Many entry-level certifications exams are relatively inexpensive. For example, the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) has several certification paths with most requiring only one or two exams. Each exam costs $125. As with time and effort, the more advanced a certification, the greater the cost involved to earn it. Mid-level certification examples include the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Server Administrator, which requires passing three exams for a total of $375, and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), which costs $600 for the three-exam track. Advanced certifications such as the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) can involve significant costs. For starters, Microsoft requires a $125 registration fee for the MCM. The cost of the two- or three-week required training and exam fees for most MCM credentials weighs in at a hefty $18,500. (The training is optional for the MCM on SQL Server 2008 certification.) If you fail the exams, the retake costs are $250 for each written exam and $2,500 for the lab exam. Travel and lodging costs can add another $3,000 to $5,000. You also have to determine the cost of missing two or three weeks of work. All in all, obtaining MCM certification costs big money.