Hunting for Deals in Certification and Training

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When I was a kid, I used to marvel at the stack of coupons my grandmother clipped in anticipation of visits to the grocery store. At that age, I was something of an arithmetician, but I still couldn’t figure out why she went to the trouble. Half a buck here, 35 cents there — what was the big deal? What I didn’t get at the time was that she grew up during the leaner times of the 1930s and had been raised to scrimp whenever possible to make ends meet. This habit carried over to her elderly years, when she didn’t need to hunt for every little deal but did anyway.

I also didn’t understand that those savings added up — with all the coupons, she might save four or five bucks on each visit to the supermarket. If you tally that up over a year, that could add up to a few hundred dollars. And now that I’m out in the real world, I’ve learned to seek out deals myself.

I’m not a coupon clipper par excellence like my grandmother was (and still is), but I certainly look out for the bargains offered on the shelves to members of shoppers’ clubs at grocery stores. It’s definitely satisfying to see $5, $10 or even $15 fall off the bill when the cashier scans that little plastic card on my keychain. After all, that’s money back in my pocket.

Similarly, when it comes to certification and training, it’s usually worth the trouble to seek out savings for both fun and profit. Obviously, the tangible benefit is your bottom line — you have more money after the purchase, which can be saved, invested or spent. Plus, as with the grocery checkout example, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from getting the best price. It’s like a game — you played well and came out ahead.

Certifications and training can get up there in cost, and as demand continues to go up, they won’t get any cheaper. Still, there are deals to be had. Here are some ways you can save money as you proceed into the realm of certification:

Betas

These “rough draft” versions of certification tests are put out in the weeks and months before the final versions of exams are released. Credentialing programs typically will permit qualified professionals to take these exams for free to psychometrically assess them and make necessary tweaks to fit the content they’re testing. The individuals who pass these betas are typically grandfathered in, thus becoming the first certificants, or they are offered exam vouchers, discounts or other incentives.

Site Checks

If you’ve got a particular training or certification program in mind, look around on the vendor’s Web site to see whether it’s offering any kinds of deals. These usually aren’t too hard to find. Clearly, these companies want your business, and they’ll prominently display any sales or bargains they’ve got going to try to entice customers to make purchases. Also, consider checking out online forums for news of deals from your peers. IT pros generally aren’t stingy when it comes to offering information about price breaks, freebies and other bargains.

Member Benefits

Even better, you usually can get on a vendor’s mailing list, and the deals will come right to your inbox. Some of these organizations also have membership arrangements and offer specials exclusively to their constituents. Additionally, at the risk of getting a little too self-promotional, Certification Magazine offers various training and certification bargains to our site members. For a sense of what benefits we provide to our site members, go to http://www.certmag.com/articles/templates/cmag_generic.asp?articleid=1709&zoneid=279. To become a member, go to http://www.certmag.com/members/members/default.asp?action=register.

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