'Tis the Season to Save on IT Training and Certification

Holiday deals can help you save on the cost of IT certification and training.

As with much else in life, it’s important to know how — and when — to shop for certification training and related subscription discounts. Though "sooner started, sooner finished" is always true, some times of year are better for discounts than others. And no time of year is better or more advantageous than the end-of-year shopping season.

This period traditionally kicks off in the United States with the Thanksgiving holiday week. But even those who don’t celebrate or recognize that holiday could do well to review their current plans, interests, and obligations, to consider making certification training part of their plans and activities for the upcoming year (2023, as I write this column).

A Subscription Can Be JUST the Thing

Most of the training and certification companies you’ve ever heard of offer monthly subscription deals for access to their online training catalogs. That means top training companies like New Horizons, Skillsoft, Global Knowledge, and so forth. It also means commercial MOOC outlets such as Udemy, Coursera, EdX, and so on.

This umbrella even includes well-known IT training providers with a more narrow focus on our home niche such as PluralSight, QuickStart, the Eno Institute, and more. Even many IT vendors — SAS, Oracle, Red Hat, and Cisco, to name just a few — offer a variety of subscription programs to would-be certification candidates.

The thing to do is to put together a short list of such organizations whose training you’d pay for, and then to search out deals as they become available. Looking around this heavily populated terrain, I believe that most current and aspiring IT professionals can find “all-you-can-learn” plans for monthly costs of between $35 and $ 60 per month.

More highly specialized or "required course/training" credentials will get more expensive, but could still offer significant savings vis-à-vis course-at-a-time attendance and exams.  If you’re able to afford this kind of outlay, consider further that by paying a bigger bill once a year, you can often save 10-20 percentoff that monthly cost (e.g. $375 a year, instead of $35 a month, as an illustrative example).

What Else Might You Need?

Holiday deals can help you save on the cost of IT certification and training.

As you look at online subscriptions for IT certification and training, remember that more than classes are involved. I’m talking about study guides, outside reading, practice tests, and labs or hands-on simulations and runtime scenarios. These may be applicable to some certification program requirements, but they are always a good idea to help develop real-world skills and knowledge.

If you don’t get those bundled into your subscriptions (please check), then you’ll need to cover (and pay for) them separately. So when comparing a subscription for the Cisco Security certification series, for example, be sure to factor in the need for lab time, practice tests, textbooks and study guides, and so forth, as you try to compare costs.

Cisco itself will offer one price, a big-name training company or a more tightly focused IT training and certification provider may have quite a different price tag, and you might be able to find a third pricing options from the likes of edX, Coursera, Udemy, and so forth. The contrasts can be surprising, but it should be no surprise at all that, when everything gets added in, costs may not vary as much as they seem or appear to.

Your mama was right when she told you to shop around. And, as long as your shopping strategy covers all the necessary bases, then you should be able to compare costs on a realistic basis. You will find plenty of things that look like deals. Those that appear too good to be true often are.

Those that pinch the wallet just a little, but get you where you need to go (and teach and show you what you need to learn) often end up being best, but neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. As you plan your next year of training and certification activity, don’t overlook the value and coverage that a good subscription can provide.

But do please be sure to check all the boxes on the way toward earning the certs you’ll be studying for to make sure you’ve got things covered. No need to retake exams unless something truly unexpected happens. And with proper planning and preparation, that shouldn’t occur very often.

Happy holiday shopping. May you find the truly great deals that work out for your career development and success. Cheers!

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.