The Best Things in Life Are Free, Sometimes Including Certification Exam Vouchers
I've been thinking about the overwhelming presence of exam vouchers in today's training and IT certification marketplace. An exam voucher is essentially a paid-for ticket that can be redeemed for access to a seat for a certification exam. These days, that seat may be virtual (of your own choosing, and accessed through your own Internet connection, subject to various important restrictions).
Or that seat may be physical, inside a brick-and-mortar testing facility somewhere, possibly under the aegis of some organization like Pearson VUE, Certiport, Prometric, and so forth. Either way, possession of a valid exam voucher entitles you to book a date and time during which you can sit down and take whatever exam is on offer. But what if that voucher were free?
All Vouchers Are Alike, Whether You Pay for Them, or Somebody Else Does
A free exam voucher isn't really free. The test deliverer will still get paid for going their job, as will the test scoring and reporting company. What makes a voucher free — to you or somebody else — is that another party has agreed to pick up the costs.
Or if the same party that grants the voucher is the one who would incur those costs, they've decided to absorb those costs for whatever reason makes sense to them. Thus, what makes a voucher free is that you don't have to pay for it: It's not that this magically does away with all associated costs.
Case in Point: Free Microsoft Exam Vouchers
I found an absolutely fascinating Microsoft Community thread from Training Support, for example, that illustrates some possibilities. It's got a catchy title, too: How to Get a Free Voucher. When you look at it more closely, you'll quickly understand that qualifying to receive a free exam voucher takes at least some effort, if not other kinds of activity as well.
What led me to this topic, in fact, was a Medium story (dated Nov. 8) that explained how some person obtained a free MS Azure certification voucher through the Digital Skills Nigeria Program. Recognizing that most readers, and yours truly as well, would be singularly ineligible for such an offering, I found myself wondering, "How often does MS give away free exam vouchers?"
I have attended various big-time Microsoft events including Ignite, Build, Inspire and the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) conferences over the years. At all of those shindigs, one could either take one or more cert exams for free, or for a substantial discount (50 percentor better). As I learned from reading the afore-linked "free voucher" community thread, this is still very much the case.
One way to think about this is, "If you don't search, you can't find." Thus, you could substitute the name of your chosen or favorite exam sponsor for "Microsoft" in the search string that led me to the source I cite at the head of this section.
I can find some, but not a lot, of such things when I plug in Cisco, VMware, Dell, ISC2, ISACA, EC-Council, and ... you get the idea. There are almost always a limited number of opportunities, or ways to qualify for, free exam vouchers from just about all exam sponsors.
The key is to find them soon enough to do you some good, and to find those opportunities for no-cost and low-cost vouchers you might otherwise not know about. This is, in fact, a wonderful way to take advantage of Microsoft Copilot as you look around for the best possible deals on exam vouchers.
Don't forget: no-cost (free) is as low as exam voucher prices can go, unless somebody starts paying your to take exams. In that case: Me too, me too!
Schedule and Make Regular Checks
Once you decide you're in the market for one or more cert exams, make it a habit (once a month is good, once a week is better) to look for both low- and no-cost exam vouchers. Don't forget the value of bundles (exams, practice tests, training, and so forth in a single, one-price package).
If you subscribe to some kind of learning service (e.g. PluralSight, LinkedIn Learning, Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy, and so forth), then don't forget to look inside their walled gardens for exam voucher deals (or even freebies), too. You may just be surprised at what comes your way when you look. "Free," he says, "free, free, free." A good price, when you can get it.