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Certification Training: Can You Afford It?

What training program fits your budget?

If you are looking at obtaining a certification, whether it's A+ or MCSE, training in one form or another is essential to prepare you for your certification tests. The big question is, which provider offers the best product at the best price? There are quite a few organizations out there who offer quality training and practice tests.

The following comparison will give you a quick view of the costs associated with different types of training and hopefully give you an idea of what training will fit your needs and budget. I have used the A+ certification (2 exams) and the MCSE certification (7 exams) for all price comparisons. These two certs cover both the lower end prices for a certification with few exams and the higher level of certification which requires multiple exams.

Free
Online Resources
The certification preparation tools you will find online range from excellent to downright incorrect.

Use your discretion as to the quality of all free materials. That said, I have tried to find and link to as many of the good sites as possible throughout this site. Find the cert you are interested in among those on the left and see what resources I have dug up for you.  

Cheap
Books
Depending upon the certification, you may need more than one book. For the purposes of this example, the A+ book covers both A+ exams. The MSCE books cover the core exams and two electives so you must add the prices of the books together to get the approximate cost of books for the MCSE exams.

    A+
    $45 - A+ All In One Exam Guide by Michael Meyers

    MSCE
    $120 - MCSE: Windows 2000 Core Requirements (2nd Edition) - Includes 4 books to prepare for the core exams.
    $35 - MCSE Exchange Server 5.5 Study Guide Exam 70-081 (With CD-ROM) by James Chellis
    $31 - MCSE: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0
    Total = $186

Reasonable
Practice Test Downloads
Practice tests come in many forms. The following prices are gathered from tests that can be downloaded or accessed via a subscription service. All of these providers have been reviewed on this site.

    A+
    $139 - Selftest Software A+ Bundle
    $169 - Transcender A+ Pak

    MCSE
    $339 - Selftest Software MCSE Bundle Download. The bundle includes only core exams. Elective exams are also available at $99 each.
    $356 - Whizlabs MCSE core exam downloads. Only core exams are available at this time at $59 each.

Moderate
Online or Video Training
If you don't have the time to attend a class, a training cd or video may just be the thing you need to pass your exams. These are more involved and more expensive than the practice tests mentioned above. They are designed to teach the subject, not just test you on it.
    A+
    $199 - Transcender Transtrainer for both A+ exams on video or CD.
    $199 - CBT Nuggets for both A+ exams on CD.

    MCSE
    $348 - CBT Nuggets MCSE 2000 Package. Includes training for the core exams. Additional exam packs for elective exams available for $99 each. Their Site
    $649 - Transcender Transtrainer MCSE Select Pak. Covers 7 exams (you pick the electives).
    $1499 - ProTech MCSE Windows 2000 Self Study Course. Covers 7 exams and has a lifetime exam pass guarantee.

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