Certification is often expensive. How can you keep costs low?Certifications exist throughout the field of information technology, all the way from the Cloud to network security, databases, web site programming, Big Data analytics, data warehousing and mining, to server administration, and even to mastering all of the popular programming languages today (JavaScripting, PERL, Ruby On Rails, PHP, C#, Visual Basic, Angular Java Scripting, and more).

Obtaining an IT certification at any of these levels is actually a remarkable accomplishment. If you think about it, taking into account all of the professions and industries which exist today, not that many people have obtained IT certifications.

While there are lots of reasons for not earning an IT certification, probably the most common is that doing so is a very daunting task. Many of these certifications require candidates to prepare for and clear multiple exams, and some of those exams are so challenging that they often require multiple attempts.

For example, in order to be officially certified as Microsoft SQL Server expert, you have to pass three very rigorous exams. Simply having the work experience isn’t enough; rather, you have to have specific knowledge in the actual programming language itself. For this, Microsoft highly recommends (but does not require) that a candidate take three courses which they claim will help them prepare for and clear the exams.

The Staggering Costs of IT Certifications In India

Preparing for a certification exam involves a significant commitment in time and energy, not just from the standpoint of actually attending the respective classes, but also the time it takes to study for the exams.

Another significant hurdle for candidates is the actual and associated exam cost. Exam registration fees are often staggering. Add in the costs of taking the “highly recommended” classes, as well as obtaining the needed training material, such as tutorials, training DVDs, student manuals, and so forth, and soon the cost can begin to seem prohibitive. And all this is even before you factor in the travel expenses to and from official testing locations.

For example, obtaining the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), or Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA), can cost almost ₹ 20,000 ($3,000 U.S.D.). An Oracle Certified Master (OCM) certification is a staggering ₹ 51,000 ($8,000 U.S.D.). The primary reason for this latter expense is that this certification exam requires a hands-on lab involving the actual installation and configuration of an Oracle database.

Obtaining most other IT certifications typically falls somewhere between ₹ 13,000 to ₹ 20,000 ($2,000 to $3,500 U.S.D.). Because of these high costs, there has been huge debate amongst critics in India if these exams are even worth obtaining, and if they even carry any merit at all in the Indian IT marketplace.

Reducing the Costs of an IT Certification

Probably the best way to get help in funding your quest for an IT certification is to actually ask your employer to help pay for it, provided you are a direct hire and not an outside contractor. You will of course need to convince your boss that you are deserving of obtaining a particular IT certification.

Be prepared to prove how your department, and the company as a whole, will benefit from your new certification. Hint: a great way to show value is explain to your supervisor, with hard proof, that there is a lack of expertise in the company and that there is a strong need for the particular certification.

Another point to convey to your boss is that the company’s clients will be impressed that an employee with a highly regarded IT certification is working on their project. This will not only help to attract repeat business, but it can also be used as a tool in which to gain referral business.

Asking your supervisor for funding can be a dicey situation, you need to ask at the right time place. The beginning of the fiscal year when budgets are not fully earmarked is a good time, the end of a fiscal year when money is tight is never good.

One of the best times to ask is during your annual review, when you and your boss go over your accomplishments and areas which need improvement. You can use this valuable one-on-one opportunity to pitch your desire to obtain the certification, and discuss what resources the company has available to help fund your pursuit.

Remember, it may be a tough sell to get your boss to spend money in a way that benefits you directly, but it is doable as long as you show the benefit to the company.

Reducing the Cost as an Independent Contractor

India dude having tea and certifyingAs an independent contractor you have your own company and are often working for another IT company on an hourly basis. The good news is that you earn more in this aspect versus being a direct employee. The bad news is that you’ll have to fund your own certification journey.

Being an entrepreneur, you’re always budget minded, and looking for the best and cheapest deals possible. If you’re a successful entrepreneur, you’re not afraid to go after your dreams and you probably know how to get things done on a shoe-string.

But, before you begin, consider these four very important factors:

  • Your own preferences. In other words, where do you want your desired IT certification to take you?
  • The work related opportunities which exist for your desired IT certification
  • Your designated timelines in achieving your IT certification
  • Your own long term career goals

Some of the best resources to help you define the above four categories include the following:

This website displays the latest and most in demand IT job titles, along with the education,         levels of experience, the degree of education, and specific IT certifications which go along with   them.

The Certification Magazine website is filled with the latest information on certification trends, salaries, Industry demand, requirements, practice exams, and lots of other interesting articles as well.

Of course, it is just human nature to like things which are basically free. At the following websites, you can actually obtain very low cost and even free resources to aid you in your IT certification studies:

This is a web based resource designed for those seeking (or for those whom already possess) the various Cisco System certifications.

At this website, a prospective IT certification candidate can download free training materials on C++, Oracle, SQL Server, and both the Windows and Linux based platforms.

This website actually offers free IT certification guides and other books ranging from how to use SQL Server to PowerBuilder and Java.

In summary, obtaining an IT certification is a great thing to accomplish, but it can also be very costly as well. The trick is learning in how to get the funding and/or resources you need.