Certification programs provide numerous benefits to aspiring IT professionals[md]they often result in increased earnings potential, and open doors to new career paths, promotions, professional development, status, and prestige. However, certifications are not easy to earn, and the costs to credential seekers can be high. Some of those costs are transparent, such as those for study courses or testing materials. Other costs, such as recertification expenses or time commitments required to earn credentials, may not be quite so obvious at the beginning of the certification process.
It’s important to understand the requirements for acquiring any certification fully at the outset to ensure you have the necessary resources to earn the initial credential and to meet any recertification requirements as well. Nothing is worse than spending months, or perhaps years, to earn a prized certification only to lose it a few years later when you don’t have the time or resources to recertify. Most certifications require time, effort, financial resources, documentation or paperwork, and maintenance.
Time and Effort
All certifications require time and effort. Lower level or basic certifications may require only a small time commitment to complete. You can obtain some entry-level certifications simply by taking an online review course (or no preparation course at all) and a follow-up exam. As you progress up the certification ladder, more time and effort are required. Advanced certifications generally take much longer to earn and more work is involved for preparation and study, which also increases financial costs. For example, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is a highly sought-after, advanced-level certification. Credential seekers are required to pass a two-hour written exam that costs $350. In addition, they must pass an eight-hour lab exam at a cost of $1,400. According to off-the-record reports from more than a handful of people we know who have a CCIE, the majority had to take the lab exam three or more times before they passed. This exam is already expensive, but because there are only a limited number of exam centers worldwide, most people also have to pay for travel and lodging and take two or three days off from work for each exam attempt. Other higher-level advanced certifications impose similar burdens on their pursuers.