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Certification Training: Can You Afford It?

What training program fits your budget?

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A+ Certification All-In-One
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 certification you are interested in by clicking on the Choose a Certification tab at the top of this page to 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+ Books
    $45 - A+ All In One Exam Guide by Michael Meyers

    MSCE Books

    $120 - MCSE: MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exams 70-290, 70-291, 70-293, 70-294): Microsoft® Windows Server(TM) 2003 Core Requirements(2nd Edition) - Includes 5 books to prepare for the core exams.
    $35 - MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-620): Configuring Windows Vista(TM) Client by James Chellis
    $39 - MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-297): Designing a Microsoft Windows Server(TM) 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure
    $37 - MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-298): Designing Security for a Microsoft® Windows Server(TM) 2003 Network
    Total = $231

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+ Practice Tests
    $178 to $218 Selftest Software Selftest Software A+ Practice Test Downloads. While the bundled cost of exams 601 & 602 cost $178, individual practice tests for any combination of the A+ exams cost $109 each. Their Site My Review
    $160 ExamForce ExamForce CramMaster practice test downloads. Each exam download is $79.00.Their Site My Review

    MCSE Practice Tests
    $557 Selfttest Software Selftest Software MCSE Core Networking and Design Bundle Download. The bundle includes these exams: 70-290, 70-291, 70-293,70-294, 70-297. Elective exams are also available at $109 each. Their Site My Review
    $630 ExamForce ExamForce practice test downloads. All but one of the four core exam downloads cost $199 each. The download for exam 70-292 is only $29.99 Their Site My Review

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+ Video Training
    $595 - PrepLogic's LearnSmart Video Training. Prepare for all the A+ exams with 36 hours on 12 CDs.Their Site My Review
    $399 - CBT Nuggets A+ Certification Package. Prepare for the 220-602, 220-603, and 220-604 exams.

    MCSE Video Training
    $2,800 (or $295 to $555 each) - PrepLogic's LearnSmart Video Training. Training CDs for the seven exams average $495 each. Includes training for the core exams. Their Site
    $899 - CBT Nuggets: MCSE 2003 Certification Pack. Covers 7 exams (70-270, 70-290, 70-291, 70-293, 70-294, 70-297 & 70-228). Their Site

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