The IT Certification Resource Center

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Training Options

Once you've chosen a certification, how do you go about earning it? Only a lucky few can walk into a test center, take an exam, and walk out certified. The rest of us have to get training. Either to build knowledge from the ground up or to fill in gaps in our skills and experience. So where do you get this training?

Popular training options include:

  • self-study
  • boot camps
  • classes at an authorized or third-party training center
  • community college programs

These aren't all available for every certification, but usually there are several options from which to choose. You can also use more than one of these at a time.


Every certification candidate will be studying on their personal time, but by self-study, I mean doing it on your own, without live instruction.

According to the 2002 Global IT Training and Certification Study, 87% of certification test takers used self-study materials for test preparation.

People choose self-study because it is usually cheaper, and is more flexible - study can be fit in at off hours or whenever it is most convenient for the student. That flexibility can also be the downfall for some people though. Because it is not in a rigid, pre-defined time frame like a class is, it's easy for study time to take a backseat to daily job tasks to the point where it never gets done. So people who choose self-study need to exercise strong self-discipline to get it done.

Thanks to the popularity of certification, there are many high quality self-study resources to choose from. Study guides, books, and resources are available for many certifications, through easily accessible outlets such as or your local large bookstore. You can also find them on the Internet, through the certification vendor's Web site, as certification Web site such as, or simply by searching using Google or another search engine.

Books are a favorite study tool because they are often organized directly around the certification objectives, usually they include practice questions, and they can be used as a reference long after the exam is over.

Product documentation can also be used for self study. Practice tests that simulate the actual exam and provide assessment of areas of strengths and weakness are another favorite.