president of marketing at MindLeaders, a leading global provider of integrated, off-the-shelf, self-paced e-learning solutions, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1981, MindLeaders was the first company to convert all its courses to native HTML for real-time presentation through the Internet in what later became termed self-paced e-learning.