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IT Certification FAQ

How Much Will a Certification Cost?

The price of certification is difficult to pin down in advance. There are many variables, the first and largest of which is your choice of certification to pursue. In many cases, the primary requirement for initial certification is that you pass one or more exams. For example, to earn the IBM Certified Application Developer - DB2 9, individuals must pass 2 exams, which cost $200 each, for a total of $400.

You might be able to pass a qualifying exam strictly by drawing on expertise you already have, but that is risky; most likely you'll want to study the relevant material first. A study guide may be all you need, or a series of hands-on courses might be more in order. Your needs will probably fall somewhere in between. Reviewing a manual is obviously drastically less expensive than instructor-led training.

Many certifications require some degree of continuing education over time to retain the certification. Generally there is a lot of freedom about the exact nature of the training, a community college class, a professional seminar, an employer run seminar (which costs you nothing), or an online course might all qualify. The cost of your continuing education can vary greatly, depending on how you choose to accomplish it. In some instances, you will have to pay an annual maintenance fee to the sponsoring organization.

Monetary expenses aren't the only costs of earning certification. you will also have to devote time and effort, often a substantial amount.

As you can see, it's impossible to state that certification will cost X dollars or will take every candidate Y months to obtain. On the one hand the uncertainty can be very annoying, but the payoff is the flexibility that allows each person, to a large degree, to map out their own path and their own pace. Only after you have decided which certification to go after, and figured out which learning alternatives are most attractive to you will you be able to come up with a reasonably close cost estimate. provides a certification expense worksheet to help you determine what your costs will be.

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