- Decide on a certification.
This may sound obvious, but there are a lot of people who are not sure which certs are respected in their chosen industry. Good resources for this are peers, managers, and if you're still unsure, try posting your thoughts and questions in our forum. There are many others visiting and posting in the forum with the experience to help you decide.
- Evaluate your experience.
Once you know what certification you are going to pursue, you must take a realistic look at how much experience you have with the material and decide what type of study or training is needed. Research the certification requirements to find out what is expected. For example, CompTIA's A+ suggests that you have 6 months of experience as a technician, while an upper-level cert such as the PMP requires 5-10 years of experience.
- Study and train.
If you are an expert in your field, with the experience and knowledge to dive directly into the exams, a good exam preparation book will be the best way for you to study.
If you are new to the subject, or need some hands-on experience, you will benefit greatly from online or classroom training. In both cases, some good practice questions are definitely worth the money to ensure you pass your exams.
- Register for your exam.
The final step is the simplest. Most certification vendors allow you to register through either Prometric or Pearson Vue. There are also a few that require that you register directly through the vendor.
- Stay certified.
Once you have passed your exams, be sure to find out what recertification or coninuing certification requirements are required. Some certifications require that you pass updated exams and others accept continuing education credits. Still others are good for life and never expire.
- Use your college credits toward certification or your certification towards college credit . . . read more
- Find out if your certification will earn you more money . . . read more
- Research certification products. Find out which practice tests give you the most bang for the buck . . . read more
- Do your research. Look up everything you can on the certification you want and check the job boards to see if it is in demand . . . read more